The Gasoline Classics Collection
Inspired by exciting designs of the 1940s and '50s, Jack Schmitt began drawing cars and making model cars of the future, as a boy in the Chicago area.
To help pay for his college education, he worked in gas stations part-time, taking photographs that years later became invaluable reference material! After attending the University of Illinois he earned a degree in Industrial Design at Art Center College of Design and was hired by Ford Motor Company as a car designer. Jack later became a freelance designer, using watercolor and gouache to illustrate his ideas ...and occasionally create paintings of the Midwest landscape with those 1940s cars he grew up with.
As his paintings grew in popularity he became a full time watercolor artist and moved to California in 1975. His detailed paintings of Californian landmarks earned him a reputation as an artist with attention to detail and authenticity. He has been a signature member of the National Watercolor Society since the 1970s.
In 1979 his painting of two rusty gas pumps in a gold mining ghost town caught the eye of a Shell Oil executive. He and many other collectors were beginning to buy all of the obsolete oil company signs, gas pumps and globes. Schmitt’s subsequent paintings of old service stations and garages from the visible pump era were an instant success with petroleum memorabilia collectors, major oil companies, numerous suppliers to the industry, as well as automobile enthusiasts. National Petroleum News promoted his work, which led to worldwide exposure of over 100 paintings of old service stations from the 1930s to the 1960s.
Jack’s goal was to preserve on paper a slice of everyday life from a brief period in history that has seen drastic changes. All are historical records that invite the viewer to step inside and enjoy a look at a time that is gone forever. “A successful painting is like a good book that you can’t put down. It will captivate your interest every time you look at it -- stimulating your imagination and perhaps rekindling a pleasant memory,” says Jack.
Here in chronological order are ten of the best paintings from his Gasoline Classics Collection -- gas stations that were familiar across America during the 1940s and 1950s.
Each one personifies the garage of a different oil company, brought to life as it was at the time, in authentic detail. How was he able to recreate them for posterity, long after some have physically vanished? How does one find all the correct colors and minute details? It took a lot of time and effort to get accurate information, since there were no books or reference manuals he could refer to at the time.
Most are actual locations that Jack found on numerous trips across the United States in the 1980s and 1990s, as well as photographs he had saved from his days as a student. Sometimes he researched difficult to find details in oil company archives, to give authenticity to his paintings. The oil companies periodically changed the architecture and color schemes of the buildings, as well as the signage, pumps and graphics. Jack researched everything from the right colors of oilcans, to posters in the windows advertising a tire or battery, to the color of curbing around the building!
The finishing touch was to add suitable cars -- none more recent than the particular year of each scene! Some are 1950s classics that Jack once owned and wishes he had kept! An additional artwork illustrates the world's first drive-through restaurant.
This artist's paintings and prints are owned by all of the major oil companies and petroleum suppliers. Many of his prints were used by oil companies as dealer and employee incentive awards and retirement gifts, often personalized with their name painted over the door. His paintings and prints are also in private collections, with numerous commissions from people who want their cars illustrated in a particular service station. His work has been featured in magazines in the USA, Italy and England.
Commission Jack to create a unique painting for you!
Call Peter Aylett at 949-443-0500 or email for details.