King of dirt

Photorealist painting of TJ Lavin

Photorealist painting - King of Dirt
Click on image to view full size

This is one of my earliest paintings. It is based on a magazine article and was modified to reduce the lens distortion somewhat.

  • At the time backflip variations like this were next level. Even today it is extremely cool to see BMX riders going for it like this.
  • I was contacted many years ago by Mr Lavin who made some enquiries about the painting. I deframed the painting and repaired the scratches in the blue sky, but he ultimately didn’t want to buy it.
  • The faces are a little unusual, but that’s down to the fact that the source image is a little weird in that regard. Hats off to Keith Mulligan for capturing an incredible moment.


Dimensions: 62x91cm.
Painted: 2001.
Materials: Acrylic on MDF board.
Availability: For sale $1000.

The story behind King of Dirt

This photorealist painting of TJ Lavin pulling a backflip turndown is one of my earliest paintings. I had a passion for racing my BMX bicycle at the time, and it made sense to recreate this moment in time as a work of art.

By copying a photograph, my ability to render scenes that would otherwise be almost impossible accurately, allows me to have an enormous range of subject matter. This photograph appeared in Ride BMX magazine and instantly had appealed to me as an image that I just had to paint. It wasn’t easy – I had to reduce the wide-angle lens distortion because it was, for my mind, too obviously ‘photographic.’ So I used Photoshop to alter this before I recreated the image on the MDF board in a pencil drawing.

This painting is all about the joy of riding a BMX bike. Thankfully it captures an incredible moment in time. TJ Lavin was one of the earliest superstars of BMX dirt jumping. He had an astonishing range of tricks. At the time of this contest (circa 2000), very few riders were capable of pulling off such difficult backflip variations.

Source image: Ride BMX – October 2000

Photorealist painting - King of Dirt - Detail 1
Photorealist painting – King of Dirt – Detail 1
Photorealist painting - King of Dirt - Detail 2
Photorealist painting – King of Dirt – Detail 2
Photorealist painting - King of Dirt - Detail 3
Photorealist painting – King of Dirt – Detail 3
Photorealist painting - King of Dirt - Detail 4
Photorealist painting – King of Dirt – Detail 4
King of Dirt - Source photo - Ride BMX magazine - October 2000
King of Dirt – Source photo – Ride BMX magazine – October 2000

Although this painting is to be sold unframed this is what it could look like. It is shown for a better understanding of its size and presence.

Photorealist painting - King of dirt - Wall mockup
Photorealist painting – King of dirt – Wall mockup

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