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Old 06-16-2009, 07:32 PM   #201
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Old 06-17-2009, 11:18 AM   #202
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Old 06-19-2009, 09:31 PM   #203
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Old 06-20-2009, 12:08 PM   #204
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Weekend Summery.
To cut down on the posting involved, I will post only pictures during the week and a text summery on the weekends.However,I will respond as usual to any specific questions from individuals.Thanks for your patience.

This week was devoted to the boardwalk and backyard fencing.If you look at the original picture that I am using for inspiration,(the 22year old Mr.J.E. Mair's Chicago row house backyard in 1910),you will see next to the buildings facade the boardwalk that runs the full width of the backyard.I have just started the fencing which surrounds each property.The design I am using here is actually from my own backyard and I chose it because of all the lighting possibilities using the shadows through the slats in the boards.(while under construction this will also make a nice backdrop for pictures of my 1/18th scale old car collection)
I used my usual old barn siding method to weather the wood, which I will repeat here for the newcomers to this thread.I use coffee stir sticks of various sizes and doctors tongue depressors, which I trim and cut to length.Then take a mix of 75% nimbus gray-25% raw umber acrylic paint and add lots of water to the consistency of milk and brush it on.Let dry and repeat as many times as necessary to get the coverage that looks good to you.(I use Jo Sonja acrylic paint almost exclusively as it dries flat)Personally I like the wood grain to show through as it looks more realistic.When dry,take a pin and make a pattern of holes in the wood to represent nails.Twist the head of an HB graphite pencil into each hole and then and then add a final watery coat.This swells the pin holes back level with the surface .When dry,you can add a tiny drop of watery burnt sienna to each nail for a rusty look.(Later you can add burnt sienna chalk pastels to intensify the rusty look if required)Now take an old toothbrush and some very watery raw umber and flick on a very fine spray of crude.After you have finished handling the boards and the structure is built ,you can come back with your siennas,browns grays,and black chalk pastels and play with it until you are satisfied.Pastels can be used to great effect when creating shadows.Just remember to be subtle in your approach to weathering,if in doubt use less not more!
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Old 06-20-2009, 08:05 PM   #205
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Old 06-22-2009, 09:25 PM   #206
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Old 06-22-2009, 10:05 PM   #207
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That is soooo cool! You have real talent!
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Old 06-23-2009, 11:44 AM   #208
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Old 06-24-2009, 11:02 AM   #209
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Now that my 4th aircraft diorama is underway my mind has been wandering as to what will be next.I decided on a Bleriot XI for the airplane,the diorama part is still unknown,even to me!

Amati Bleriot XI
First look inside the box!
What a disappointment,this is not a museum quality model,not by my standards anyway.It is probably worth about what I paid for it ,about a quarter of what it originally went for a few years ago.I got mine as a closeout special from Model Airways.They will not be re-stocking them in the future,now I think I know why.
This gives the term "museum quality "a bad name.My idea of museum quality would be a 1/10 scale model of the real thing,period.This is not even close.
I still plan to build it using what I can of the stuff provided but it will only be a starting point.The engine ,the spoked wheels and metal fittings look OK at first glance but only time will tell.Just about everything in wood seems to be a figment of someones imagination.I haven't yet checked the overall measurements for accuracy but the building methodology is all wrong.The only way those wings would look OK is fabric covered,which I would recommend doing as an out of the box build.The fabric would as least cover up a multitude of sins.There just is no excuse for this in 1/10th scale.More on all this later.
Here is my plan.I will use only the parts that I find acceptable or that can be modified to be accurate.I will use this as a starting point like I did with all my other structural type builds.(you gotta start somewhere)
As I mentioned before I am a member of the Canadian Aviation Heritage Center which is only about ten minutes down the road from me and they have a 1:1 scale Bleriot XI now nearing completion.This aircraft will be flown in 2011 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first Canadian air show and flight over a Canadian city,Montreal.
Because it is actually to be flown the MOT has forced upon them some more modern modifications for safety sake.It will therefore be my task to find which is original and which has been modified.I want to build the original version. to be cont........
For all you military airplane fans out there,yes this was a military airplane.
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Old 06-25-2009, 12:40 PM   #210
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Old 06-26-2009, 01:58 PM   #211
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Old 06-27-2009, 09:38 AM   #212
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Weekend Summery.
This week was all about making and weathering fencing.It can be a long and repetitive process but you can make it less so by being a little creative and making each section just a little different.
The sections are made to be removable until final assembly .I build each panel as it would be done in full scale and do not use jigs.This way it allows for a build which is more like the real thing,mistakes and all.Posts are installed first ,followed by cross members and then the vertical boards.Weathering is the same method as I used for the barn siding in my other dioramas.I figure that most fences in middle class neighborhoods in those days would be left to age naturally, due to the cost of paint.
In the original picture the fencing looks to be about 4feet internally and the outer perimeter about 6 feet or higher.(My mock shows all the fencing at 4feet.)I decided to go with the picture and use the higher perimeter fencing.The only problem that I can see now would be to make the whole thing look a little walled off from the viewers perspective.If need be the height could be reduced in he future.
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Old 07-02-2009, 09:16 AM   #213
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Old 07-02-2009, 09:53 AM   #214
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Yeah,I know it is not WW1 but all by old Ford T's are in the dioramas.Anyway this gives you an idea of how easy it is to do a vignette composition.I used my own backyard as a backdrop, put in a 1/18th scale classic car along my recently built fence,used one of the hangar doors not yet installed and voila there you have it.Later of course this area will be covered in grass and other vegetation.The car could also be slightly weathered, especially around the wheel areas after a drive to the airport, or I could put in a pail and some soap indicating that it had just been washed.
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Old 07-03-2009, 08:46 PM   #215
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Old 07-03-2009, 09:15 PM   #216
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Old 07-05-2009, 10:18 AM   #217
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Weekend Summary
Still on the fencing! I have decided to rearrange things a bit.The high fencing will extend along only one side of the backyard that faces the street.The front fencing will be the same height as the fencing that separates the backyards, as it faces the lane way out back and not the public street.I felt that using the high fencing all the way around would give the diorama a walled off look which is not very welcoming for the viewer.The high wall is located at the highest elevation of all the backyards, so I think it actually adds to the stepped down look when viewing the diorama from right to left.
The exact position of the flier I am still debating.The original reference pic shows it square to the fence with the nose pointed toward the buildings facade.Because the backyards are not square to the base but at an angle,I may still be OK with this.
How to get the finished airplane out of the backyard ? Well he wouldn't be the first EAA type to tear down a fence to remove his beloved airplane.(I have heard of some who even removed basement walls)
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Old 07-08-2009, 10:44 AM   #218
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I am tired of the fencing business for now and am ready for something new.Like with most things new it can be a little intimidating at first but I feel that I have some excellent reference material to work with so I am anxious to get started.
This will be my first attempt at a building other than a barn or old hangar.It will only be the rear facade but it will be my first go at brickwork,stone etc..A modeling bud ,Andi has been most helpful to me in getting started with reference material and a building methodology using foam board and paper.You will be amazed at what can be done with paper ,I know I sure was.Well here goes.......
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Old 07-12-2009, 10:49 AM   #219
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Old 07-12-2009, 11:06 AM   #220
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More fun with vignettes
While I am working on the early stages of building the facade,I thought that I would put up a few pics of the crashed Albatros sitting in the backyard of the backyard flier diorama.(lots more on my photobucket,look for the Albatros album.)When the backyard is finished with all the landscaping in place,I will submit better pics without clothes lines , bird feeders,porch railings and sun canopies etc... Eventually I will be taking a lot of pics of my 1/18th scale old car collection using this backyard, before shipping it off to the museum.
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Old 07-13-2009, 08:26 PM   #221
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Old 07-14-2009, 03:05 PM   #222
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Old 07-16-2009, 09:00 AM   #223
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Old 07-16-2009, 04:51 PM   #224
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This thread is a year old and still alive and well. Amazing work you have here!!
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Old 07-17-2009, 10:31 AM   #225
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Old 07-17-2009, 08:14 PM   #226
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Old 07-18-2009, 09:52 AM   #227
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Old 07-18-2009, 04:47 PM   #228
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When the measurements are done it is time to start cutting in with the Xacto knife.I started with what I call the dining room window which is the largest on the back facade.
Keeping your xacto (new blade,change often) 90 degs to the surface cut into the foam board.I do this freehand and make a couple of passes until it is cut all the way through.At this stage I don't try to be too exact as the foamboard is soft and easily damaged.Put another piece of foam board behind the cutout and trace the perimeter of the window.Cut this piece out as well and line it up and glue it to the back creating a double thickness.This will allow for a secure surface for our window frame pieces and add a more realistic look to the thickness of the wall.When dry start fitting your frame pieces,do not glue for now but make a tight fit.I cut mine slightly oversize and fit and sand,fit and sand until they fit snugly .Get out a small square and adjust the foamboard until the frames fit 90deg to each other.
It is time consuming to do but I thank my lucky stars that I am only doing a plain outdoor facade and not your typical Victorian moldings that you would find on the inside.
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Old 07-19-2009, 08:17 PM   #229
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My Victorian Row House.

After a lot of research the following measurements seem to be consistent with a typical North American Victorian row house.From the lower level floor to the upper level ceiling is about 21 feet 6 inches.
The top of the piece of cardboard at the bottom of the foam board represents the top of the exterior boardwalk.There are two rows of blocks to the top of the foundation,a 2" cap strip and 2"X10" joists to the lower level floor.From floor to window sill is 30"and from floor to ceiling is 10feet.I have allowed 18" between the ceiling to the top of the upper floor level for joists,plaster ceiling, sub-floor and floor.Then another 30" to the upper window sill and again 10 feet to the ceiling.(Victorian ceilings were high)
The upper rooms are 12 feet in width to their center lines ,the actual room size would be less due to studs,walls etc...The lower levels widths are 12 feet for the dining room and about 10 for the kitchen ,the rest is the 30" wide door and storage area,the overall width is about 30 feet.Above the door is the bathroom so that the run of the plumbing is consistent with the kitchen area.
The doors and windows are tall and narrow to allow for indoor/outdoor air circulation.
The external roof line has yet to be established but it is usually a little above the upper window.
Please advise me if you guys notice anything obviously wrong with the measurements.
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Old 07-25-2009, 09:49 AM   #230
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Old 07-25-2009, 07:59 PM   #231
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Old 07-26-2009, 08:47 AM   #232
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The outside window sill is made from a piece of wood ,covered on three sides with glue and then sprinkled with very fine sand.The window frame I will paint an off-white and the bricks red or red-orange like in Victorian days.
When finished, I plan to treat the facade like a canvas and have some fun using acrylics,pastels,brush and airbrush to see what I can come up with. It will have to be subtle though not to compete with the main subject for attention.I want the viewer to first see the airplane,then the storyline and later pick out the details in the diorama.This is a large diorama and I have thought at times of cutting it back a bit, and probably would have if I hadn't built a 1/48 mock-up to keep me on track.I could really stop with just the one backyard and tell the basic story but I feel that by including the other backyards it will convey a sense of the builders priorities and enthusiasm for his airplane.His messy yard as opposed to his neighbors well kept grass and garden .I think that it will be springtime before all the flowers come out as I want to keep this aspect of the story subtle as well.
I also like the stepped down effect as if the row houses were built on the side of a hill as it helps to distract the eye from all the 90 deg angles.Also the piece will be placed at an angle to the base which will better allow me to put the airplane straight on as in the picture.
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Old 07-27-2009, 09:05 PM   #233
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Old 07-27-2009, 09:12 PM   #234
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I love this pic!( I know only a modeler could get excited about bricks) Anyway,it gives you a great palette of brick colors to work with and the wall itself is so very interesting.
I can see an artist getting lost forever in this detail , being able to practice every technique in the book.It will surely be a case of knowing when to stop.By comparison modern brick walls are so very boring.
I don't yet have any idea of how to achieve that rough cement grout work look but I am working on it.I think my challenge will be to restrain myself and not to make my wall too old looking.
I love the way Andi builds a history into his brick walls but I wonder if that would be appropriate here.The row houses in my reference picture look fairly new in 1913 and the residents fairly well off ,judging by the way the lady with the dog is dressed and the fact that our early EAA type could even afford all the materials to build his airplane.
I can hardly wait to start the painting of this piece .It is as close to 2D picture painting that a 3D guy can get....
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Old 07-29-2009, 01:05 PM   #235
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It has occurred to me that maybe I am going down the wrong path here.I am basically trying to represent what was a fairly new building in 1913.I look around my neighborhood at the brick structures after 20-30 or even 50 years and the bricks still look almost new.Maybe it would be a mistake to radically age my brick wall or try to build too much history into it.I love Andi's wonderful work but it may not be appropriate as as an example for which was a fairly new structure in 1913.
When to stop? What to leave in and what to leave out?
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Old 07-30-2009, 12:33 PM   #236
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Old 07-30-2009, 12:49 PM   #237
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Man I wish I had a camera lens that didn't create so much distortion.Anyway,here is where I am so far.The upper right bricks above the sill are as dark as I plan to go.The lower right is a little lighter and to the left of that lighter still.I have used JoSonja acrylic gouache paint.It is their Gold Oxide straight out of the tube, mixed only with plain tap water to a consistency of 5% milk.You could thin it out to about 2% but that is not necessary here as my base color is quite dark.The key here is to not get too dark too quickly,it is better to err on the side of leaving it too light and then darken individual bricks to the shade you prefer.(like the bricks you see on the left in the pic)You want contrast between individual bricks.I have always worked from light to dark to take advantage of the transparency factor afforded by gouache acrylics.It can be a little time consuming painting individual bricks darker but it saves trying to lighten them later.
When putting on your first coat be sure to paint the white brick edges that have not been already colored with a small round brush.Don't worry about getting it on the foam board as it has a surface that does not readily absorbed the paint, which is a real advantage here.(saves you having to grout the spaces between the brick) Any space that remains too white can be dealt with by applying a second watery coat.
The reason that I do the spaces now is if your do it later the edges may turn out too dark and spoil your work.
Pick a shade of color that you like as your base coat (which will end up being the lightest value on the wall)and randomly darken the rest until you are happy.Don't go too dark right away as acrylics will darken naturally as they dry,much like house paint.In fact I will let mine dry over night and do the finishing touches the following day.
If you plan to do dry brushing now would be the time to do so,I haven't yet decided myself. I may just weather them by flicking on some crud using my toothbrush technique and then use pastels to finish.So far I am happy with the result,I think that it looks like a 20-30 year old wall.
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Old 07-31-2009, 09:36 AM   #238
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Old 07-31-2009, 10:43 AM   #239
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Default Re: How I build large scale dioramas!

The grey stone blocks where given the 5% milk treatment using JoSonja gouache acrylic.I used their Nimbus Grey mixed with a touch of Raw Umber and water.I darkened down the seams using the same mix and a small round brush.Try not to get too much on the face of the stone.
I really like this textured watercolor paper when using thin coats ,as it almost eliminates the need for dry brushing.Remember however one heavy coat and your in trouble.Not all is lost however ,as you can still dry brush the texture back if need be ,using a lighter tint of the same color.This is an example of the great versatility of acrylics.
The grey stones still need a little pastel shading and some crud along the bottom.

I would suggest to those who don't want to go to all this effort to make a brick wall ,if you think it looks good enough for your purposes especially in the smaller scales,when I am finished you could make a copy of the wall and then use photobucket to play with the colors and adjust it to any scale you want.Have fun!

Note: if you want a great tutorial on making scratchbuilt cars or aircraft in brass see my modeling bud Ken Foran's thread over on SMC.He is the best!

http://www.scalemotorcars.com
Look under Large Scale Cars in the Forum.
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Old 08-02-2009, 05:50 PM   #240
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Old 08-03-2009, 12:10 PM   #241
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Old 08-04-2009, 11:56 AM   #242
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Old 08-09-2009, 12:29 PM   #243
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Old 08-09-2009, 01:58 PM   #244
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Default Re: How I build large scale dioramas!

How easy is it to screw up? Let me count the ways.
I think our brick layer came back to work after a liquid lunch and somehow screwed up the brickwork.I only noticed the following after taking the pics.The two rows of dark colored bricks on the R/H side of the dining room window,are not level with the left.
The easiest fix would be to make the whole thing three rows instead of two.The other would be to lighten the dark bricks with acrylics but that could lead to problems.Maybe I will try something with pastels.
The window sills will be only temporarily installed for two reasons,I may in future want to lay the facade flat on its face and two they are too vulnerable to being broken off.
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Old 08-10-2009, 11:52 AM   #245
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Default Re: How I build large scale dioramas!

This will make a great backdrop for taking pics.I am planning to do a series of "Public Enemies" vignettes using 1/18th scale cars.I am afraid that the museum won't be getting this diorama for awhile.
It has taken me a month to build half a wall and am only about 1/5th of the way along.I am hoping that now that the design part is mostly finished things will speed up a bit, however there now will be the boredom factor to contend with now that most of the creative bricklaying stuff is behind me.
Someone pointed out to me that the blocks/greystones at the foundation are not placed properly.I should have known better, that you never line the vertical seams up one on top of the other, as this only creates a weakness in the foundation.A quick fix would be to re-do the foundation blocks by gluing new block faces over the old ones, which would mean the blocks would not be quite flush with the brick wall.I think that some foundations may have been like this anyway.I will take a look around and see what is out there.I could try hiding it with vegetation etc..but the problem is I know its there.
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Old 08-11-2009, 11:05 AM   #246
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Old 08-11-2009, 11:22 AM   #247
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Now that looks better!I simply glued new faces over the blocks.In fact I think that they look better now as the original blocks were too dark and uniform in color.The irregular look of the blocks along the bottom will be hidden behind the boardwalk.
Just before I finally install the facade I will get the old pastels out and create a few shadows etc..
For the next row house I will use a different colors for the brick as well as door and window trim, which will help to make the facades more interesting.I will do the same for the third row house even though only about a 1/4 of it will actually be seen.
A lot can be done later to breakup any uniformity in the backyards using small additions ,outbuildings and vegetation.
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Old 08-11-2009, 12:29 PM   #248
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Default Re: How I build large scale dioramas!

I know that some of you guys are asking yourself why does this guy keep on keeping on when he gets so little response to his work?
Is it the scale? or is the subject matter too far out of the mainstream? lack of interest? etc...
Well I know that it is none of these.How? By the number of hits I get, not only on the websites but on my photobucket and my photobucket albums.I average 150,000 hits a month on my photobucket and 1,000 album visits as well.
For some reason things really took off around last March and I still really don't know why.
The sites that I contribute to are all over the map,RR,car,airplane,figure,ship,diorama, armor and diecast.
I also understand that what the hell else can you say after making the same comments over and over(usually positive).I also know because of my workload I can't participate much on each of the individual websites but as I said in the beginning my main interest here is in promoting dioramas of all genres.Call it a labor of love I guess.
A special thanks to all those who have taken the time to express their opinions and comments to me directly, especially those offering their constructive criticism.
So now it is back to work! Cheers! John.
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Old 08-12-2009, 11:50 AM   #249
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One of the great by-products of doing art is how it makes you much more aware of your surroundings.I mean what is more mundane than a brick wall?
Really boring stuff right? I know that I never gave it much attention before actually building one.Now I find myself looking at the colors,the designs while driving down the road ,watching TV etc..Not only that but many old brick walls have a history if you look closely enough.Additions and subtractions made over the years.The builder never really being able to match the weathered color of the old brick.Windows and doors walled up which makes you wonder why?Additions of extra stories to a building,weathering,old signs for now non-existent products etc..etc.. There is a lot of our history tied up in brick walls for those who care to read it.
A lot of what we do as artists/craftsmen is "paying attention" to what has always been there.Most of us never really look at a flower until we come to paint it or an airplane until we come to build it or even a human face until we draw or carve it.
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Old 08-17-2009, 11:28 AM   #250
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