Posts Tagged ‘Iron horse’

Eureka Springs Railroad Environment

July 4, 2011

Eureka Springs RxR

The 4th of July has turned out to be a decent day for painting.  Once my thermometer reached 106, I decided it was time to get out of the garage and retreat to my indoor studio (I cannot bear the dim light of the indoors, once I’ve indulged in plein air, nevertheless I’m not inviting heat stroke either).  It’s nice to work in an air conditioned place now.

I began this small 11 x 14″ piece on the last day of class with my Eureka Springs School of the Arts group.  It was Friday morning, and I felt a heaviness, knowing I was going to leave Eureka Springs and all its beauty that day, yet anxious in my heart to get on to the next appointment.  I felt that great things were just ahead.

Once I took out this piece today, I realized that the antique steam engine really needed a set of wheels.  So I fortunately had a reference photo taken on location, and set to work today trying to finish out the bottom of this composition.  I’m glad to bring closure to this work.  Again, I have too many conflicting feelings co-mingled, as this painting takes me back to the end of Eureka Springs and the transition back to life as I know it today.  It has not been an easy shift, and I’m still working to get my feet back underneath me.

I have filled out an application for the 2012 academic year at Eureka Springs School of the Arts, and hope I can return to this remarkable mountain town next summer.  This quaint Victorian mountain town is a plein air artist’s dream.

Thanks always for reading.

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Colorado Dizziness! Durango-Silverton Railroad Watercolor Finished!

July 4, 2011

Durango Silverton RxR finished

This 4th of July finds me somewhere between Vincent Van Gogh’s steam locomotive and Andy Warhol’s factory.  I’m possessed with an energy to kick out some art work on an assembly line.  I frequently allow a number of watercolor partial attempts to accumulate in my studio–some that I regarded as “finished enough” en plein air and others that just started out badly and I abandoned them but did not throw them away–just threw them aside.

Now and then a day comes along like this one, where I choose to line up the unfinished pieces and resolve to bring them to their conclusions, sign them, blog them and move on.

This painting began during the Art in the Park festival in Kennedale, Texas.  During a slow moment in sales and traffic I sat on my stool and began this work, using a small reference photo (3 x 5″).  I never thought anything significant would come of it–just passing time (festivals can become rather long when the sales taper off).  In the months following (this began in April), I took the sketch out now and then and “diddled” with it.  I thought it was finished last week, but then saw some more things in it that bothered me.  Now I’m satisfied.

I long for the next time I get to board the Durango-Silverton.  My wife and I are thinking seriously about a trip to Colorado when the Aspens start to turn.  We’ll see.

Oh well, I have another railroad composition awaiting-one that started badly.  We’ll see if anything positive can come out of that.

Thanks for reading, and happy 4th of July.

Quick Watercolor Sketch of the Durango Silverton RxR

June 30, 2011

Durango Silverton RxR Skirting the Gorge

Every time I think I have finished this small watercolor sketch, I find something else to do to it.  I began the work while sitting in my booth at Art in the Park last spring in Kennedale, Texas.  My reference photo is a small 3 x 5″ photo I took with a throw-away digital camera purchased years ago before I bought my own Nikon.  I had the privilege of sitting near the back of this train, and was able to photograph the front portion of it as it wended its way around the mountains between Durango and Silverton, Colorado.  I still haven’t managed to capture the steam billowing out of the engine, and feel that I’m going to have to do some scrubbing with a towel or maybe even some sanding with light-gauge sand paper and begin again.  I really want to show the steam.  I’m also not satisfied with the misty trails in the distant valley to the right.  I feel that it looks as though I just quit on the foliage.  I believe the cliff face in front also needs additional work on the deep shadows, and there are some details with the yellow passenger cars that I forgot to finish out.  Anyway–plenty more “playing around” left to do on this way.  All the same, I wanted to post it on the blog, so here it is.  Hopefully I’ll show it again when I get it where I want.  It’s a small piece by the way, about 12 x 16″.

Thanks for reading.

Union Pacific #844 finally completed, April 15, 2010

April 15, 2010

Union Pacific 844 in Fort Worth, Texas

Finally, I got this one finished in time for the Art Festival that begins tomorrow.  This painting marks one of my most sublime moments in plein air painting.  I traveled to Fort Worth on a Friday afternoon to paint this train that was arriving that day.  On the following morning, rising at 6:00, I returned to the location and did this painting (started it, anyway).  The wheels and detailing I completed in my studio this evening, using photos I had taken of the locomotive.  I am now making 5 x 7″ greeting cards of it with an explanatory text on the back.

An evening at the Drafting Table, April 12, 2010

April 12, 2010

Union Pacific #844 in progress

It’s hard to concentrate on school work daily when I have this image burned into my retina from last Friday and Saturday of the Union Pacific #844 that visited Fort Worth.  I had a full slate of high school classes today, and a college class tonight, but managed to steal about 90 minutes at my drafting table this evening and resume work on this composition.  All I’ve managed to do this evening is work on the wheels, track and cowcatcher.  At least it’s starting to look more like a steam locomotive now.  I think it will really begin to “pop” once I add the numbers and lettering to the signboards on front.  The bell could use a little more burnishing as well.

My major challenge with this watercolor is rendering the “blackness” of the locomotive.  I threw away my black pigments in June of last year, and have really enjoyed the challenges of mixing my own cool and warm blacks.  Of course with this image, it’s been a challenge, because I have to keep finding ways to separate the cool and warm dynamics of the overall black color of this locomotive.

This is turning out to be great fun, and I’m delighted that I have two of these in progress (the first one I haven’t touched since Friday night, but I will).  I plan to do a third, because I was smitten when the morning sun came out strong, and lit up the front of this train with bright gold colors.  I had already committed to the muted, overcast lighting, and had the basic washes already laid in.  Fortunately, my camera was with me, and  I captured some nice photographs of the sunlit locomotive, before the sun hid itself for good.  So, I plan to do a sun-washed gold-highlighted rendering of this loco as well.

I’m just sorry that I have to put in the lion’s share of my daily hours tending to school details.  Tomorrow I’ll face three different preps with three different classes.  And, of course, I have a 3-day art festival coming up this weekend.  There is still plenty of matting, shrinkwrapping, labeling, and inventory checking to do before the big weekend arrives.  And . . . I’m hoping to finish this along with the other two freight train paintings posted previously (a UP and a GATX freight).  So little time . . .

The woods are lovely, dark and deep

But I have promises to keep

And miles to go before I sleep . . .

Thanks for reading.

Union Pacific 844 send-off, April 10, 2010

April 10, 2010

Union Pacific #844 the morning after

When the alarm went off at 6:00 a.m. and it was still dark, I thought I had made a mistake.  When I dressed and stepped outside later, without showering, breakfasting, and found it to be chilly in the pre-dawn air, I thought I had made a mistake.  When I found the ramp to US 287 closed, I thought I had made a mistake.  When I missed the I-30 exit ramp off I-35W I thought I had made a mistake.  It seemed the morning would not go as planned.  Upon my arrival, it was still murky outside, but I took up my position on the north side of the parked UP 844, and as I drew out my supplies from the backpack, I realized I had not packed bottled water.  I knew I had made a mistake.  Oh well.  Sharpening a pencil, I decided to draw slowly, deliberately, carefully.  After I had done nearly all I could, and wished I had water so I could flood color on the page, Mr. Belnap of Union Pacific (who had introduced himself the evening before) came by.  When I asked if there was bottled water available anywhere, he directed me to a cooler set out for the employees, filled with bottled water!  He said “Help yourself.”  The morning was saved after all.

I enjoyed the overcast light on this magnificent locomotive, and once I had blocked in all the tones, the sun then popped out, showing a brilliant yellow light on the front.  I couldn’t change the watercolor, so I quickly took several photographs, and then the sun went away for good.   So . . . I have the best of both worlds.  Hopefully soon I can begin another study of this locomotive under the bright morning sunlight conditions.

The train pulled away at 8:30, and the moment was over, but not the memory.  It was a great morning to be out sketching.

Thanks for reading.

Union Pacific #844, Fort Worth, April 9, 2010

April 9, 2010

Union Pacific #844 in Fort Worth, Texas

The Union Pacific #844 (last steam locomotive to be manufactured by Union Pacific) has traveled from Wyoming all the way to Fort Worth, where it arrived around 5:00 this evening.  I was on location to paint it directly (as posted) and have taken many, many photographs of it for studio work in the future.  I met hordes of fascinating people this evening while painting–friendly railroad enthusiasts.  I even got to meet some Union Pacific employees, including the Director of Operations Support Transportation.  Everyone was in a festive mood and the train had a store selling memorabilia from one of the passenger cars.  The train departs tomorrow morning at 8:00, heading south to Houston.  I have a notion to set an alarm rise early, and see if I can capture some good compositions in the morning light.

Thanks for reading.  This evening was very refreshing!