Some of the comments in Friday’s post lead the way to thinking about model railways as art, and it’s worth getting a book out of the library to refresh ourselves on the elements of composition. My favourite art book is Jeanne Dobie’s Making Color Sing. It changed my dabbling with watercolour dramatically.
One of the things I’ve learned is if you want to make a relaxing composition, then make it horizontal with lots of parallel lines and a harmonized palette.
If you want an exciting view, then go vertical with lots of angles and strong contrasts.
I have no idea why this colour-filled vertical-format painting is so restful. Maybe it is because you know the lines are really parallel. I’ve always liked it, though, and so I’m sharing it here.
The challenge with model railways is that they are naturally horizontal and dominated by parallel lines. So if the goal is to capture a sleepy branchline terminus, maybe you’re halfway there. If, on the other hand, you are seeking to evoke an exciting, busy railway, you have your work cut out for you.
The second challenge with composition and model railways is that it is not a painting, but a piece of sculpture. You can observe the railway from many angles, and this makes composition – already challenging and complex – that much more challenging and complex.
Finally, there is the fact that parts of the scene move! Not only do they move, but unlike choreographed dancers, they move in seemingly random ways. Unless they are automated, you can’t count on two trains to come together and pass at the right spot to create a sense of dynamism.
I wish I could say that I have given a moment’s thought to composition for Pembroke, but I haven’t. I happily accepted Lance’s prototype shackles as I drafted the plan. It’s still early days, though, and maybe it’s not beyond salvation.