Saturday, December 17, 2011

BNSF Slogging

"BNSF Flooded Road"    SOLD
oil on panel, 2011
6” x 8” (15.24cm x 20.32cm)

Two of my favorite subjects, trains and rain.

A BNSF locomotive slogging through the rain near the top of the Cajon pass headed to the high desert in Southern California. Rounding the bend in a heavy rainstorm as shown by the flooded road in the foreground. An autumn scene with just a hint of orange trees showing through the fog.

The train, somewhat inconsequential within the composition and placed high in the picture plane, gives it a feeling of isolation and puts more emphasis on the landscape. But while that is true the lines of the landscape still all lead to the train.
With two thirds of the composition being foreground/middle ground this demanded the road have a strong design. The foreground and middle ground get divided by the rain water washing over the road. Each share similar angular shapes but vary enough in shape and size to keep them from becoming boring. It's really about avoiding design 'twins' and breaking up the larger mass into smaller supporting ones. That also allows for the recession of space, leading the eye through the weather to the locomotive.

For the engineer, this must be the most solitary part of their job, which is what this painting is about.
The design and the weather itself both serve as vehicles to that idea, instead of the primary subject. The smallness of the train against the larger landscape and the isolating nature of stormy weather.157

Click on images for larger view


  1. I am always happy to post the first comment on such great work.
    I love your subject matter and your painting ability!
    I also very much enjoy urban scenes and seascapes. Probably from growing up in Boston with a tremendous view of the harbor. I also love trains and I know that is because my dad used to work for the New Haven Railroad back in the day. I can definitely see the "real content" in your work David. It is full of emotion and a deep love and respect for your subject matter.
    Please excuse and old hippy expression from the sixties when I say to you from the bottom of my heart!
    "Right on!"

  2. Thanks Michael,
    I get my fascination with trains and industrial subject matter from my Dad and Grandfather who always pointed it out.
    I live here near the LA Harbor so I see plenty of industrial, urban scenes, trains, bridges, the Pacific Ocean and this painting, the mountain pass leading to and including the high desert of So Cal.

    For an artist I love that I can see (trains especially) against urban/industrial backdrops then drive 2 hours and see them against the mountain and desert backdrops too.

    This one was a result of visiting the pass (and desert) when it was raining, really hard.
    The high desert is freezing in the winter, it is miserably cold waiting for the trains to come by (this is when I ponder the subject matter of my paintings as I did here, a response to feeling a bit isolated)... then when you hear one coming...

    all misery is forgotten, you forget how cold it is. So fun!