Experience grows

When I’m trackside I often catch myself thinking how well modern railroading works for a modeller developing new skills. The scene above is in Dartmouth yard as it appeared at lunch today. This is a medium size yard that hosts three or four trains a day.

Learning to lay reliable track is a major point on the learning curve. From there we can learn to paint and weather it, then ballast. Once upon a time Woodland Scenics ground foam “grass” was the standard scenic treatment. It’s easy to apply and is sold in a broad range of colours. For me, it’s big fail point was the lack of three dimensional texture. That’s not a problem in the modern scene. CN keeps the grass in the yard cut closely to make it a safer place for its crews to walk when they’re at work. So, heck with texture, ground foam works here. As we learn, we can move further back from the track. Just as in the scene above, static grass and more detailed tree and shrub armatures along a fence line.

Collectively it could be an opportunity to grow with the work which might be a whole lot less to consider when you’re start.

Categories: How I think

5 replies

  1. I think we are all guilty of modeling what we see in magazines or on the web when what we need to do is get out in the world and look at what is there. I find British modeler Chris Nevard and North American Mike Cougill are useful correctives because they THINK and WRITE about their choices. I live on an island 30 miles off Massachusetts, and I need posts like this and theirs to keep me centered.

    • And observe the changes. Scenes like this were different in the 80’s so it’s worth keeping in touch, however we can, so we watch as the scene changes. Our wise friends often remind us that there’s always opportunity if we look for it. The way that the area around modern track is groomed for purpose and aesthetic value is just one example.

  2. When I read the comment on Jason Shron’s Kingston Sub modelling – grey day in November 1980 all along – that it looked like the Allagash, it really hit me. It appears that someone looked at his good work and immediately thought of another layout. Now I know Jason has had this goal all along. It just shows what we don’t want – to look like we’re modelling a layout photo in a magazine spread, not reality.

    We so often set our sights on this huge vista when what we really need is a concise tableau.

    Good eye on this scene, Chris!

    • It’s a difficult balance. I think many of us enjoy the hobby because of the way it provides us with agency, a voice to express ourselves and tell our particular story if we feel that we can’t do so in our lives. If we assume another modeller’s style we might be concerned that we inadvertently restrain our individual expression? Maybe then what we’re doing is proving ourselves by our ability to play as well as the other guy does (just like back in high school when the key to fitting in seemed as easy as wearing the right clothes)? Of course, maybe working in another artist’s style is for the sanctuary or comfort it provides us? That we like looking at that scene composed that way and being able to recreate it at home gives us a chance to use the vehicle of the hobby to revisit that special place when we need to without feeling like we’re imposing on our host?

      Certainly there’s some similarity between their styles. I’m a fan of that look. Grey backdrops and straw coloured borders. Given the palette of Canadian railroad colours can you imagine a better setting? A better compliment for a pop of a red cab or blue carbody?

      Thank you


  3. Not everything has to be static grass and laser cut corn!

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