Even though Steam preservation is more popular than ever and also more widespread across the U.K. sometimes it’s just not possible to experience this world. Perhaps where you live sadly doesn’t have a society near by. Or maybe the chores of day to day life prevents you from experiencing the joys, for some at least, that comes from witnessing a steam engine retracing a part of transport history. Having felt I had been in that situation of late I wanted to do my bit in some way to help this world come alive.
Recently I was considering where would be a good place to further the exposure of my heritage paintings. During one of my regular visits to the Watercress Line Website I noticed a donation request by the Urie Society. As the name suggested the society are in the process of bringing back to life, and service, two Robert Urie designed S15 class engines. Though I couldn’t make a financial impact in their fundraising I certainly could offer a painting to help! It was the obvious choice as following my schooling days at Perin’s School in New Alresford, which resides by the Midhants Railway, I was left with plenty of memories of at least one of the engines awaiting it’s previous restoration.
The long and short of it is that I pleased to say that the society were more than happy to accept a painting of, it was decided, Southern Railway S15 506. Or as it became in BR days 30506.
So the task began to create a painting that fans of steam would want to buy!
As always it was research time. From recent photos taken on the Midhants to faded images from as far back as the 1920’s, I amassed what I could to help capture the character and detail of 506. It was I have to admit as much about my thirst for historical information as purely acquiring references for the painting. I also wanted a challenge, as I always do, so decided to set the scene in it’s BR days which meant black livery. With a view dominated with black, greys and browns it would take that bit more planning and creativity to keep the final piece of artwork interesting to the eye.
A view was chosen of 30506 as she resided outside Feltham Sheds. Partly due to the number of photographs taken but also because this was the last of her locations prior to scrapping. Technical details were again important when making the initial drawing, making sure every connecting rod was present and all essential piping went to the correct place. But not so much detail that it became more of a piece of draftsmanship that artistic representation.
During painting washes of purple, brown, blue and red flowed together in varying amounts to make the S15 come alive as it was shown sitting in the light billowing smoke from it’s chimney in preparation for a days work.
So with all things done the painting now sits in a its 16 by 12 inch dark sustainable wood frame depicting a snapshot in the life of Urie S15 30506. A life that I hope will continue for many years when she goes back in service. And when people look back at 506’s history, perhaps because they too yearn for information, this painting will from time to time appear to help capture the nostalgia of steam.
In time prints of this painting will be available for purchase and I hope many will enjoy having a copy as much as I have enjoyed painting it. I’ll post details of availability when I have it.