In my normal thread I mentioned that John Armstrong had made an O'scale model of Edward Hopper's Masterpiece, "Nighthawks", the original of which resides in the Art Institute of Chicago. Hopper is one of my favorite American painters and of his works, I, like millions of others think Nighthawks is terrific. Brian Scaice got the model from John's estate and has it on his O'scale layout. If John Armstrong can build one, why can't I?
I was first going to convert a DPM corner store resin kit into the cafe, but after examining what I'd have to destroy to get it there, it seemed better to scratch-build it. Since I was planning on building a Victorian era city tavern from plans in a 1950s Model Railroader magazine, it seemed natural to install the Night Hawk's Cafe in that building. The front window of the building Hopper painted is a corner also and has a curved glass window wrapping around the corner. Since the building I was going to model has a round turret protruding from the corner, it would blend nicely with the curved corner of the cafe.
I downloaded a copy of the painting and then messed with perspective so it was straight sided. To re-acquaint folks, here's the original painting.
The image is American Impressionism, and therefore, is not photographically correct. At first I thought the building was at 90º, but after reading more about the composition, Hopper situated the building on a sharper corner so the glass around the corner would be entirely behind the three main characters. I have a acute angle corner in my city, but it's located towards the rear and the building would be facing the wrong way making it impossible for people to get a good look at the work. I'll take liberties and make it square. Since we'll dealing in three dimensions, not two, my viewers will be able to change their viewing angle and see the entire scene. The only red in the painting is the women's blouse and her lipstick color. The building was brightly lit with flourescents and I have one that I can use. It's also going to be my first attempt to hand carve O'scale figures. The picture I downloaded has such high resolution that it will be a good guide for the sculpture.
Many Hopper fans have tried to find the business in Greenwich Village that may have been the subject for the painting with little luck. Hopper may have used a composite of places he knew, but noted that he enlarged the restaurant to make it bigger and brighter. In O'scale I'm not going to distort it to match the painting. It would seem out of place.
I'm also planning on a row of stores across the street like the ones depicted in the painting. One of the interesting things is how the light from the diner lights those buildings.
I already have the coffee urns ordered from Westport Model Works.
Here's the plans drawn in O'scale.
Hopper's painting also had no entrance. That may have been symbolic, "the folks were trapped in a life of sitting late at night having a cup of coffee on a deserted street" or something like that. Or he maybe didn't care if it had a door. I'm taking poetic license and having the entrance being the door on the front of the building (door's on the right of the image). I'm also going to have pass through from the kitchen to serve people more than just coffee.
I woke this morning thinking how I'm going to make the curved front window. I'm going to try and use the heat gun to selectively soften Evergreen clear styrene sheet and let gravity make a gradual bend. It will probably take some attempts to get it right. I may also try acetate if the styrene doesn't work. I already got the graphics, again taking it from the original and changing perspective so it isn't foreshortened.
Here is John Armstrong's rendition:
I would be pleased if mine comes out as good. The flourescent lights from Miller Engineering will help make it match the Hopper image. When John built his version, those lights did not exist. In the 1940s, they were the new thing too.
Like all the other scratch-build projects this one goes in the job jar. Until the trains are running (very soon now) and the Victorian Station is finished (Pretty soon now), then I select the next one. I may work on two at once just to make it fun... I have six on the drawing board and three other kits to build. Should keep me busy for a long time to come.