I was asked a few days ago whats next on the blog?, and I replied I don’t know. Theres good reason for this, I tend to spend a good amount of time just ‘looking’ at all manner of things, and bringing those across to modelling, to me not only is modelling a ‘making’ past time, its a visual one. So one thing can lead to another and I’ll be grabbing thoughts and techniques from other genres, and this ‘thinking time’ is often the part that makes or breaks a modelling idea.
One of those days was last week, a day spent in London at the Tate Modern looking at the work of Roy Lichtenstein http://www.tate.org.uk
As one of the most recognisable ‘pop artists’ you’d think theres little that can be learnt for something as ‘accurate’ in appearance as a model railway.
Well, not so, it depends on how you think, and looking at an artists techniques and material use can cross over into other fields, for example texture, one of the most difficult things to capture and scale. Scale is an interesting concept too, we are used to seeing these images in a book, when you see the real thing 15ft by 6ft on a wall in front of you the impact is very much heightened. I did find myself wondering at ‘Whaam’ if Lichtenstein was trying to say something more about American military policies too, though he wasn’t a political activist type of artist in the wider sense. In the original artwork he adapted the aircraft being hit is clearly a Russian Mig 15, on Lichtensteins’ work its changed to an F-86, so he’s depicted a ‘blue on blue’ event, an American aircraft destroying another American aircraft, not ‘an enemy aircraft’ as is so often written. Not only that, the reference to ‘enemy’ is missing from his work where it’s on the original, see above. I didn’t expect to be thinking that when I walked through the door, or later trying to make sense of it in the beer festival …
One modeller on the blog column to the right hand side has a spectacularly good example of how to achieve this sort of crossover from art to modelmaking. On Iain Robinsons’ blog there is a very good piece on replicating texture and color, http://iainrobinson-progress
As Iain points out the painting of this model, (a clay dry) would be the making or breaking of it and he is right, the other thing though is the ability to recognise that, capturing the colors and texture in the painting of the building.
So you may not consider yourself as a ‘artist’ or painter, but by looking at others work you can often find a way, or route if you like of achieving what you want. For me at the Tate Modern, taking the time to look and get my head round some of the technique Lichtenstein used has meant that I have a new idea to try on the seamless digital backscene that we pioneered over a year ago, how time flies! My printer is going to be asking, did you think of this before you got to the beer festival, or after …
A very interesting post -I hadn’t picked that up about the Roy Lichtenstein piece, it alters the sense of it rather dramatically. Thank you for your kind words, I’m flattered and very pleased, because I am an artist by profession as well as a modelmaker and for me, the two things are really the same. It’s all about capturing an atmosphere or a feeling, the essence of something, as you do so effectively with your modelling. Oh, and I envy you your visit to the Tate modern!
Thanks Iain, without it wanting to sound like a mutual appreciation society I too have liked your drawings and modelling for many years and regularly read your blogs. In my ‘cut outs’ of past mags I still have the RM Wallingford article, as the sketches and modelling struck a chord with me then, and still do now.
The Lichtenstein exhibition is well worth doing, first dedicated ‘artist’ show I’ve been to since the 6th form too long ago to mention! It’s something I’ll do again, seeing ‘art’ close up and personal, full size, and hung/presented appropriately gives it another dimension which you don’t get reading a mag or text book. Whether that dimension translates for a ‘technical’ rather than ‘art’ type of personality I don’t know. I know I can appreciate engineering in its many forms, it’d be interesting to see if an engineer could see the reverse in art! Noting the F-86 in Lichtensteins’ piece for me stood out like a sore thumb, I once nearly bought five of them. Real ones! …
Or maybe Lichtenstein simply wanted a generic jet, maybe he didnt know what type he was depicting? Maybe it being an F-86 is not significant – if he didnt know?
The original attacking aircraft is a jet of some kind, what I’ve always assumed to be a rather crude version of an F-86. But in the Lichtenstein pic it’s clearly become a P-51, a propeller aircraft. The problem is that the rockets are firing through the arc of the prop (this has bothered me for years!) which cannot be. Did Lichtenstein know this was a problem? Was it deliberate? Does it matter? I dunno?!
I suspect Lichtenstein did know the differences between the aircraft types he painted. He had been enrolled on pilot training for the US Army Air Corps and had earlier in his life designed model aircraft, so he had some knowledge of the subject. I’d think he’d know basic differences just as we could spot a generic American locomotive vs a UK prototype, so I think his choice of outline was very likely a deliberate conscious design. It doesn’t alter my enjoyment of the work, but it does make me think a bit more deeply about it, which I guess is a sign of great art work.