Mike Cougill continues to post challenging – and dare I say it philosophical – articles on his OST blog. It is not that common to read contributions from authors who can build models, but also to think and write. Here in the UK, Iain Rice has been one person to fill that niche in the UK – you might not agree with him, but it’s always worth reading what he writes!
I’ve quoted a lot of Mike’s article – probably more than I should – below, as it’s such a good read.
We’ve been shuttling back and forth or going in endless circles since the dawn of model trains. Whether it’s a crude circle of track on the floor or a traditional layout, little has changed with this craft in spite of all the techno wizardry we now have.
What do model trains mean to you? What are you trying to express or capture?
For me, the craft represents an opportunity to pursue ideas and develop skills….
Looking around, I see a lot of mimicry. A theme is popularized and people can’t jump on the bandwagon fast enough….
We excel at imitation but fall short of expressing a truly personal viewpoint. We simply don’t know how…. we need your unique perspective…. instead of more poor imitations.
Realizing that not everyone will connect with my work greatly helped my understanding. It removed the pressure to please others and allowed me to explore subjects and techniques that I found fascinating.
This also applies to our modeling. Many enjoy the social aspects the craft affords yet don’t wish to blindly follow the crowd. If you find yourself here, it can feel awkward……
The fear of doing something wrong holds many of us back. People relentlessly seek the approval of others….
It takes courage to share something that has deep meaning. Doing so leaves us vulnerable to the misunderstanding and insensitivity of others, which can hurt. Yet, we need your courage and example. We need to know the craft has more dimensions to explore than the ones the old guard clings to for dear life.
I think this is great advice. It’s a more reasonable version of ‘Rule 1’ – it’s my railway. Of course ultimately for our models to look good we must imitate the real thing. The most realistic track layouts are based on the prototype. Bu HOW we imitate the prototype is a personal path to be followed. We can learn from others, but should try not to exactly imitate them.
Mind you, there may be exceptions. I was reading a thread about CJ Freezer’s ‘Minories’ plan and its near perfect simplicity. Imitating this may be rather different. It is firmly based on the prototype, and the individual touch may come with the implementation, rather than the concept.