Saturday, 21 February 2015

Thoughtful?...or just psycho-babble...

I always connect to other blogs by clicking on Iain Robinson's blog and going down his side panel. Some of the blogs are short "review" types, some are updates on current layouts, but some, it seems to me, are intended to convince the reader that the author has some special insights or attitudes to modelmaking.  They ask complicated questions, ostensibly of themselves, but in fact of everybody, about readers' attitudes to their own work.  Now there are only 2 main types of model enthusiasts really.  Those who squeeze a bit of work in on a layout or model when they can and those who do it for a living.  The latter (with the noble exception of Iain's own writings) are few and far between. Naturally, the bulk of blogs are from the former category, but there are just a couple of a third category who do all the navel gazing, theoretical stuff,  Significantly, there is rarely much actual modelmaking done by this sub group.  They seem to spend so long asking all those largely unnecessary questions, that the bench is somewhere almost alien to them.

I make models because I can and because it beats working for some pratt in a leather chair who thinks he's better than I am.  I can just make ends meet by doing so.  I used to earn very well from it, because the going rate was worth doing it for.  Now, there is less work for my particular sections of what I used to do, but the over-riding fact was that I did it because it was the least worst option in employment.  I never gave the art/craft dichotomy a moment's thought, except to tell people on forums not to keep going on about every half decent bit of model making being a "work of art", when it was merely a competent piece of craftsmanship.  Maybe because all the men in my family were craftsmen, I am more than happy to be a craftsman myself.  Most so called art I see these days is so mind-bogglingly appalling that I would want only to distance myself from it.
There is a certain element of artfulness to some work, where one must make decisions on what to leave out, but that's it.  There might be a little artistry in depicting a scene cleverly, but it's craftsmanship that gets you there.

So why all the psycho babbling philosophising?  I assume it makes the authors of it feel somehow a cut above the rest of us.  But the proof, gentleman, of the pudding, is in the eating.  Show us something you've done yourself from absolute scratch and we'll see just how far all your day-dreaming has got you towards the aim of something beyond playing with trains.
So far, the best modelmaking, by far, is NOT in railway modelling, but in model cars, model ships, flying and static model aircraft and especially, model engineering.  In which, there is no bullshit about art.  Just good, honest craftsmanship by men (and sometimes the occasional woman) who are either self taught or properly shown the way, apprentice-style, by masters.
Let's leave all the art crap to the fakers and kite flyers who profess to be artists....Con artists, most of them.   Piss artists, the rest.  And as for the dreamers and question masters.  Complete wastes of space who are neither to any useful degree.


  1. Martin
    My good yeoman, me thinks you speak forsooth. (that is proper English by the way) Yet another piece from your quill that gives one pause. Splendid indeed!

    The question remains however, what exactly is a blog, a web page, a forum or whatever?
    What was that thing that I had back in the days of cuneiform typing computers and clay tablet like laptops? I couldn't sell anything, all I could do was offer direction to lost souls in search of information. I got by with a little help from my friends until I learned the futility of it all. I also got radiation burns from the old CRT tube but that's for another day

    A blog succeeds or fails on it's ability to make us think or at the very least entertain. This can be done in ever so many ways.
    A webpage has to sell/give us something , be it an idea or a product or something that we need or want.
    A forum is a place where freedom of speech goes to die and the ideas of others are stifled. unless they align with the forum moderator's own way of peeing into the void.

    I guess you would call a web site/page a place to go for specific information. A blog a place where one person expresses their own opinions and a forum a failed attempt to exchange information about damn near anything. As the philosopher Dylan once said "The times they are a changing" So is that art or is it craftsmanship that they are failing us in?

    But I would at least like to see one or more places that actually show you how they did something. They are out there, but damn! you have to really dig to find them.

    Today we see people aimlessly walking about typing on their telephones while talking to their computers. I suspect that in the future ( if this keeps up) that babies shall be born with enormous cerebellums and all powerful yet numbingly agile thumbs all in the name of the big i.
    That's going to make it rather hard for them to build anything that way isn't it, or has it already happened?
    You do the math on that and I'll keep reading your blog and occasionally even toss a poorly written cow patty in your direction.

    Now there my old and dear friend, is an example of pure psychobabble if ever. (or was it?)

  2. As ever Rich, you old sooth sayer, you, you find the nub and tickle it nicely.
    And never forget, it was your idea that I get a blog going. Back then, I'd little idea what they even were, but you know my history with forums. And without your model boat wizards, we'd never have made each other's acquaintance. What a loss that would have been for both of us. Maybe I should put some how-tos on here as I do stuff. I have a couple of different jobs on currently. Better get the old camera out, eh? Thanks, as always.

  3. Thank you Martin, for the mention...I am very glad that you enjoy scrolling through that sidebar on my blog. It's a wonderful world of stuff out there, isn't it! I find a great deal of inspiration in many of the blogs- the best ones are rather daunting, too, because there's people pushing the boundaries and making me move out of my comfort zone. I know what you mean about folk "talking" a good model railway. At least there's not too much "wishlisting" unlike the forums :-) I only tend to get annoyed slightly when I detect a preaching tone now and then...our hobby is not the place for that. I get annoyed, and then I look at the news, or the government and my sense of proportion is restored.
    I like your observations vis a vis craftsmanship and art. I do buy (intellectually) into abstract art or "modern art...because I get a real kick from it. Sometimes it does feel there's more than a hint of the emperor's new clothes, but I guess it reflects a state of mind. In modelmaking terms, I think true craftsmanship (like your model cars, for instance, or just for argument's sake, Beeson's locomotives)) has a truth and a symmetry about it. It's a stable, tight thing that you are aware of the more you examine it. I don't think I would use the term work of art for many models...except perhaps for something like the Craig and Mertonford, where the whole thing was an invention that lived in the mind of it's creator, an installation if you like. It had taken on a life of it's own. I would probably lump EL Moore in with that, too. For me at least, a work of art has to have a life of it's own, real or imagined, and it has to awaken something in the viewer, something of a larger, wider thought process. Sorry for the ramble...just my thoughts, scrambled and incoherent as always, but thank you for stimulating the old grey cells again!

  4. Iain, I know you're a fan of the more modern art, but at least your examples can be seen as a genuine way of suggesting something and even I liked some of them. My objection is to the really piss-taking things that I'm sure we're all aware of from recent years from certain unjustifiably rich fashionable types.
    However, I take your point about the C&M and maybe the Madder Valley, etc. (Both ancient, interestingly). They are a created world, like Emmett's railway for the big exhibition in the 50s. But I think whilst the artistic idea was there, they still needed craftsmanship to be done as well and as inspirationally as they were. I think the most artistic thing I've seen in years that required no craftsmanship at all yet was both pleasing and interesting was where someone had the arty idea of filling the inside of a small Edwardian house with concrete before the actual building was demolished, leaving a shape that was merely the NON building...the void, so to speak. But a filthy bed or a pickled cow? No, not a chance. Turner was both an artist and a craftsman and so were so many other greats. Maybe the next debate is between greats and those famous con-artists who got as as rich as Croesus for doing almost nothing.

    1. Yes, I know the artist you mean, Rachel Whiteread...who filled the insides of buildings with concrete. I loved those pieces. You are vindicated though, because I remember reading that it took a great deal of skill to get the concrete just right, and the mix had to be perfect or it would all crack.. So craftsmanship was needed ! :-) The abuse of animals in the name of art or anything else disgusts me and I think Damien Hurst is a vile person. There, not like me to sit on the fence, is it? Yes, I forgot Emett, of course, and the Madder Valley, agreed.

  5. Martin,

    A blog can be the last bastion of free speech rather than the forums, this means that they can be an opportunity for blather rather than progress but at least there is no 'big brother' looking over the shoulder.

    Possibly a reason why I don't 'do' forums or join 'mutual appreciation' groups but I admire those who are prepared to show the progress of their work therefore I like blogs.


  6. It is certainly a freer means of communication, Tim.
    Blog or forum, I would still have a problem with "preachers", though, so I no longer click on those blogs. I'm bored with all the soul searching tosh that ensures they do so little actual work.

  7. I knew you'd know the name of the house artist, Iain! Thanks. People call my paintings art, but I just regard them as 2D modelmaking.

  8. Knowing that I appear in the side bar on Iain's blog makes me slightly nervous about leaving a comment, but here goes....

    My approach to blogging is to start by giving people something to read. Now this might be a post on the local railway history or a preserved line or some actual modelling. Basically a take home message of some form. I agree a post where you read to the end and think "so what was that about?" seems like a waste of everyone’s time. It's one of the reasons that my posts tend to clump together. I'll have a rash of posts as something is coming together on the workbench and then long gaps because if I've done nothing then I've nothing to say.

  9. Your comments are always welcome, Mark. I tend to share your attitude to blogging.
    Sometimes I have nothing to say, sometimes a lot has happened and is possibly blog-worthy. I just wish my camera would work in normal interior light as I tend to finish for the day and want to record it in the evening, which is when I write my blog.