Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Memory of days gone by

Thank you for all your support and congratulations.

I promised you all that today I would tell you about my new painting. It's a subject that is again very close to our hearts and because of this is such a joy to bring to life. 

A couple months ago while I was looking for photo’s of my Nan I also found a few old photo’s of James’s Grandpa. One in particular caught my eye. 

 The background is very distracting and the lighting not great but I was drawn to the photo because  Grandpa had such focus and concentration not only in his face but his hands, upper body and shoulders too. It is almost as if to him, at that moment in time, the rest of the world did not exist.

 I asked James to write a little about his grandfather for you all: 

“Some of the happiest memories from my childhood are of times spent with my Grandpa. He was a model engineer, and his workshop was a treasure trove of tools, materials and finished models. The Allchin (a type of traction engine) in this photo was the result of many years of work, exquisite in every detail, even down to a set of scale size tools and miniature oil can. The greatest thrill was to take it outside, tend the fire (using pea sized chips of anthracite), and have it pull me around the garden. The smell of steam-oil and coal is unforgettable. On a hill the exhaust would take on a sharp bark, pulling sparks from the fire and shooting them high in the air, mixed with great clouds of smoke and steam. Could there be anything more exciting for a young lad with a love of science and engineering?”

What a wonderful memory of a wonderfully talented man.

For my outline I decided to crop right in on Grandpa and his miniature traction engine. I must admit it took me three days to draw the engine. Mind you, it took him over 6 years to build it so maybe three days for me wasn’t so bad.

In my painting I wanted to create a much less cluttered background than the ref photo using light and shade to help to accentuate the centre of interest while also helping to convey the mood. It’s the start of the day and Grandpa is oiling the engine before lighting the fire. Care and attention is needed so that everything is in good working order when the coal is lit in the engine’s tiny furnace.

I'm having huge trouble at the moment getting a decent photo of this painting. The background is as dark but much softer in real life. Hopefully as I get more detail  and variation in colour and values in the camera will do a better job.



  1. That is an amazing background. I'm really looking forward to seeing this painting develop.


  2. Your work continues to thrill and amaze! Thanks for sharing.