I’m naturally drawn to close up viewpoints and as a child; the areas near the tracks by my house offered a haven of interesting stuff to explore. I could be preoccupied for hours with the gritty rust on the sides of the rails, along with the rough bleached texture of the rotten ties. I took for granted that cinders could be fertile soil for wild grasses and weeds.

After a heavy rain, a huge mud puddle always formed in a low spot next to the siding and it became an ocean in my imagination thanks to a piece of scrap wood or twig that floated.

Across the landscape we ignore millions of nondescript patches of ground that are as mundane as mundane gets. Though humble, they offer much potential to an observant eye.

On the surface there may not be any obvious attraction, but for those willing to suspend judgment and look, there is a wealth of pattern, texture and color to learn from. One can go deep with what is there.

You can go deep in observing what’s on the ground at your feet. You can go deep in noticing how the seeds of life will sprout from the tiniest crack or the way concrete spalls to reveal the aggregate underneath. You can look closely with soft eyes because the color of said concrete is often a master class in subtlety.

Emerson said that the question of beauty gets us away from the surfaces to thinking about the core foundation of things. The more I consider this idea, the more I see the truth in it. What we choose to see is often more interesting than how we model it. While a majority of modelers mainly focus on the big stuff, the greater realism we seek may found waiting quietly for us along the edges and spaces in between.



  1. Greg Amer

    There is definitely a lot out there to model. I think the trick is figuring out how to represent enough of it without getting stuck on the weeds.

  2. mike

    Hi Greg,

    Everyone will be drawn to something different in the landscape.


  3. Dan Placzek

    Nice perspective. I get so caught up with laying track, building structures, etc., it’s good to be reminded to focus on the stuff that adds to the depth of our modeling.