Nathan Bennett, whose dad was a train buff, grew up in Utah a couple of blocks from a train track. “When we kids heard the train coming, we would bike or run fast to see it,” recalls Bennett. “Once we got to the tracks, we would throw rocks at the train or pennies on the track.”
Trains are the subject of Bennett’s latest patina paintings, which are featured in his solo show “Of Metal and Fire: New Patina Paintings” at Blue Rain Gallery. The show opens on June 9 and runs through June 24.
As much as Bennett likes trains, he hasn’t focused his work on them until recently. He made his first train painting, a silhouette of a train, for his dad in 2009 at a time when his father was ill. “He told me he thought I should do more of them,” Bennett adds, “so I have.”
Steam trains are portrayed in Bennett’s paintings, which are created through a special process that’s a carefully-guarded secret. Basically, Bennett uses silicon bronze plate and applies iron, silver, copper and other chemical compounds suspended in water to achieve the colors seen. Fire from a handheld torch is used to infuse the chemicals onto the bronze, merging the compounds with the metal.
“I’ve been really interested to see if I could pull off trains with this process,” Bennett says. “It’s been a satisfying experience.”