Posts Tagged ‘passenger train’

Durango-Silverton RxR Vista in Watercolor

September 7, 2011

Durango-Silverton RxR Vista in Watercolor

With the opening of my first-ever One-Man-Show only three nights away, it has been fun, finishing watercolor compositions and delivering them to the Weiler House Fine Art Gallery (  This afternoon, I got a sneak preview of the installation of the show, and was delighted to see this piece presented in a beautiful custom mat.  Besides my trademark nostalgia watercolors from the American 1950’s, there are several railroad compositions included in the show.  The scenes include Burleson, Texas, Eureka Springs, Arkansas as well as Durango, Colorado.

I cannot explain my train fetish.  From my childhood, I was flooded with that sense of wonder and delight of model railroads, and still remember my first Lionel layout when I was of preschool age.  I also remember pressing my nose against department store windows late at night, staring at layouts with dozens of trains winding about in all directions.  We frequently picked up my grandmother at the St. Louis Union Station when I was barely old enough to walk.  I still remember the pain of my parents holding both my hands tightly as we hurried along, and I tugged and strove to look about at all the different sets of road colors on the F diesels that polluted the 31-track train shed.  In later years, I was fascinated with all the road names on the sides of the passenger cars rolling in and out of St. Louis–the Frisco, New York Central, Pensy, MOPAC, Burlington Route, Wabash, etc.

I haven’t painted as many trains in this past year as I used to, but now have serious thoughts about returning to the practice.  I’ve had the good fortune of meeting some railroad management figures who have assured me access, provided that I call in advance for appointments and sign the necessary waivers.  The Texas weather is finally cooling enough for me to be outside longer.  I guess it’s time to resume the trainwatching!

Thanks for reading.  I hope you can attend the opening of my show Saturday night from 5-9:00.  Weiler House Fine Art Gallery is located at 3126 Handley Drive, Fort Worth, Texas   76112.

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.

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, 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!