This marvelous depression-era toy train needed to be memorialized in a portrait - it says so much about where America was as a nation at the time. As a contrast, compare the toy in Riding the Rails with that in Star Chaser - 20 years later, children pretended to shoot for the stars instead of conducting a train.
I purposely kept the palette for Riding the Rails limited, using only five different tubes of paint in the entire painting. This restricted colorway gives the image a harmonious feel since all the colours used are mixed from the same tubes.
When choosing the colours, I selected ones that would confer a vintage feel appropriate to the scene. I also do the reverse: When I depict toys with plastic components, I adjust my palette to reflect the bright hues of the modern substance, as in Coffee Monster, an image that features a 1980s toy.
Riding the Rails features a Keystone Ride-on-Train from the 30s-40s. A child could sit on the seat, push with his feet, steer, and ring the bell! The vintage lantern has an offset handle that allows it to swing as a traffic warning. The Casey Jones engineer’s hat completes the scene, though I only showed a portion of the hat so that the stripes would not distract from the rest of the painting.
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