Caricaturizing it

The concept of what I want to do is: caricature, semi-kinetic art. This means exaggeration and emphasis, one way or the other. So a cartoonist might make a thin lady fat or fat one thin. Noses get lengthened, eyebrows become super bushy. You know what I mean. Then there's model railroads.

If I were to think of a caricature model railroad, the one that seemed to emphasise that best, was created by a guy named Malcolm Furlow. Malcolm took the basics of Rocky Mountain "ism" and exaggerated it to the extreme in HOn3, emphasizing the vertical.
Not sure who took this photo. May have been Malcolm or Charley Getz.

I didn't use his Denver and Rio Chama Western as inspiration, just enjoyed it as an exercise in art. Malcolm is an artist, not necessarily a model railroader per se. This really upset the purists something awful (they just couldn't handle him), yet that is the aim of caricature and he achieved that, so—well done Malcolm (if you ever read this).

Another modeler was Harry Brunk. Harry modelled the Colorado and Southern. The one thing he did well was termed, selective compression. So a long industrial building which had 10 large windows each only had 4. This too is a form of caricature (imitation altered), even though it basically looks like the prototype.

While I will not be going to such extremes as Malcolm, things will be caricaturized. Buildings will look feasible, but...

Rolling stock the same. The scenary will be as realistic as possible, yet with a, "hey wait a minute", hanging in the background. The Rocky Mountains will not be my location, just somewhere, oh, out there—you know.

I'm looking at a soft caricature, the loco will be one that probably never existed, some cars the same. Yet still maintain feasibility. The image of my locomotive in 55n3 is an example. The prototype was a Denver South Park and Pacific 2-6-0 (I used a MDC 0-6-0 as a base to work from).cit2.jpg However, their smokestacks were very tall and balloony, I shortened it to give a balance and look better. The headlamp smaller so it wasn't as prominent. Some bits I couldn't find, so used what was available. The flanges around the domes are small O ring oil seals from a motorcycle engine. It ran very well, was a viable bit of motive power and achieved what I wanted to do. I mean, that's what it's all about—isn't it.

As I'm writing this my mind keeps wandering to the trackage. I think I will bury it, so that it looks like the dirt of the ages has taken over the roadbed. I might even make it a little crooked (that really happened on some of the New England 2 foot railroads).

As for the ground, it was going to be dark, but I've changed my mind about that. I thought about having volcanic rock faces. Like the ones I free-climbed as a teenager in the State of Washington. Those dark rocks stared me in the face as I descended and ascended 25-80 foot cracks in the ground with a small creek at the bottom. The model rail club in Spokane found that the dark insulation of refrigerated cars, was the same color and they had cliff faces of the almost black rock.

One thing that I did change, was to widen the layout to 17 inches and add an inch at each end to make it 9 feet long. It's all a learning process for me—hey it was over 40 odd years ago and I've forgotten some stuff.

Then there's the ground

No matter where you are in the world, there is one constant, the ground. We live on it, travel on it and land on it from the ships of the sea or aircraft. The same is true here. I've used natural materials from the beginning, decades ago, for my scenery. Normally the only thing on the ground not from nature is scenic scatter from people like Woodland Scenics (trees and rocks not included). I've been separating the various bits and pieces which is going to be used for ground cover. As boxes are filled and stuff collected there is one thing that keeps working in my imagination.
This is part of a painting entitled, "View on the Stour Near Dedham" by John Constable. Notice the ground. Constable painted the details. Also, in nearly all his paintings, there is more than the whole. You can separate parts of them into vignettes where each one can stand alone as a painting by itself. How many vignettes can you find here? This is one of things I want to achieve on my model railroad layout.

Another aspect is perspective. Constable was great at it, but on a model railroad which represents a tiny portion of a mountain side, on something as narrow as I'm doing, that's impossible.
I could put something between say some trees and a building, where it could only be viewed from one position, but even then it would probably have to be extreme impressionist.

The ground will be the main theme, it stays the same (well sort of anyways), buildings come and go, railroads are here one day then gone the next and change is rampant in some cases. Preparation is a big deal if you are going to paint a picture. Many artists do a sketch or several before beginning to apply paint to the canvas. Even the canvas may have a very light sketch over which the oil paint is brushed on. That takes time and the same applies to a model railroad.

Once the base of the hillside is in place some Sculptamold will be used, but not like I've seen in various videos. There they smooth it out, so why use it in the first place, plaster is better and cheaper. Sculptamold is lumpy. It dries that way. Which is ideal for really rough ground and once my basic ground cover is on I have something with a lot of texture. As I hike around, nothing is smooth, it's all rough, especially off trail in forests and general terrain (if I want smooth I'll go to a golf course).

Trees and Rocks

Since the layout is loosely based on Colorado narrow gauge, most of my trees will mainly be representative of pines with a few deciduous ones here and there. A lot of bushes on top of the base ground cover with rocks, stones, broken branches etc-etc.
Tree bark can sometimes look good for a rock face.

For rock faces (low cliffs) I'll try using tree bark and if that doesn't come up to scratch I'll cast some using aluminum foil as moulds. I began with rubber moulds, back in the 80's, and did quite a few using big chunks of coal as a base, they are now part of Woodland Scenics collection.

Rolling stock

Not much to say or show. I just may Bauhaus it, that oughta be interesting.

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- Ted

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