Musings on the American Railroad

Kansas City Southern Trackside, Waxahachie, Texas

I find it hard to believe that I have gone eight months without returning to Waxahachie to paint.  This quaint Texas town has been the setting for some of my most enjoyable plein air experiences, including the one posted above.  Every June, I participate in the “Paint Historic Waxahachie” event, a 10-day paint-out that brings 30-50 painters from north Texas into the town for the purpose of improving in the discipline of plein air painting.  Most of the artists are oil painters (and very professional, I might add).  A handful of us are watercolorists.

I have painted this setting twice during my three years of participation in the annual paint-out.  This one posted was created in June of 2011.  If you have been following my blog, you probably realize that the railroad is one of my favorite subjects for watercolor.  To me it is the symbol of the American Odyssey, and certainly an outlet for anyone experiencing wanderlust.  How many of us have fancied what it would be like to “hop a rail” and see where the freight takes us over the next 24 hours?

I am fortunate in that business cards have been handed to me by railroad employees and supervisors with invitations to come to their offices and gain access to rail yards for plein air opportunities.  I regret that I have yet to cash in on one of those offers, though I have saved the business cards.  Perhaps this summer there will be time to explore that possibility.

In my photo archives, I have countless shots I’ve taken over the years of trackside structures such as this one posted.  But I have always found those watercolors so unsatisfying.  Being on location opens so many more exciting possibilities, and I still remember my two visits to this Waxahachie site as yielding favorable results (and I sold both paintings within days to Waxahachie residents).

When I return in June for this year’s paint-out, perhaps I will walk to the other side of this structure to see the view from that perspective (hoping that I’m not trespassing).  And I think the time is past due to put a passing freight train on that main line.  That would be a challenge, but necessary, I believe.  Currently I have more ideas for watercolor compositions than time to execute them, but I guess that’s a better problem to have than the alternative of too much time on my hands and “blocked” for an idea of what to paint next.  If you have been following me, I have not given up on my Ridglea Theater idea.  In fact, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram published an article a few days ago concerning the renovations going on at that site.  I saved the article, hoping to return to Ridglea within the next few days to work on some thumbnail sketches and ideas.

Thanks for reading.


2 Responses to “Musings on the American Railroad”

  1. J Haeske Says:

    I hope I’ll get to see some more of those railroad inspired watercolors of yours. J


  2. J Haeske Says:

    Forgot to add that I like this one a whole lot. J


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