Feels like driven not pushed

The subject of inspiration versus motivation is one that I have rambled through in previous posts here. I keep returning to it as a part of my own exploration of how we relate to not just our own work in this craft but also how we interpret others. When we see something a fellow model railroader has done that turns us on we feel that outburst of emotion growing inside and our need to express how much we connect with something our colleague has done. Despite being a hobby based on expression it’s that language to describe this connection that can be difficult to navigate. What inspires us might not be the same as what motivates us just as how I judge my own work is different from how I react to another’s. I was flattered to receive some thoughtful notes from James a little while ago and they were of a quality that needed to be shared.

I think everyone’s approach, inspiration, motivation and result, will of course be different. Over the years I’ve ‘finished’ a few layouts… usually when I’ve been able to focus on them, with either a deadline to hand or free time available to be focused, to act on the energy and allow it to sort of generate a chain reaction… a drive to push me forwards to be able to enjoy the end result… as for me; although I enjoy layout building, I prefer placing stock on the layout and taking photos.

James Hilton

I love how you’ve already subtly suggested one more position to contemplate this from: incorporating a definition of what “finished” means and when can we feel comfortable releasing ourselves from the work. Popularly it means the model is, in miniature, exactly how the real thing looks. In that way it’s a simple aggregate of details included in our composition. What if finished was an emotional measure? That we have built enough to have created something in miniature that is now capable of lighting that same fuse the real thing does. 

If we can distill what drives us without needing much push, eg for me creating a locomotive inspired by a photo… then to fully enjoy that I need a canvas to display it and hence a layout is born with a purpose…in the case of P-y-D especially, that purpose is then re-affirmed again and again. Beaverbrook is larger and I was unable to complete it in a short time. The contrast is interesting; it’s now not only a canvas but a plaything and the playing is enjoyable, even with just a sky backscene and cardboard mock-ups. Driving me forwards is the same need for a canvas but the pace can be slower because I’m enjoying the playing, almost too much… (it’s easy to pick up another locomotive project rather than build that structure) but it doesn’t matter because with the cardboard mock ups I’ve sketched out the scene, like an old episode of Paddington, and as an artist I can see my model in the finished composition even though to others it’s just a train on a length of track atop plywood! Both of these stories are of me… what do they tell us about this subject? I wonder too if there is something in the planning of both schemes to consider…

Do those early mock ups evoke the feelings we had when we look at the prototype in photos or video or our memory… does the mock-up itself generate enough energy for the next stage… does the playing encourage us onto scenics… does that early canvas lead to detailing… is this not motivation to complete a layout in one go (the same motivation from beginning to end) but rather a set of different motivations at different stages influenced by the project, it’s current state and the world around us… what’s going on in our real lives?

James Hilton

I think those are crucial ideas that absolutely enrich this conversation. Any artist is faced with a challenge to see what is actually there and not just what they think they see when they look at it. There are so many techniques to learn that skill and we need to get out of that education an understanding, not whether or not it is what it is but why we see it the way we do. I love James’ Paddington reference. The television show was a wonderful example of meshing fully-rendered models against a backdrop that was rendered in a completely different style. As we’ve been dancing in and out of, there’s an element of composition in this but the lens, here, remains inspiration and cultivating our understanding of what it is we react to. Inspiration here could also be a decision driving energy that helps guide our work: not how much do we need to include but how little do we need to nurture this attractive thing that motivates us to make something like it.

Does his end here, do we need to end with a question, or is this question the start of a second part?

James Hilton

I think my next questions are:

When you do something I react to in a way I like, is it that thing that is the connection or instead does it stimulate our quest to find a common ground? Was it that I wanted a way for us to connect and this model was the right agent or is it that finally we discovered that we share a mutual interest in this same subject matter?


I love these collaborations and look forward to more. It’s always a privilege. Thank you James.

Follow the story and see some simply fantastic modelling over on James Hilton’s blog: https://paxton-road.blogspot.com/



Categories: hilton & mears duo, How I think

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