Beneath the Covell overpass in north Davis, behind the Little League fields, train engines – diesel switchers, I believe though I’m no ‘spotter – lie in wait. They are very colourful. Freight trains pass this way going north to Oregon, Washington, Canada, the North Pole for all I know. The Eastbound trains travel on the other track, nearby our old apartment. The first night I spent in Davis, almost seven years ago now, I was kept awake by the mile-long freight train rumbling through at one in the morning. I got used to that pretty quickly. It wasn’t that loud, but even at a distance I could feel the ground shaking a little. We have our freeways and our bike paths and watch airplanes cruise overhead, but something about the railway makes us feel connected to the wider continent at large. I may never get the time to do a big train journey across America – to paraphrase Cars, these days travel is about making good time, not having a good time (I blame the shorter vacations you get here) – so it’s quicker and easier (and occasionally cheaper) to fly. I like sketching train engines though. Maybe that makes me a trainspotter? Anorak on standby.
I had wanted to draw this train engine, moored on the railroads near the Co-Op, during the last Davis sketchcrawl but it was not there. I went back a week later and there she was. I drew an engine like this (in brown pen on cream paper) as part of my Davis Moleskine (it may have been the same engine, I’m no trainspotter) but really wanted to show its bright, patriotic colours. I sat in the shade and sketched with my uniball signo un-151 pen, which actually does take a wash pretty well, but more importantly it draws like a dream.
Drawn on Strathmore hot press paper. Including colour (added later) it took about two hours, mostly in the on-site drawing. There is the penwork below.