Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Framing a Subject...

Previously published on Hedley Junction

A great aspect of this hobby is about sharing. And by sharing, I don’t mean that meaningless unboxing carnival that has plagued modelling forums for the last few years, where everyone to ride the proverbial bandwagon in search of cheap attention. I’m talking about sharing musings about the hobby, its goals and philosophy. I recall Trevor Marshall often advocating hobbyists to enter the conversation by means of blogs and other such platform. While a good advice, I only started to appreciate this invitation to the public debate in later years. Writing a blog is a strange thing because you barely know who will be interested in your quests. So far, I’ve been blessed by many people that helped me shape my vision, providing both encouragement but also constructive criticism.

Developing a vision isn't a straightforward process...

Many years ago, I promised I would build a small layout depicting Connors, NB; a lovely Temiscouata Railway end-of-line station set in the St. John River valley on Maine’s border. However, I had a single condition to meet before starting this project: I need a clear artistic vision because I wanted it to be an impressionist piece, a layout with a soothing atmosphere, just like a well-executed painting.

A big part of this condition was conditioned by the way I would frame the scene. Until now, I had serious doubts how to do it, but thanks to Mike Cougill’s recent blog posts (one, two and three) about setting a layout in a room, I feel more confident in my work. That’s the nice thing with Mike, he has done enough in this hobby to be able to question the obvious. By doing so, not only he enable conversations, but also brings with it a level of sophistication we rarely see. Many modellers in the past influenced me and I’ve wrote about them a few time. They mainly confirmed my intuitions in providing coherent visions that shared many of my own observations. However, Mike’s influence doesn’t work like this. He is the kind of nagging little voice in your head asking “are you sure?” He isn’t aware of it, but his little voice guided me through the rebuilding of Clermont since last year. I no longer approach design as a set of steps to follow in order, but I now take a lot of time contemplating my work and looking how to make it better. It could have stalled me in a sort of paralysis; however, it provided in fact a reason to do better each time.

His recent posts triggered me to rethink about Connors as I am looking for a small and manageable home project. Many questions arose: how much layout, what to crop from the scene, how to frame the subject, how to work on it in a practical way, etc.

Interestingly enough, I’m coming close to a vision for this project. Like a professional photographer, I framed the subject from all possible angles, than worked on focus and lighting. I now feel I’m ready to shot the final picture. I suspect this picture will be blurry, kind of impressionist, with not so well defined borders. Light will be uneven, drastically enhancing some details and leaving others in the dark. Colors and textures will play an important role too and trains will be set in such a way they are the main actor on the stage. As you will discover in a future post, the framing goes beyond the scenic nature of this small layout and will also imply framing the action itself. I’m not sure many people attempted this artistic vision with pre-WW1 railways in Canada, but I sure feel it is a worthy pursue…

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