The thrill of velodrome cycling

The technique and process of drawing fast motion.

I was commissioned to paint this velodrome sprint portrait which was meant to be a present for the 18th birthday celebration of a very fast and skilled cyclist who rides for the Great Britain Cycling Team.

In this post you can discover the process and techniques I use when creating this cycling artwork and find out how I capture fast motion.

What I would always do before approaching any of my commissioned paintings is to do a bit of research to give me a better understanding of the subject I paint and in this way connect with the painting. 

I only had a vague idea of the velodrome, being an avid cyclist in the past I once had an opportunity to try this activity with my cycling club, however, for some reason it never came to fruition…

What is a velodrome? 

A velodrome is a specially designed cycling arena with steeply banked oval tracks consisting of two 180-degree circular bends connected by two straights. 

How hard is it to ride in a velodrome?

Watching the cyclists riding the velodrome looks scary, they are racing at such a fast speed! They can go as fast as 50 mph

The track is ridden in a counterclockwise direction. Left is the only direction the riders ever turn! The bikes are direct drive, they have no breaks and only one gear! 

In spite of that, I was told that it is pretty easy to ride and a lot of fun! One just needs to put pressure on the pedals to get it going and keep pedalling to avoid sliding right down the steep bank.

in velodrome cycling left is the only direction

The Process of Creating My Painting

Equipped with this knowledge I was very encouraged to give the velodrome a try, it seems like a lot of fun! 

I understand the thrill of velodrome cycling and I was eager to capture this emotion in my painting! I wanted to evoke the sense of action and speed in this painting and capture the excitement, adrenaline and feeling of freedom that one may feel when riding in such a whirlwind.

I used the photos I was given to set the scene and created a mock-up of the project in Photoshop. This is something I always do before starting the painting so I can show the client my vision and see if it fits with theirs.

1. Watercolour pencils

First, I sketched the image on a 30/42cm canvas using watercolour pencils. The benefit of sketching with watercolour pencils is that if I made a mistake, instead of rubbing the image off, it is easy to wash the pencil marks away with clear water and wipe the surface clean…

Watercolour pencils leave a coloured mark on the surface in this way, helping me to set the colour scheme for my painting.

2. The vibrancy of ink

If I used an ordinary pencil it would leave muddy marks on my canvas spoiling the bright colours of the velodrome track. It is important to keep the surface clean because I paint with inks. The inks are quite translucent and the muddy marks of a pencil would show through and ‘contaminate’ my colours. The inks maintain brilliant colour even when they are dry. 

I also add inks to acrylic paints to make acrylic paint more vibrant and saturated.

3. The freedom of gloss paint lines

The intensive, deep black outline of gloss paint adds contrast to the painting making the bikes and the cyclists stand out of the background revealing the cyclists’ body position as they lean low to match the natural tilt of their bicycles on this sloped surface and to keep balance when riding. It looks scary to watch them riding at such high speeds, in close proximity to each other, with fixed gear and no brakes!
If there are some accidental splashes of gloss paint – they would add to the overall effect of action. After all, the message that I tried to create here, was all about movement and fluidity. I add the paint but the paintbrush does a lot for me too, some marks are unintentional yet very useful in complementing the atmosphere I wanted to create.

4. Acrylic paints – cover mistakes

The acrylic paints have opaque quality so can cover little mistakes. I did use acrylic paints for the background; their thick consistency helped me to render the texture of the velodrome track. It added a very warm tone to the overall picture but also emphasised the tension, heat and tumult of the cyclists’ journey.

5. More gloss – shiny surface

Next, I added white gloss lines, dripping them around the cyclists. In this way, I want to give the impression of space and fast movement… They also allowed me to give the image more exuberance and emphasise the presence of sunlight almost beaming off the painting and onto your face.

Finally, yellow gloss lines are used to show the reflection of light. The vibrant colour and the texture of gloss paint helps to give the impression of a shiny surface of the track.

How have I done?

Do you think I succeeded in my mission in capturing fast motion and action? 

Please, let me know in the comments below.

Velodrome Cycling – Available Originals and Prints

Original paintings and as well as quality prints of images used in this post are available in my Etsy shop:

Use code: GOSH10 for a 10% discount


I am painting your favourite sports in action

Your stories are just special. If there’s one you’d want to keep, a hand-made custom art piece can capture your memories forever.

Consider a commissioned piece of art, unique to you!

Perhaps you’ve run a marathon, cycled Land’s End to John O’ Groats, climbed Kilamanjaro, or you just jog around your local park! 

Whatever your level, you got involved in sports because you wanted to improve yourself, enjoy yourself and achieve the best, didn’t you?

My paintings will help you to record those special moments and memories and celebrate your great achievements.

So whatever your story, I can capture it on canvas for you and bring you a unique and vivid image of the athlete within you! 

See some examples of recent commissions:

Contact me about your commission

Tell me about your sport, activity and action that you’d like me to capture. Include photos in your message if possible (best to email me:


Published by Gosh Art by Gosha Gibek

Filling the world with colours, capture your passions and the athletic version of you.

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