In the late 1990’s my dad began working on a series of paintings of restored locomotives from a side-profile view.
These paintings differ significantly from earlier work, particularly The Barry Collection, as rather than interpreting the subject matter from an artist’s point of view, often enhancing particular colours for dramatic effect, the series of locomotives in profile are painted to represent the subject as accurately as possible in incredible detail on large canvases ranging from 5 to 12 feet wide!
My dad was fascinated not only with the beauty and power of steam locomotives but also their engineering and mechanics. Over many years he amassed a large collection of books, technical literature and even engineering drawings of the locomotives he painted. Using these resources, along with a huge catalogue of reference photographs, he would create paintings that are not only beautiful but technically extremely accurate. I often used to joke that if someone pointed out that a single rivet was in the wrong place he would have been mortified!
The daddy of the Locomotives in Profile series is undoubtedly the Union Pacific ‘Big Boy’. This is the only locomotive my dad painted, to my knowledge, that isn’t a UK engine. He had a particular fascination for the Big Boy – sadly I never asked him why. I can only assume that he was in awe of the sheer size and power of the locomotive. He often visited an artist friend in California and on one of these trips he went to Pomona, California to visit 4104 and take reference photographs for his painting. At over 11 feet wide, the painting is the second biggest in the collection. So big that in order to photograph it for this book I had to shoot it in 3 sections and merge them together in Photoshop!
As a graphic designer, the paintings of Locomotives in Profile series are amongst my favourites in my dad’s collection due to their precision and illustrative quality.
If you know the specific locomotive number, enter it below.
My dad first started drawing and painting his steam artwork at Tanfield Railway, the world's oldest railway, located only a mile from our family home. The work from Tanfield depicts the day to day life of the railway in the sheds and sidings, rather than focusing on particular locomotives.
Woodham Brothers scrapyard in Barry, the legendary "graveyard of steam", gave birth to the preservation movement in the UK. My dad visited Barry on many occasions, gathering reference material and sketches for The Barry Collection of over 100 paintings and drawings.
Although not a major part of his collection, my dad did occasionally produce paintings of locomotives in their day-to-day working environment. He often used photographs he had taken during trainspotting trips in the 1950's and 60's, re-imagining the black and white images into full colour paintings.