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Draw­ing shiny, re­flec­tive chrome has quickly earned Shep­par­ton Diesel boss Brett Sullivan a rep­u­ta­tion as a tal­ented artist

Draw­ing shiny, re­flec­tive chrome has quickly earned Brett Sullivan a rep­u­ta­tion as a tal­ented artist. Tamara Whitsed

vis­its him in Shep­par­ton

DUR­ING WORK HOURS diesel tech­ni­cian Brett Sullivan keeps busy at his fam­ily busi­ness, Shep­par­ton Diesel. But most evenings and week­ends you’ll find him draw­ing com­mis­sioned art­works in a stu­dio at his home at Shep­par­ton, Vic­to­ria. “It makes life pretty hec­tic,” Brett says. But some­how he also man­ages to vol­un­teer his time and skill for some great causes, in­clud­ing the re­cent Great South­ern Hearts Drive for Life, which helped drought-af­fected farm­ers. He do­nated a draw­ing fea­tur­ing Ken­worths owned by the two or­gan­is­ers, Glenn ‘Yogi’ Ken­dall and Peter Wright. The draw­ing was auc­tioned on­line and raised $1,000 for drought re­lief.

Brett has also do­nated draw­ings for truck shows as far away as Tas­ma­nia.

He demon­strated his skill for Owner//Driver when we called in at Shep­par­ton Diesel re­cently. We watched him draw a shiny hub­cap, com­plete with re­flec­tions, con­trast and shades.

“A lot of peo­ple have en­quired about my chrome pen­cil. It’s ac­tu­ally made up of prob­a­bly 15 to 20 dif­fer­ent shades of dif­fer­ent colours,” Brett says.

Next he worked his magic on a tyre. He be­gan with a black Copic marker and then reached for his pen­cils. “You use French greys, cool greys, warm greys, dark char­coals – then a lit­tle bit of black for high­light, just to give it that gen­tle con­trast and give the whole tyre a de­cent shape as what it would look like in real life.”

Brett was “very in­ter­ested in pen­cils” as a child, and was en­cour­aged by his par­ents. “I prob­a­bly started around four or five years old, just draw­ing car­toons and things like that – pro­gress­ing through pri­mary school and high school. I did a lot of art­work, air­brush work, graph­ics.”

But his art took a back seat when he started work­ing at his par­ents’ busi­ness. “I did my trade un­der my father [Dennis] as a diesel in­jec­tion tech­ni­cian. I’ve been do­ing that for the last 20 years.” His par­ents have re­tired and now Brett runs the diesel fuel in­jec­tion re­pair busi­ness with his wife Tracey.

Drawn to pen­cils

In Jan­uary 2017 Brett picked up the pen­cils again, ini­tially as an out­let for rest and re­lax­ation. His brother-in-law, Luke McIn­tosh from Kyzer Kus­toms, Shep­par­ton, was im­pressed with Brett’s early at­tempts and en­cour­aged him to de­velop

his skill. Brett drew a few trucks which had re­ceived Kyzer cus­tomi­sa­tions. “Then the word got out.”

Brett’s Face­book page ‘Sullivan Sketch­ing’ and In­sta­gram ac­count @sul­li­vans­ketch­ing have helped spread the word. “Now I’ve got 15 or­ders to do and daily en­quiries.”

He says Tracey and their four chil­dren are his best crit­ics. “They’re quite sup­port­ive of both my trade as a me­chanic and the draw­ing af­ter hours. It takes up a fair bit of my time but they’re quite un­der­stand­ing.”

Each art­work takes be­tween 15 and 30 hours to com­plete, depend­ing on the size of the draw­ing and the amount of chrome on the truck.

His draw­ings are hang­ing on walls as far away as South Aus­tralia and Queens­land. Some have been com­mis­sioned as gifts. But many peo­ple or­der the draw­ings for them­selves. Of­ten it is an em­ployed driver – not the owner – who com­mis­sions the work.

Brett shares pho­to­graphs of works-in-progress on so­cial me­dia. Th­ese gen­er­ate con­sid­er­able in­ter­est, but the lowres­o­lu­tion images don’t do jus­tice to the level of de­tail in the orig­i­nal. As the work nears com­ple­tion, he stops shar­ing his progress be­cause he likes to sur­prise his clients with the

fin­ished work. “They’re really blown away as to how re­al­is­tic they are.”

Sur­prise pre­sen­ta­tions

Many of the com­mis­sions have been sur­prise gifts, and Brett doesn’t share th­ese on so­cial me­dia un­til af­ter they have been pre­sented to their new own­ers. “There’s one I did for Gil­lieston Fresh Pro­duce, which I had to keep hid­den from the pub­lic for about six weeks.”

Ang Borzillo or­dered it as a sur­prise for his father. “They were all quite rapt with it.”

There are some reg­u­lars among Brett’s grow­ing list of clients, in­clud­ing Jye Sav­age of Alexan­dra. One of the trucks Brett has drawn for Jye is a de­tailed con­cept draw­ing.

“The truck’s not ac­tu­ally real or built, but he had this idea in his head. He wanted to see what it looked like on pa­per, so he ba­si­cally told me what he wanted and I put it on pa­per for him,” Brett says.

One of Brett’s favourite draw­ings fea­tures a mass of chrome which added many hours to the project: “Jamie Hawkins got me to draw this big cab of Char­lie Gat­tuso’s – the K200, which ba­si­cally runs all over Aus­tralia.”

Draw­ing black trucks, like Ja­son ‘Ju­nior’ Foo’s Peter­bilt 389, is also time-con­sum­ing. “It’s quite a nice truck ac­tu­ally and quite chal­leng­ing to draw, be­ing all black. It took prob­a­bly be­tween 20 and 30 hours.” Brett likes this draw­ing so much that he uses it as the Sullivan Sketch­ing logo.

The live fire on An­thony Boland’s Peter­bilt was an­other big chal­lenge. Brett worked hard to have this draw­ing com­pleted be­fore Father’s Day. “His dad was quite im­pressed.”

Skilled craft

Brett says hun­dreds of hours of prac­tice were needed to de­velop his skill. “I’ve ac­tu­ally had quite a few peo­ple – older peo­ple and young blokes – who send me their pho­tos of their sketches that they’re do­ing.” And while some of th­ese are ‘quite ba­sic’, Brett says his were of a sim­i­lar stan­dard when he started draw­ing trucks. “So you’ve just got to keep prac­tis­ing. YouTube and Google are great tools to ac­tu­ally bet­ter your craft and your skills.”

He says the work he pro­duces to­day is much bet­ter than what he was draw­ing 12 months ago. “It’s just ded­i­ca­tion, re­search, prac­tice; and no mat­ter who it is, they can all cre­ate this sort of art.”

Watch our video at www.own­er­driver.com.au to see Brett at work.

“It’s quite a nice truck ac­tu­ally and quite chal­leng­ing to draw.”

Above L to R: Brett Sullivan en­joyed draw­ing Gil­lieston Fresh Pro­duce’s jet-black Ken­worth; A Wrights Earth­mov­ing Ken­worth drawn by Brett Sullivan. This was com­mis­sioned as a sur­prise giftRight: Brett Sullivan at his busi­ness, Shep­par­ton Diesel

Top: Brett Sullivan worked hard to com­plete this draw­ing of the Bolands’ Peter­bilt by Father’s DayAbove: Ju­nior­pete: Brett de­voted over 20 hours to Ja­son ‘Ju­nior’ Foo’s Peter­bilt 389Be­low right: Brett Sullivan demon­strates his skill

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