Author Topic: Impressionist Modelers?  (Read 2127 times)

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kevdog77

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Impressionist Modelers?
« on: October 13, 2007, 11:51:58 AM »
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In this morning's Columbus Dispatch, I read an article about a large garden railroad display at the Franklin Park Conservatory in Columbus, Ohio. The display's creator is a professional garden railway designer/builder, and has built displays all over the US. I found one of his quotes particularly interesting:

"To build a Supreme Court accurate scale model (in the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington), I don't know how many years it would take to do it. But in a couple months we did it -- and ours captured the way it's remembered, how it feels, as opposed to a perfect miniature version.

Scale models are like photographs of real life. We're more like impressionist paintings or a character artist."

It made me wonder how much of our efforts to create a photographic reproduction in miniature are lost on the viewer. Is it necessary to replicate every last detail in order to achieve the desired effect on a viewer, whether in person or via photography?

I'm not suggesting that time spent creating a scale replica is wasted, but perhaps this is an example of the law of diminishing returns. . .

What do you guys think?

BTW. . .here's the link to the full article: http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/life/stories/2007/10/13/1_BUSSE_TRAINS.ART_ART_10-13-07_D1_5G859K6.html?sid=101


up1950s

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Re: Impressionist Modelers?
« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2007, 12:42:08 PM »
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Its a personal thing . Some need to add sun shades and lift rings , some do not . The more detail , if done cleanly , the better it looks , but that has to be weighed with the cost , time , and popped synapses do to frustration of errors that need to be fixed or items ruined . Each of us have a boat that gets floated by our own desires .

3rdrail

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Re: Impressionist Modelers?
« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2007, 12:48:01 PM »
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Frank Ellison had it right way back in the 1940's. Model railroading is like a stage play. The actors are the trains (and their tracks). The structures and scenery are the set. So, while the trains themselves and perhaps a few railroad structures are exact replicas, the rest can merely be an impression of the scene. They "set the stage" for the action of the trains, as it were.

In larger scales, and to an extent even in N, structures and trees are "selectively compressed" so they do not overwhelm the trains while exacerbating the lack of distance between scenes on a model railroad.

If you've ever seen one of these "garden railroads" set up in a public park, you'll see that the structures are truly just impressions of the real thing. They're still fascinating, though.

FrankCampagna

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Re: Impressionist Modelers?
« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2007, 01:09:14 PM »
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That is just the term I apply to my style of model railroad. Wouldn't survive 10 seconds under the unforgiving eye of the close up lens. But I'm looking for an overall picture, not closeup detail. Probably won't be posting pictures of my work for that reason. Too many people would be complaining about the track, lack of this detail or that, etc., etc., etc. Frank
"Once I built a railroad, made it run......."

sirenwerks

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Re: Impressionist Modelers?
« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2007, 01:30:37 PM »
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Quote
Impression
1 a: a characteristic, trait, or feature resulting from some influence <the impression on behavior produced by the social milieu> b: an effect of alteration or improvement <the settlement left little impression on the wilderness> c: a telling image impressed on the senses or the mind...
5: an often indistinct or imprecise notion or remembrance...
7: an imitation or representation of salient features in an artistic or theatrical medium; especially : an imitation in caricature of a noted personality as a form of theatrical entertainment

The artist, in creating an Impressionistic work, acts as arbiter or gatekeeper of what he or she deems as important to creating the feeling of the scene. Some people feel realistic track is most important, some superdetailed rolling stock, some want to capture a time lost or a mood, etc. It's personal. Those naysayers who nitpick, without patent invite, are only trying to press their beliefs on others about what is important. If it makes me happy, and one primary reason I model is for the challenge, then I'm sated.
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DKS

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Re: Impressionist Modelers?
« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2007, 02:09:27 PM »
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In other words, modeling a mood...
"Life's a piece of sh!t when you look at it."
                                       —Monty Python

kevdog77

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Re: Impressionist Modelers?
« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2007, 03:01:02 PM »
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In other words, modeling a mood...

Not necessarily. Let's take a factory scene, for example. You can model an exact scale replica of that factory, or you can create a believable impression of it.

The mood, in this case, would be whether you model a busy, high-traffic factory, or an abandoned, rusted out shell of a former factory.

To me, mood has less to do with realism vs. impressionism, and more to do with the setting in a scene. What season is it? Country or city? Busy vs. abandoned? Dense population vs. desolate.  and so on. Mood is how a particular scene FEELS, rather than how it LOOKS.

DKS

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Re: Impressionist Modelers?
« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2007, 06:44:43 PM »
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Mood is how a particular scene FEELS, rather than how it LOOKS.

But when you look at something, it makes you feel a particular way; it's all tied together. It's probably rare that you look at something and don't feel anything. Art, after all, is about evoking a response in the viewer. That reaction is embodied by a feeling. A superdailed, highly realistic scene probably delivers dual impressions in the viewer: a very distinct sense of time and place, with the subtext of, "oh my, look at all of that incredible work." Whereas a more artistic interpretation might evoke an even deeper feeling because the details are less distinct, allowing the viewer to translate them into ones that are more familiar to them personally. In either case, all of the nouns (What season is it? Country or city? Busy vs. abandoned? Dense population vs. desolate) lead up to the verb (I've been there because it feels familiar).

To paraphrase, "The artist [of any kind of work] acts as arbiter or gatekeeper of what he or she deems as important to creating the feeling of the scene."

IMHO, FWIW.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2007, 06:46:35 PM by dks2855 »
"Life's a piece of sh!t when you look at it."
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CoalPorter

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Re: Impressionist Modelers?
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2007, 01:50:45 AM »
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I've always thought the works of some like George Selios
tend to be somewhat fancifull and overly dramatic.
John Allen somewhat humors and absurd reminding us to not
get too worried maybe?
While others, like Tony K and Allen Mc tend to be to rigid, stuffy
and pretensous.
Positive Trading Post With JustTraincRaZy, Railhead, OldBillIndy, Freighttrain

wm3798

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Re: Impressionist Modelers?
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2007, 09:39:16 AM »
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A model railroad layout, by it's very nature, is impressionistic.  No matter what scale or the scene you are attempting, there is compression of reality involved, leaving a scene that offers an impression of what the modeler deems most important.

Just as Van Gogh or Matisse concentrated on form and color to evoke a response, leaving detail to the imagination, many model railroaders focus on one or several aspects of the railroad environment to tell the story of their chosen subject.  Even Tony the K has had to do this, both on the Allegheny Midland, and his newer Nickel Plate.  Since his primary vision involves operations, his impression involves elements most critical to that, while the reality of a midwestern setting is significantly truncated (Indian wheat fields on a two' deep shelf?)

Lee
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Nato

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Re: Impressionist Modelers?
« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2007, 01:04:49 AM »
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  As an Art Major in college and someone who still paints (mostly water colors) for fun I say if you create the look and feel of the protype,when I say protoytype I mean a railroad  whether freelanced or a real company, then you have suceeded in creating the impression of the real thing. In other words if a UP box car looks enough like the prototype, paint wise and detail wise, but it isn't rivet accurate in every way thats ok in my book as long as a viewer feels he or she is viewing a UP 1950's car. I guess thats why I have always referred to my self as a Semi-Rivet Ciunter,if it has the basic look and feel then it is ok, as long it isn't an obvious error like a New York Central Hudson lettered for the UP who never owned them. Thats why the whole train of Con Cor U50's or Gas Turbines in the various non protypical paint schemes mentioned in another topic post might be interesting in its own colorful way. Getting back on track,I'am sure there are many modelers myself included if given the space maybe a gym sized room would model scenes to exact leingth ,with correct height mountains,and fullscale buildings,hey! we might even model the entire stste of Nevada in Z scale.

FrankCampagna

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Re: Impressionist Modelers?
« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2007, 06:20:20 PM »
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When I think of impressionistic model railroading, I think of it in the same vein as painting. If you look too close, you will notice that things aren't all that detailed, but the overall impression, mood, if you will, will be that of a down on it's luck railroad. No close up photos of my railroad. Frank
"Once I built a railroad, made it run......."

Walkercolt

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Re: Impressionist Modelers?
« Reply #12 on: October 17, 2007, 01:13:52 AM »
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As a matter of physics and materials, it's impossible to reproduce a perfect 1:160 size world. The smaller the scale the more "impressionistic" our railroads become. To me this is a plus for N-Scale. I don't have to worry about the correct grab irons on my rolling stock, because from three feet away you can't tell anyway. But in N-Scale I can reproduce a much more realistic sence of the Great Southwest with it's wide vistas and huge rock formations than I could in a larger scale. I like to say I like N-Scale because I can model trains, where in larger scales, I would model individual cars and engines(like I do in On30). I can easily capture the impression of a 115 car unit coal train in N, and on a big enough layout, it looks very realistic. N-TRAK layouts are by necessity very impressionistic, being little "chunks" of secenery, that don't usually follow any sequence, but when a large layout is assembled, the mind "makes-up" for the lack of depth to the sceans, and puts the trains into perspective with the "vastness" of nature. If we had any sense, we'd all model in something like "TTn3" so we could have ten car trains being loooong trains and mountains 6 feet tall to REALLY put some perspective in the scenery. ;D

DKS

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Re: Impressionist Modelers?
« Reply #13 on: October 17, 2007, 01:14:43 PM »
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If we had any sense, we'd all model in something like "TTn3"...

Did you mean Tn3? If so, the thought had crossed my mind (insert winking thingie here).

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