Sketchy details


I suppose the title should really be sketching the details but for the sake of an interesting title sketchy details seems more approprite and compelling.

For someone who has chosen a style of painting and drawing that is loose and almost shaky I’ve probably picked the most complex of subjects to paint. When it comes to painting steam traction David Shepherd once said that the combination of circles in all their varying perspectives and positions certainly provides a challenge to any artist.

From wheels to buffers and everything in between, I perhaps spend the most time planning and laying out a painting since getting those circles correct can be the difference between success and failure in my mind. That’s not to say that I will go all out to create the most technically drawn piece of art. Perfecting positions at the inital stages provides a guide to which my rather sketchy approach of drawing can follow. If you observe one of my paintings the final curves are by no means correct to the ninth degree but had they not been correct in principle the perspective would have gone out the window long before pen and watercolour hit the paper!

My most recent commission of a BR Standard class 4 2-6-4 is a case in point. As it’s Whyte notation suggestsa way to classify steam locomotives by wheel arrangement, it has 2 leading, 6 driving and 4 trailing wheels. Though not all are seen each never-the-less has to be considered to ensure the most accurate of compositions. Those circles are the essence of any engine, the driving force so to speak.

Then there are the cylinders that clearly define its type. The smoke box is surely, if you take Thomas the Thank Engine to heart, the face of an engine and the following curves of the boiler is most definitely the heart. All are circles, many face in opposite directions but all need to be somewhat correct. It’s like creating a portrait of someone incorrectly to the point where the head is larger than the body and their limbs defy physical capabilities. I add this reference as last night’s BBC episode of Big Painting Challenge is fresh in my mind!

So next time you come across a piece of steam engine artwork, whether it be a photo perfect rendition or an exciting abstract piece, take note of those circles in all their complexity.


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