Posts Tagged ‘Union Pacific’

Art Museum Wanderings

May 5, 2015

Architecture is the thoughtful making of space.

Louis Kahn

Inside the Fort Worth Modern

Inside the Fort Worth Modern. Photo by Joe Mabel

Waking without an alarm clock at 7:40 Sunday morning proved to be the commencement of a stellar day for me. The sun was bright, breezes high, and temperatures cool as the morning greeted me with its gentle caress. Saturday was spent all day at the Kimbell Art Museum, participating in a writing workshop. Today, I decided to visit the neighboring Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. Thjis beautiful piece of architecture, designed by Tadao Ando of Osaka, Japan, has become to me a cathedral for art. Every time I enter the premises, I feel a hushed state of expectancy. I just know that epiphany will occur.

Rooftop Scultpure Garden

Rooftop Scultpure Garden

After lingering in the galleries featuring the Abstract Expressionist, Minimalist and Pop artists, I decided to venture upstairs to the rooftop Sculpture Garden and enjoy some time outdoors in the shade, sketching the Henry Moore Two Piece Reclining Figure No. 2 gracing the lawn. I cannot explain the serene contentment I feel when I render something three-dimensional in pencil, whether it is a scullpture of piece of architecture. But I enjoy taking it all in, pondering it, and attempting to express it in the confines of a two-dimensional space.

Sketching the Henry Moore Sculpture

Sketching the Henry Moore Sculpture

Stephen's Iron Crown, by Robert Motherwell

Stephen’s Iron Crown, by Robert Motherwell

Gazing at the Henry Moore sculpture made me think of the contours of a Robert Motherwell painting inside: Stephen’s Iron Crown. Returning indoors, I spent some time in front of this large painting and sketched its compositional contours in the small sketchbook I was toting with me, finding ways to relate it to the sculpture outdoors.

Feeling an urge for coffee, I returned to the serene space I visited last week–the outdoor patio of the Modern Cafe, and read from my small Robert Motherwell: Works on Paper. I had managed to find the perfect time, space and climate for journal writing–no appointments, no responsibilities, just free time and great art around me.

Returning home I found myself now in the mood to pick up the brush and work further on this Union Pacific caboose I photographed years ago in the historic Handley neighborhood of east Fort Worth.

I find many reasons to delight in our era of improved access to information. Over a decade ago, I collected historic railroad manuals in order to track down information on diesels and cabooses, based on their road numbers. Now, I find nearly everything I need to know online. Thanks to I learned that this particular Union Pacific caboose was built by International Car Company in June 1967. After cabooses were removed from the freight trains, no longer needed for communication with the engineers in the locomotives, this piece of history was donated to the Old Towne Handley Railroad Museum. It now sits on the corner of E. Lancaster and Handley Drive in Fort Worth. I can see by photos of it online that it today sits on refurbished, gleaming trucks, whereas the photo from which I’m working still has the dark rusted wheels and undercarriage showing. I don’t recall how many years it has been since I took my photos of this caboose.

The day has been a genuine inspiration, and I think I can return to school Monday with a renewed spring in my step. Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Avalanche II

April 26, 2015

What a surprise awaited me when I opened the blinds to my living room Saturday morning and looked out into my back yard. The night before, I was at the Kimbell Art Museum, and they rushed us underground to avoid a tornado threat. I got home well after dark and didn’t think of checking my back yard, totally unaware of what was lying there to greet me the next morning. Crap. I called TXU to tell them there was a powerline underneath the tree. They wanted to know if I lost power? No. Were there sparks flying? No.Then they would get there when they could. Not yesterday, and not today either, apparently. So meanwhile, I get to look out at this titanic corpse of a tree that fills my entire back yard until they deal with the power line. Then I get to hire a crew to cut it up and haul it out.

Choosing to stay home the entire day, JUST IN CASE THEY CAME, I began reclaiming the rooms of my house that were set in disarray from my hauling out art work and furniture for last week’s festival. I don’t know how I manage this, but I trash out my house every time I get ready for an art festival, with all the matting, shrinkwrapping, packaging, packing and loading. Then when I return, everything just gets dumped back into the rooms, and I usually walk around it for a week before I get so sick of seeing it that I finally set to work tidying, and reclaiming my special work spaces.

Motherwell Room

Motherwell Room

Most of my art work is stored in the room I like to call my Motherwell Room. Robert Motherwell’s blend of artistic prowess with scholarly erudition has always had ways of motivating me to learn more, to be more. Thus, I have this room set up with all my Motherwell books, as well as a table for making art, and most of my unhanged art work arranged around the walls and stored in the walk-in closet.

Motherwell Room

Motherwell Room

I also reserve a corner of that room for my special reading. Saturday was given to a day of reading and painting.

Beginnings of a New Painting

Beginnings of a New Painting

It’s been awhile since I’ve sketched or painted railroad subjects. Here is a Union Pacific caboose I photographed a few years ago in the historic Handley neighborhood of east Fort Worth. I have a railroad series in mind that was inspired by some things I’ve read recently from Proust concerning the series paintings of Claude Monet. We’ll see how it all shakes out.

Thanks for reading.

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

Locomotives in Fall Colors, Grand Saline, Texas

November 7, 2011

Grand Saline UP and GATX in Fall Colors

One day after the Mineola Holiday Bazaar, I find myself decompressing (still pretty exhausted from the return trip and unloading all my freight late last night) and trying to finish this watercolor sketch I began yesterday afternoon.  The fall foliage back-dropping the bright road colors of this pair of diesels I found very striking on an early autumn morning last weekend.  I’m glad the fall finally has arrived (although a dreary one, color-wise–I made up some of the colors in this composition, recalling the vistas I enjoyed last year).  I hope to get in plenty of plein air activity this year.

Railroads have held my attention since childhood.  The bright color schemes fascinated me as a small boy.  They still do, of course, but I also find myself musing over where these huge diesels pull their freight daily, weekly, annually.  I always wondered about what the railroad crew got to see as they road the rails across this country.  I know there has to be the issue of boredom and bone-weary stretches of miles over time, but still, I would love to see American from the perspective of the rails.  And so, every time I’m driving in my Jeep and I look up to see a sight like this, I am filled with wonder and wanderlust.

In a few days, I’ll leave for Galveston, Texas for a four-day conference.  I’m not sure if I’ll have time or space to create art over that time span, but I’ll soon find out.  Meanwhile, I’ll try to push out another watercolor sketch or two in the next couple of days before I leave for that trip.  Incidentally, this watercolor sketch measures 12 x 16″, was done on a watercolor block (D’Arches 140-lb. cold press), using Winsor and Newton watercolors and Prismacolor watercolor pencils.  I’m enjoying this blend of materials for creating quick sketches.

Thanks for reading.

My Friend’s First Attempt at Watercolor–Railroad Trestle

February 27, 2011

Good-Bye Today

How about this for a first-timer?  My guitar buddy, David Slight, has been asking me for some time if I thought he could create a decent watercolor.  I always thought so.  He picked up the guitar really fast, and I saw him fly fish for the first time, handling a fly rod with dexterity and landing a 3 lb. largemouth bass from a farm pond.  So I shouldn’t have been surprised to see him knock this one out inside of two hours in my garage studio this afternoon.  The painting measures approximately 12 x 14″ without the frame.  I stood by to show him the basics–wet-on-wet, drybrush, graphite rendering, masking, scraping with x-acto knife, and he went right after it.

He was so pleased that he’s decided to come back Tuesday after school (David is also a public school teacher in Tarrant County).  Both of us probably wish that we could draw decent salaries by painting in the garage!  So, here’s looking to next Tuesday!

Thanks for reading.  Thanks Dave, for a fabulous afternoon of art and quality conversation.

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.

Getting Ready for an Art Festival, April 15, 2010

April 15, 2010

Southbound Union Pacific Freight

I have a three-day art festival beginning tomorrow (Friday) at Art in the Park Festival in Kennedale, Texas.  This afternoon, I have been a juggler with too many balls in the air.  Sixty-four postcards were mailed, and email strand was sent, and announcement was made to stuff over two hundred teacher mailboxes in the morning, I finished this small composition and a companion piece involving a GATX freight train in the same location.  I’m nearly finished with the Union Pacific #844 that I began a week ago.  I have printed several dozen 5 x 7″ greeting cards with my watercolors on the cover,  Oh yes, and I taught three different subjects today at school.  Hopefully tomorrow will be calmer after the festival gets underway (but first I have to teach three more classes, then dash to the park and set up my 10 x 10′ booth.  My wonderful wife will assist me in that, as she has also in a myriad of other details related to this festival.  How fortunate to have someone that committed to this enterprise.

Here is a southbound Union Pacific freight in Burleson, Texas that I began last month.  I recall, with amusement, that I had set up alongside a dual set of tracks, working on the structure in the distance, when I heard the whistle of the distant freight and scurried to get out my digital camera.  Thinking the train was on the far set of tracks, I stepped close to the tracks nearest me, and zoomed in on this freight and took the picture, so I could paint it in my studio later.  When I lowered the camera, I realized that the train was on the tracks right in front of me, and was highballing in my direction, closing the distance fast!  Stupid!

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!

Union Pacific en Plein Air, March 28, 2010

March 28, 2010

Southbound Union Pacific Freight

It was chilly in the late Texas afternoon, but I enjoyed some plein air activity at Lyndon Acres while my wife rode her horse.  I had photographed this southbound Union Pacific freight a few weeks ago while I was watercolor sketching in the old part of the town of Burleson.  The sky I laid in Friday night just before dark (and posted recently).  Yesterday afforded zero opportunities for painting as I had a day filled with errands and then Gallery Night was last night.  Happily, I sold a framed watercolor while there (on my website http://www.recollections54, titled New Mexico Road House).

I’ll be posting this watercolor in progress alongside an identical one featuring a GATX diesel leading the freight.  I’m trying to decide on how much finish work to do with these 8 x 10″ compositions.

Thank you for reading.