Elin Thomas found a way to combine her passion for artistic expression and her love of travel into a satisfying two-wheeled adventure of freedom on the open road. Elin’s creative personality and talented artistic ability is what enabled her to transform her plain Honda Gold Wing F6B motorcycle not once but twice into an amazing mobile canvas.
The Artist Within
Elin holds a bachelor’s degree in fine art with an emphasis on graphic arts and humbly claims that she learned the majority of what she knows from taking workshops from other professional artists whom she admired over the years. Elin’s main advice for what will ultimately give an up-and-coming artist the ability to hone one’s talent simply is, to just keep DOING IT.
It was in the late 1970’s when she was working full time for the US Government in Germany where she used her “off” hours to fuel her creative energy as a fine artist painter by doing commissioned works. She eventually fell into a part time airbrushing business she called “Autographics” and painted vans and pretty much anything that had wheels.
“My motto was, if it moves, I’ll paint it.”
During her last years in Frankfurt, Germany she found herself living out of her VW bus while she saved up money to get back to the United States. Being the only vehicle painter in the area at the height of the custom van craze, Elin had a steady stream of customers including GIs who wanted custom lettering on their vehicles.
Once, she was even blindfolded and taken onto a secret base location to do a GI’s vehicle with the New Hampshire landmark of the Old Man on the Mountain. (The landmark unfortunately no longer exists, no word if the vehicle does)
Elin had even embellished her own van with a rendering of a painting from C.M. Russell on one side and on the other side a depiction of the “Death Dealer” by Frank Frazetta.
“I earned the CB handle, Paint Brush during my time in Germany.”
From Scooting to Riding
Elin was actually first introduced to motorcycles in the 1970’s when she was in Europe. She had stayed on a farm and spent her summers riding a BMW motorcycle with friends. It wasn’t until 2009 that Elin decided to get reintroduced to motorcycling and started out on a scooter— she thought it would make an economical mode of transportation to get around with.
Elin insisted that it was her love of riding horses and traveling that inadvertently got her addicted to motorcycling again, jokingly claiming that in order to navigate the open road there would be an extreme lack of hitching rails to park a horse, so she opted to ride a “steel horse” instead.
Her two-wheeled experience began on a Kymco 250 Scooter and after a year of getting a taste of the freedom of two-wheel traveling she graduated to a 650 Yamaha Classic, a popular entry level motorcycle. She continued to ride her Yamaha for two years but then was drawn by the allure of the legendary Harley fantasy and purchased a 2009 Softail. Over the next two years and a whopping 23,000 miles later she felt it was time for a change.
In December of 2013 Elin purchased her current motorcycle, a Honda Gold Wing F6B, that to date she has racked up 43,000 miles on and still going strong. It wasn’t until her Honda that her artist within urged her to get out the paint and airbrushes again and compelled her artistic mojo to start flowing to create a masterpiece on metal.
Creating The Red Queen: Elin’s First Motorcycle Airbrush
It was just two months after Elin purchased her Honda F6B that she felt it was time to get reacquainted with auto paints and solvents again—it had been over forty years since she had picked up an airbrush and painted on a vehicle and she was ready for the challenge.
The base color of her fire engine red Honda remained unaltered except for darkening it a little and she added pearl blue over it. The abstract design was then laid over it. Elin says that the process took fourteen days to complete, however she admits that eleven of those days were spent in “deep, pensive thought” about what design she wanted to portray.
In June of 2014 Elin’s custom painted motorcycle was featured on the cover of Wing World Magazine and dubbed “The Red Queen.”
The Dragon Beast Custom Painted Motorcycle
Two years after completing “The Red Queen” Elin was compelled to repaint her Honda again after she had watched “How to Tame Your Dragon” and had listened to a series of audiobooks, “Dragon Riders of Pern.” Not to mention she just thought that what she had in mind for the Dragon she was attempting to design would be KINDA BADASS on a motorcycle.
In her studio/shop she sanded her motorcycle down to the primer and applied a urethane white primer as a base. Instantly, she had a blank canvas to work with. Using her favorite colors of turquoise, blue and purple she started her motorcycle airbrush with a light blue green color base.
For Elin, the easy part was cutting the stencils to use for the airbrushed scales, however her biggest challenge was figuring out how to create the illusion of pebbly skin that is associated with lizards. To produce that she found some lacy fabric, stretched it over an old canvas support and then sprayed the different colors through it to achieve the pebbly skin effect she wanted.
Next, she used the saddlebags to create the folded wings of the dragon, and had the tail wrap around the license plate.
Elin’s next challenge was the horns of the dragon and getting them to swoop up onto the windscreen. She had to learn how to sandblast to create this effect, but in the end, she found it surprisingly very easy to accomplish.
The front claws of the dragon grab onto the front fender along with the addition of realistic gouges that make the claws look like that they had been raked across it.
The finish layers were done in a pearl blue with another urethane clear coat on top. The only pieces that she didn’t tackle herself were the passenger rails and luggage rack that was in a stock black color. She chose to send them to get powder coated in royal blue to match the color scheme of her motorcycle.
After taking twelve days to complete the transformation, “The Dragon Beast” custom painted motorcycle was born and ready to roar.
Combining Art and Riding
Elin considers her retirement as the freedom to do and go where she wants, and nothing is more liberating than traveling and camping with “The Dragon Beast” and being able to set up her easel on location to share her painting talents at various motorcycle rides and events. Her dog Sparky makes a great companion on her journeys while he rides comfortably behind her in his Kuryakyn Pet Carrier.
To accommodate all her camping gear and art supplies while on the road Elin pulls a Diamond Plate Motorcycle Trailer.
This year you can find Elin painting at the San Diego Fair near the art building and at the Ride California 2017 in Cambria with Women in the Wind.
Elin loves to explore her favorite mountain roads on two wheels near her home in Riverside California with Sparky in tow.
She has also been known on occasion to trade her two wheels for the four-legged variety and enjoys riding horses on the Nature Preserve that surrounds her home. When not riding or painting Elin’s solitude nature draws her into the garden where she practices permaculture techniques in gardening.
Motorcycle Helmet Painting
As a fine art painter Elin’s subjects range from horses to landscapes but for fun she has set her sights on coming up with unique whimsical designs on a few motorcycle helmets. Elin doesn’t do this as a business per say, her unique design style is far from what one might get “off the shelf.” For those interested she will consider taking on a helmet project by commission, but only on a case-by-case basis.
Connect with Elin
- At Elin Art (her personal website), where she sells instructional DVD’s on painting techniques.
- Elin Thomas Pendleton’s Facebook page.
- Women in the Wind, where Elin has found the most amazing support and some wonderful riding friends. She also recommends it as an awesome place to network.
Do you have a bling’d out bike? Are you fashionably styling while you ride? Then check out How to get featured as a Biker Girl Bling’n It.