The Station Inn

J. Craig Thorpe

August 23-25: Artist Workshop Weekend

A three-day artists’ workshop with noted railroad painter and illustrator J. Craig Thorpe will be held at the Station Inn railfan bed & breakfast venue in Cresson, Pa., from August 23 to 25.

As the artist-in-residence for the weekend, Thorpe will bring to the event a career’s worth of experience painting for Amtrak, General Electric, museums, tourist railroads, and private commissions. Among his recent Pennsylvania-based paintings are scenes showing Reading & Northern Railroad’s 4-8-4 steam engine No. 2102, East Broad Top Railroad’s narrow-gauge  2-8-2 locomotive No. 16, and the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum’s PCC Car No. 1713 wearing its 1970s-era Pittsburgh Steelers professional football team paint scheme.

Open to artists of all levels, the event is designed to blend working experiences with insightful discussions.

Thorpe will guide artists through exercises and demonstrations, coaching them to experiment with and refine their skills at interpreting the railroad scene by honing technical skills. Participants will visit nearby attractions such as the Railroaders Memorial Museum in Altoona and the Everett Railroad in Hollidaysburg to select indoor or outdoor subjects. These outings are designed to capitalize on the region’s rich cultural and industrial heritage.

Accommodations at the Station Inn range from private rooms to dorm-style quarters. Individual private-room packages start at $600, dorm-style quarters at $450. Local artists who commute from their homes can register for $275. Packages include workshop fees, all admission fees, Friday dinner, Saturday and Sunday breakfast, and Sunday lunch.

Thorpe, who grew up in the South Hills of Pittsburgh, graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a degree in industrial design. His interest in railroading stems from formative days spent with his grandfather riding trolleys and Baltimore & Ohio Railroad commuter trains, as well as from his association with the East Broad Top Railroad as a promoter, artist, and informal docent.

His 206-page book “Railroads, Art and American Life,” published by Indiana University Press last year, is an autobiographical review of his approach to painting “the past, the present and the possible.” During the weekend, he will discuss those themes and encourage artists to develop their own style.

“Artists should bring materials that they are comfortable using – pastels, colored pencils, ink, graphite, watercolor, oils, it’s up to them,” said Thorpe. While he will be discussing his work and his approach to painting, he said, “I want to use the drawing times to help students do sketches – walk around, comment on, and help people in their actual production of drawings or a refined painting.” In doing so, he will offer guidance on aspects of composition, form, and lighting.

Discussion sessions will center on “where the guests are in their own development of railroad art, what are their points of focus, and what do they want to do that they don’t know how to do,” he said.

Living in the Seattle area, Thorpe and his wife Cathy are the parents of three adult children and the grandparents of two grandchildren.

The Station Inn, a railfan bed & breakfast founded by Tom Davis in 1993, is located at 827 Front St., Cresson, Pa., with its front porch facing the former Pennsylvania Railroad, now Norfolk Southern, main line. Owners Alex and Leah Lang purchased the Inn in 2022 and started an artist-in-residence program in 2023. Group meetings during the artists’ weekend will be held in the Inn’s Yard Office Lounge event space.

For further information or to register, View Workshop Details & Pricing on our Events Page

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