Some of you will be aware that I proposed to reorganize my 'set menu' style pricing at the end of March this year; this is because the complexity and nature of the work that I am being asked to consider has greatly overtaken the simple 'set menu' pricing structure I earlier relied upon, and I was finding it difficult to match the earlier pricing method against the broader scope of requests; therefore, to create a more efficient and accurate response to enquiries I have brought the reorganization forward. My quotes/proposals now reflect more fully the time I spend upon models, and allow me to tailor the quote to the individual needs of the client. Many clients now send detailed lists of the work they wish undertaken, and this has proved a successful method of communication and way forward, allowing me to fully evaluate the time/materials for each stage of the work; but rest assured that, as in the past, so too now, quality takes precedence over time.
We are now well into the New Year and work has taken over again; I've just completed a major project for a client, and with clients waiting to send stock my order book is forming a typically British queue among the pages; with one major project completed everything moves up the ladder so to speak, shortly new client stock will be arriving, and the spray booth and weathering turntable will be exercised anew with interesting projects to complete. I would like to thank my existing clients for their continued support and custom, and say thank you also to those new clients who will soon be having their commissions realized in the studio. Thank you to you all for giving my 2018 a healthy start.
It is now apparent that my hearing difficulty - 19% loss in speech range in both ears - has undergone further loss during the past few months and, despite having a hearing aid available, this does not seem to fully offset the loss in the way that it once did, and I am reliant more and more upon a combination of partial hearing and lip reading: the lip reading probably accounts for my greatest take up of what people are saying; however, this does not help when the mobile phone is involved, and for this reason I ask that an email be the first form of contact when making enquiries, as this greatly assists me given my hearing problems.
Up until now I have made little of my condition with regard to hearing difficulties, but feel that amplification (no pun intended) of the situation is now needed, and thus I have decided to make mention of this on my contact page.
Ordinarily when working in the studio I spend vast amounts of time alone, or with my studio cat who communicates in ways that render words unneeded, so work wise it isn't a problem.
Unfortunately simply turning up the volume does not help, and often makes the sound more difficult to interpret, whereas clarity is what the hearing aid normally provides. The speech range loss also makes female voices more difficult to understand, as my wife will probably be only too willing to corroborate; however, I do find that selective deafness can be quite useful in a marriage....
So please don't be put off contacting me, all my clients quite happily communicate by email, and many happy and conversational relationships have been built up over time, with the addition that photographs of locos, rolling stock, wagons, buildings etc., can all be easily sent for comment and discussion. The added benefit is that an email can be sent at any time of the day or night, and be picked up for response equally at a time that suits the receiver and replied to usually quite quickly; this conversational writing seems to work very well for all involved, and many railway related - and some non-railway related subjects - have been enjoyably explored.
The October edition is available from 29th September - FREE from participating model shops.
See page 18 if you're new to airbrushing, or about to start using an airbrush for the first time.
I'll say no more - any questions please ask. Part 2 of the feature article appeared in the November RMM.
I was working in my studio yesterday evening, listening to Sean Rafferty's 'In Tune' Radio 3 program as I do nearly every weekday, and enjoying the program whilst working upon a client's unfitted box van; suddenly my brush stopped, halted as Sean Rafferty announced on air the death of Eva Stewart, Principal Piccolo player with the National Orchestra of Wales. I was shocked and saddened in equal measure, my work stopped.
Eva I had met one evening some years ago in an art gallery, I had some work on display and was attending the evening opening night in Cardiff. We got talking amid the social throng and her immediate warmth and generosity of spirit was apparent, she asked me of my work and I discovered that she was the Principal Piccolo player with the National Orchestra of Wales. It was not long before we had developed an idea called Art & Music, and to further develop the idea I was invited to her home near Victoria Park in Cardiff. I remember how beautifully calm and peaceful was the interior of her home, the peace filled your soul, it was like stepping into another dimension, and I remarked upon it to her. That peace was something she cultivated and nurtured, there was by choice no television to intrude.
Eva helped me greatly with my work, I was working on a series of musician portraits at that time, and in need of technical information regarding some instruments, kindly Eva arranged for me to meet other musicians, and I had particular help with the anatomy of a violin for one painting, help for which I shall be always grateful. Eva took me backstage at the BBC Hoddinot Hall at Wales Millennium Centre, and into the BBC offices where I met the staff who administrate the proceedings.
Our plans for Art & Music for young people did not get past those who would be our masters, falling onto the stony ground of political correctness at the time, as the BBC struggled with making everything accessible to everybody so it seemed, even those who could neither draw nor paint; rather like saying places in the orchestra should be available to those who could not play an instrument. Faced with impossible questions about 'Access' one could not see how progress could be made, and neither could I or Eva. The project lapsed.
I had not seen Eva for a very long time, an understatement, as we pursued our own paths in successive years; yet I have never forgotten her infectious humour and laughter, her pure generosity of spirit, her warmth, her sense of fun, and her sheer talent with the Piccolo; talking of which, Eva declared to me her favourite piece of music was Ravel: Daphnis and Chloe, which she loved to perform; sadly we shall never hear her play live again, but Daphnis and Chloe will forever remain special to me.
One afternoon before rehearsal she placed her piccolo, safely inside its wooden box, on her seat in the orchestra; I looked down at the box resting upon her chair and asked:
'Why did you choose the piccolo?'
'It was the easiest instrument to carry around,' she laughed.
God rest your soul, Eva. I have shed tears writing this, may you be in Heaven.
A friend of mine whom is disabled had a constant problem with other people, including members of the public, parking in his disabled parking spot, which has extra wide space either side of the vehicle to enable him room to get in and out of the vehicle. The parking bay is marked out with yellow lines. Talking about the problem with him, on another day when he had arrived to find another vehicle in his disabled parking bay, I suggested some appropriate signage may help the situation, to which he agreed.
My research led me to Signomatic where I was able to design on their website, using their design tools, an appropriate disabled parking sign, with a blue background, stating in white lettering reserved parking in his name, and featuring the standard accepted wheelchair user symbol under the text. I designed in screw holes to allow fixing to the wall. I ordered the sign, which was made out of robust plastic signage material, and it duly arrived; a couple of friendly maintenance staff undertook to fix the sign to the wall so that you saw it immediately you drove into the bay. That was some time ago now, the sign is still there, and has endured a few winters outdoors without any frost or weather damage; it just needs a wipe over now and then to keep it clean. The result is more respect for his parking bay, with the bay being left vacant even when the car park is busy; it has not completely solved the problem because human beings who have respect only for their own selfish needs are always with us; but it has greatly improved the situation.
My introduction to Signomatic has proved useful, for instance when I needed a bright new house sign that would stand out beside the road, particularly for the benefit of courier drivers. Signomatic provide a wide range of different signs for both indoor and outdoor use, including banner type productions; personal clip on name badges, domestic and industrial signage for buildings, vinyl lettering for glass doors, all of which you can design for yourself using their easy to use website build tools, and you can see the cost displayed as you construct your sign. Delivery is pretty quick too to your door.
For model railway groups, or domestic or business use in mind, and in need of signage that you can design to your own needs, order and pay for online, then Signomatic is worth exploring, see their website at: www.signomatic.co.uk/
A word on this subject may prove useful. As an artist I pay due regard to the importance of maintaining correct colour values; and this affects the choice of lighting used for the layout.
The old fashion household light bulbs used to cast a warm shift, so if you mixed paint using one of these light bulbs to illuminate your working area the colour mix would appear right to your eye but was in fact artificially warm; so you then paint your model with this paint mix, and the next day when you view the model in natural daylight the colour appears considerably cooler than you wanted; the warm shift from the light bulb has misled you. Bit of a shock to see your colour mixing has been all wrong!
Artists solve this problem by using what used to be called 'Daylight Bulbs' which replicate natural daylight, and so colour mixing in the studio at night, using a daylight bulb to provide illumination, means that the painted surface has the same appearance next day when viewed in natural daylight: no nasty shocks there.
Those old fashioned light bulbs are long gone from retail sales, and that includes old fashioned daylight bulbs too - although some may still survive here and there in cupboards - in their place are modern equivalents that can be a bit expensive to buy: a search on a well-known website may provide some competitive prices. The modern equivalent does the same job of replicating natural daylight, and thus any colour mixed using one of these new 'daylight' type bulbs to illuminate the process will also appear colour correct the next day in natural daylight.
It therefore follows that the model railway, being a world in miniature, should also be illuminated with natural daylight or a form of illumination that replicates natural daylight; that way your painted and weathered models will appear with a colour temperature that matches the intention of the artist. What is the point of creating correct colour temperatures in the studio, if they are subsequently displayed wrong on the layout due to unsympathetic lighting.
Both film and digital cameras can also give a colour bias one way or the other, complicated still further by reproducing those colour images in books, magazines, newsprint, or on your computer monitor or television screen; and even observation at the lineside can be affected by intervening light between you and the subject, and any reflected light from nearby - want your skin to turn green: hold a green apple near your skin and see what I mean, everything reflects everything else, and probably explains why there have been so many heated exchanges over the decades in the model press over what LMS red really looked like, or GWR locomotive green; everybody had a view and everybody thought they were right - it's quite possible they were all right at different times and under different climatic conditions; it's also impossible to know whether another human being sees colour in exactly the same way that you do: you will never know.
On our layouts, however, we can control the lighting by ensuring it replicates natural daylight: a very good starting point.
Working as I do, using mainly brushes, I am extremely conscious that my timescales for completion of models is probably a lot longer than you may find elsewhere, and short of having myself cloned like 'Dolly the Sheep' there is little that I can do about this as I do not propose to reduce my standards simply to gain turnover in the studio - although, I am sure my accountant might prefer such a speedier approach; and I might make more money for myself with a higher turnover. As it is I have worked my way through a few hundred models since starting this venture, and often finish work about 01.30 hrs., so it is rather like my early footplate days - or starting at that time for a freight job to Norwood, or Temple Mills, or just 'Spare on shed' some nights in case the Foreman suddenly needs a set of men, which is how I came to drive 829 Magpie to Swindon with a parcels on what must have been just about her last trip; first stop Reading, then Didcot, then Swindon, she drove well, plenty of power, plenty of noise, plenty of brake - didn't seem like a locomotive that deserved the scrap line. I will always regard that night as a fortunate 'spare on shed' night because 829 Magpie had two-weeks earlier been announced as withdrawn by BR on the childrens' television program 'Magpie' which had earlier adopted the locomotive and placed a 'Magpie' sticker on the side of the locomotive; on the night I drove her the 'Magpie' sticker and Magpie nameplates were missing leaving ugly marks in their place; however, there was no mistaking the 829 under the cab window. Although, subsequently, I drove many of the superbly powerful 52s (and once achieved 110 mph on the Up Main through Southall in the early hours of a morning) it was always the Warship design that appealed to me most, and still does to this day. For the record the 110 was quickly not mentioned at the time; the engine over-speed not tripping either.
I have digressed a little, so back to the subject:
So I don't mind putting the long hours in doing something I enjoy, with a sense of acheivement at the end when I receive an email from a client, who, having just opened his latest parcel, expresses his pleasure at my work. That is pretty much the reward every artist needs; fame only comes after your death, and then your prices go up on the open resale market.
I have said elesewhere on this website that patience is a vital ingredient in painting and weathering, it is art in a form of its own, and like all art it moves forward in time, creating, hopefully ever greater visual realism amid a suitably landscaped miniature world.
Now, if the new lady Doctor would lend me her Tardis to transport your models back to you before you've even sent them....
Turntable Sales means directly that, locomotives and stock sold directly off the studio turntable; you will see the item in a number of photographs showing you various aspects of the item for sale. Due to the pressure of client commissions these Turntable Sales will not feature in high numbers, so the supply will be limited to a small number of select items; and many hours will have been expended in creating the final finish with much attention given to the observation of wear and tear etc. To a certain extent each will be a limited edition, an individual portrait, and will be signed in pencil on the underside.
I do not use superlatives to describe my work, I am not given to self-praise; I am a working fine artist, that is sufficient. The brush features more in my work than the airbrush, and hand finishing is the norm on every model where the effects of climate and weathering are an integral part of the composition. I use a wide range of artist techniques and artist materials; I often spend hours researching my subject.
I have decided on this Turntable Sales method as the most direct and forthright way to sell models, you see and get the model exactly as it is in the studio upon completion; all models are wheel cleaned and tested for true running prior to dispatch.
The first model to appear on Turntable Sales is Bachmann 9F 92077.
Turntable Sales is an advertising sales term, and only the locomotive appearing in the photographs is for sale; all other items appearing in the photographs are NOT included in the sale.
The above wagon formed part of Rex Stedman's range between 1929 and 1935 as far as my studies reveal; the sides are lithographed overlays over a wooden body, the corner joints of which are beautifully dovetailed. This wagon does not have its original wheels, or buffers, and the ride height may have been increased to match early Hornby buffer heights by the addition of these slightly larger diameter wheels, albeit spoked, with deep flanges that would have matched the brass track employed on so many pre-WW2 layouts and garden railways.
I know that more pristine examples of this wagon exist, but I am more than happy with my careworn slightly scruffy example of model railway history.
So talking of history brings me nicely back to the man, Rex Stedman, and the great, if largely unsung part, he played in the development of the model railway industry; the sheer abundance of scale models we enjoy from manufacturers today is surely a legacy from men like Rex Stedman, a man of outstanding engineering ability, an eye for correctness both in his drawings and build quality; he didn't have life easy and the history of his Leeds Model Company (LMC) would have disillusioned a weaker man, but Rex was steadfast as far as I can see, and through trials and tribulations of life and being in business he saw it through to the end, and after his sad early fall to cancer there were those alive then, as there are those alive today, who will triumph the life and work of Rex Stedman.
I commend all those interested in learning more about Rex Stedman to the following book title:
The Leeds Model Company 1912 - 2012 by David Peacock, Archivist, The Leeds Stedman Trust.
This book is available via The Leeds Stedman Trust website: