Posts Tagged ‘locomotive’

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.

Captain Jug’s Tavern, January 22, 2010

January 22, 2010

Captain Jug's Tavern

I’ve received favorable comments on my compositions arranged from various sites and photographs.  This one is comparatively clumsy, and it precedes the one I posted two days ago.  In fact it is one of my first “composites.”  The hotel is along historic Route 66, west of St. Louis.  It no longer stands–even the sign has been removed.  I looked at that place for twenty years on my travels back and forth between Fort Worth, Texas and St. Louis, Missouri.  I’ve watercolored the hotel several times, and may post some other renderings of it in the future.  The derelict brick building covered in growth was my Uncle “Jug’s” tavern called Riverview Inn.  It faced the Mississsippi River front at Neely’s Landing in southeast Missouri.  The tavern was backed up against a limestone cliff, and the cooler room where beer was stored was actually a hollowed-out cave in the face of the cliff.  The building had no back wall of its own–it was the stone bluff itself.  Of course the building is gone now.  My uncle has been dead for decades, and the river flooded it enough times that it finally came down.  But everytime I look at this painting, I still smell the stale cigarette smoke and the beer, and remember the blinking lights and bells sounding from the miniature bowling lane that operated when you put dimes in the vender.  I spent many a night on the Mississippi River dike across the railroad tracks from my uncle’s tavern, fishing for catfish and alligator gar.  Occasionally I would cross the tracks for Cokes, candy, popcorn, and to listen for a few moment’s to one of my other uncles playing steel guitar in the band that played there every weekend (first time I heard “Your Cheatin’ Heart”).  I don’t know what the liquor laws were, back in those days, but the remoteness of Neely’s Landing guaranteed that the music would go on and the beer would continue to pour long past 2:00 a.m.  I know that because I always fished the river till the sun came up, and sometimes the last of the cars would be leaving about then.

Because of the railroad tracks that were there, and because Neely’s Landing is probably now completely gone, I chose to add a switcher locomotive I found at an abandoned mine in Pacific, Missouri.  So–the hotel from Route 66, the switcher from Pacific and my uncle’s tavern from southeast Missouri combined for one of my first attempts at creating a fictional environment.  I don’t find this composition as convincing as my later work, but at least it marks for me an early attempt at creating a space that could appear to the casual viewer as real.  Thank you for pausing to look.

Oh!  One more thing!  For any of you who have been following my recent blog entries, I just looked at this watercolor, and there is something else–my uncle’s tavern has a wing attached to it in this picture.  It doesn’t belong there.  If you will look, you will find this wing attached as a front porch to an old two-story house in my entry about my “First Gallery Sale.”  The house near Union, Missouri.  The wing attached to this tavern actually was the front porch of that house inUnion.  So–this picture combines Route 66, Pacific, Neely’s Landing, and Union.

Christmas Season in Bourbon, Missouri, January 17, 2010

January 18, 2010

Bourbon, Missouri train scene

After finishing two watercolors yesterday, I resumed work today on a fox hunt composition I started last fall but never completed.  I’ll post it when it’s finished (or nearer than it is now).  From my old collection, here is an important holiday memory.  I was returning from St. Louis during the Christmas holidays, early in the morning, driving through a beautiful snow, listening to Mozart on the tape deck.  Suddenly I saw this beautiful railroad embankment with snow all over its sides, bending gracefully into the horizon.  Using an old 35mm camera, I photographed the scene, and as soon as I got home, worked out this watercolor composition and added a train.