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June 24, 2017
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For Ted Green a hobby turned into an obsession

  • Airbrushed helmets by Ted Green

By: Irene Hilsendager
June 2, 2017

In the industrial area of Rohnert Park stands an A-board sign that says, “paint and body shop.” Nothing else! If you enter the driveway, you are greeted by old bodies of cars, half painted cars and really junk.

But enter the office of Ted Green, owner of the Absolute Customs, and what a surprise with a painted coke machine, refrigerator, skate boards, surf boards and framed pictures of cars that have been detailed to the point, which is the prettier one? 

Guitars have been painted for the B12 band, Huey Lewis and the News, Bare Naked Ladies and Chris Isaak. one would ask, why paint a guitar but after looking at each one you can understand the whole concept. 

His shop was moved to Rohnert Park three years ago but still lives in Petaluma with his wife and two children. His daughter attends Sac State and the son is at the Santa Rosa Junior College. Ted says, he has one problem, he loves being outside and also loves cars. 98 percent of his business is detailing cars and almost every week will go to a classic car show where he loves to either show or just look around at all of the fancy cars being shown. 

Ted paints everything and I believe if a person would stand still long enough, he would also get painted. Green said he doesn’t like to talk too much about himself but Ted seems to be a very friendly guy with so much talent, he talked about many things. He never likes to duplicate any design and by the looks of his photos, he never has. 

Ted painted the first low rider bike (a low rider classic) and is very proud of that fact. He said one of the strangest things he painted was a toilet seat. 

When asked why he started airbrushing, he recalls seeing his sister airbrushing blue jeans and was very intrigued by it. Mom was a pre-school teacher for 40 years but never painted. 

The subject came about when questioned as to why he was airbrushing helmets, fire and police helmets. He mentioned his brother-in-law and his father- in -law both were firemen in Novato. This brought about the story of Steve Rucker, a Novato fireman engineer and the members of his engine company E-6162 that had been assigned through a statewide mutual aid system to the Cedar fire near San Diego. They were assigned to defend a home in a hilly area near Santa Ysabel that was threatened by a wind-driven fire. Pushed by the wind, the main fire unexpectedly made a one-half mile run directly at Engineer Rucker and his crew in less than two minutes. The firefighters, facing severe thermal exposure, ran for shelter at the rear of a house.  Two firefighters made it safely to the interior of the house but then they heard a radio call from their Captain indicating that a firefighter was down. The firefighters retraced their steps back toward the engine but they were then told that Engineer Rucker was down and needed their help. Due to the intense heat, they were not able to go to the aid of Engineer Rucker.  Rucker could not be rescued and died of burn injuries. 

This inspired Ted to paint a fire helmet and donated it to the Rucker charity. Since then he will airbrush and donate to charities to raise money. Some of his helmets have gone as high as $3,000 and it all goes to charity.

Green says he could airbrush all day long and since he  doesn’t use any patterns, each one will come out differently. He will draw in a few lines and take it from there. Sometimes he will look at a photo and start penciling in a few steps but mostly it is from a talent that Ted has.

Airbrushing technique is the freehand manipulation of the airbrush, medium, air pressure and distance from the surface being sprayed in order to produce a certain predictable result on a consistent basis with or without shields or stencils. There are two type of airbrushing being used. A single-action or a dual/double-action. The double dual involves depressing the trigger on the top of the airbrush with the index finger to release air only and drawing it back gradually to the paint release. the most important procedure is to begin with air and end with air only. Looking at Ted’s phenomenal work you can see how detailed everything is done. Sitting in Ted’s little office was a day of looking at art and talent.  

Airbrushes are used to spray murals, graphics and other artwork on automobiles, motorcycles and helmets. This art form has been around since the fifties. The cost to hire a professional artist will vary from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on location, skill level and reputation. With seeing the works of Ted Green today, I am sure his work demands big money.