First off - I knew I wanted to do a BIG painting but what should be the subject? It had to contain lots of characters (some which I've taken from previous paintings) and it must have depth both in terms of physical space and of narrative. My aim with the BIG painting was to develop the world in which my characters inhabited and also to spawn knew ideas for forthcoming paintings.
Gradually the idea to tackle a railway station scene, with lots of action on the platform and a great big steam engine in the background, came to me. A major influence on my choice was 'The Railway Station' by William Powell Frith which featured on the front cover of a British History book I had seen at school (I think). Frith's characters are lined up as if waiting for a school assembly photograph to be taken and the steam engine is in the far distance so when I started to thumbnail ideas I deliberately started with the engine first to bring it forward and then introduce random sqiuggles for characters afterwards in the hope the train and it's travellers would have equal importance.
|Somewhere in these childlike scrawls is a reasoned composition waiting to be realised|
|First rough (take two)|
You might recognise the station as St Pancras in London. I visited a friend in the big smoke as part of my 'reference gathering trip'. I've got some good shots of old pubs too, ahem. I also visited Didcot Railway Centre which was a gold mine of not just trains but old luggage, station furniture, signs and trolleys.
|I don't know how Bugs Bunny appeared in this sketch (far right - don't judge me).|
This post is long enough already so I'll go through some important characters in my next post and for now I will leave you with the image of the animals on tracing paper and the station brought together (like ebony and ivory) in Photoshop.
|Together in perfect harmony.|