Thursday, May 23, 2019

Railroad Art and Artists: Scenes of Fantasy and Bygone Days

Railroad scenes, both historic and contemporary, lend themselves to those who have the gift of the artists' touch, something I learned that I do not have very early in life.

Being a fan of steam engines, history and steampunk, I created Steampunk Railroad as a side project to share interesting artworks. Given I've joined a few Facebook groups and websites devoted to the subject, I figured it was time to share and discuss some of my favorite works of railroad art, and the artists who made them.

"A 'Thompson' B1 Class Moving Empty Stock On A Cold February MorningPainting by David Nolan
While my focus is generally on the abandoned and forgotten railroads of the world, and their history, I also like seeing rolling stock in action, and I'm definitely not alone in that, given how many people traveled across the country just to see UP 4014 in action.

7) Philip D Hawkins

Philip D. Hawkins is a British Railway artist and member of the Guild of Railway Artists, who's talent pool is heavily featured in this blog. His website states that, "he was born and brought up in the West Midlands where, after leaving Lordswood Boys' Technical School, he attended Birmingham College of Art and Design graduating as a Technical Illustrator. As such he worked in the railway industry at Metro-Cammell Ltd at their Washwood Heath, Birmingham headquarters. This was a time when the company were still involved in locomotive and rolling stock design and construction."

"Snow Hill meeting County Class 4-6-0 'County of Wilts' Glides into Platform 7" Painting by Philip D. Hawkins
Much of his work is commissioned, and his process for creating works is mentioned here.

6) Howard Fogg

Often referred to as the Dean of American railroad artists, Howard Fogg came from a railroading family and his love of railroads was reflected in his art. Many of the artists that preceded him used exaggerated colors and proportions to emphasize the power and drama of a locomotive. Fogg broke with that tradition and became known for his startling detail and accuracy.

"Denver & Rio Grande Western #3707 along the Colorado River" by Howard Fogg, c/o Richard Fogg

He had an extensive library of railroad books and would research his subject matter to ensure that every detail was correct, yet his work lost none of the drama and excitement of his predecessors. Howard Fogg was employed by ALCO as an artist during the late 1940's after serving in World War II.

During his life, Fogg created many dozens of prints, many of which involved American steam scenes from the West. This particular one is actually of an Autumn scene from the southern US, specifically the Louisville & Nashville Railroad.

"Matched Pair of Land N Class J-2 Mikadosby Howard Fogg
5) Claude Monet

French Artist Claude Monet is one of the world's most famous Impressionist artists, having begun the genre during his time painting French countryside scenes as they changed over time. As such, he painted quite a few scenes of bridges, roads, railroad stations and steam engines over the course of his lifetime.

"Arrival of the Normandy Train, Gare Saint-Lazareby Claude Monet
This 1877 painting of the Saint-Lazare station in Paris is on display at the Art Institute of Chicago. During this period, he noted how steam, smoke, fog and mist all play a part in color perception of scenes, which would become a staple of his painting style throughout the course of his life.

4) Terence Cuneo

Another member of the Guild of Railway Artists, Terence Cuneo was a British artist known for painting railroad, military equipment, and horses, among other things. Born in 1907, the horrors that Britain (and the whole of Europe) endured during World War II surely impacted his work. During the war, he was stationed with the Royal Engineers, but also completed some of his artworks during this time.

"On the Water Column" by Terence Cuneo
His realist style translated well to painting railway scenes once the war was over, with many of his works being commissioned by British Railways for ads.

"An Engine Is Wheeled" - Terence Cuneo
 Perhaps the highlight of his career, however, was that he was the official artist for the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.

3) Vadim Voitekhovitch

Vadim Voitekhovitch is a name you might not have heard of if you're more into traditional railroad art. However, he's one of my personal favorite artists given how much steam engines are incorporated into his steampunk style.

"Expressby Vadim Voitekhovitch
Steampunk doesn't exactly have a singular definition, but in essence, it incorporates stylistic design from the 19th and early 20th centuries into Science Fiction technologies. This aesthetic can create some truly wild designs for steam engines.

"The Road to Babylonby Vadim Voitekhovitch
While Votiv's designs for steam engines are more grounded in reality than some steampunk artists, his backgrounds, full of airships, robots, and other strange objects truly subvert the more realistic renditions that most railway artists strive for.

2) Malcolm Root
Yet another disciple of the Guild of Railway Artists (I love British Steam, what can I say?), Malcolm Root left school at 16 to train as an apprentice artist. By 1981, it would become his full-time job.

"North British Railway J37" by Malcolm Root
His clean, almost photo-realistic depictions of steam engines evoke exactly what these machines meant to the average person. According to his website, his work has been featured calendars, greetings cards, collectors’ plates and jigsaw puzzles.

1) Andy Romano

I first noticed Andy Romano's work on Facebook groups, and was mesmerized by what his art style. I was able to ask him a few questions about his inspiration and how he came to be a railroad artist. According to him, he saw a copy of a Lionel Trains catalog early in his life, and was forever mesmerized by railroads from then on.

"C&NW Chicago & North Western ALCo DL109 action scene" by Andy Romano
Later, a friend of his from the model railroad world exchanged some 35mm slides, and his collection grew into the thousands. This library would be the catalyst for much of his artwork, and ensured accuracy in his scenes. My favorites of his are obviously the ones inspired by railroads and places close to my home, but his work encompasses the entire country.

"CSS&SB Chicago, South Shore & South Bend Boxcab Electrics street-running, rainy day scene" by Andy Romano
After his career, he began creating railroad scenes full time. His work is still ongoing and frequently goes on sale on eBay. (Clicking on links may earn this site a commission.)

I hope you enjoyed today's blog, and given just how many railway artists are out there, it's something I might do again in the future. Thanks for reading, and let me know if you have any favorite artists not mentioned here!

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