HIGH DEMAND FOR BRETT’S SKETCHES
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.”
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.”
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