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Step 9 All Touched Up and No Place to Go. . .

The initial 36 Minden Austrian dragoons, painted more or less as three squadrons of the Batthyanyi Regiment, receive their squadron guidons.  Six horse grenadiers and three regimental staff wait in the queue to join them eventually.
You could almost hear a pin drop the last few weeks here at The Grand Duchy of Stollen.  As is very likely the case for many right now, there has simply been too much additional stuff going on even though many of us are still effectively at home all of the time.  Not much time for toy soldiering sadly.  Teaching online takes more time than you might think, and it just is not the same thing.  Sigh.  Working from home was fun for a couple of months last spring, but I really miss my usual routine five days a week of journeying into campus, teaching face to face, meeting face to face with colleagues, and the like.  Not to mention my usual early morning coffee at the cafe in one corner of our main library before anyone else was around.  Extreme Zoom and MS Teams…
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Step 8.0 The Guidons. . .

Definitely not perfect, and nowhere near as artistically done as some by others, these three squadron guidons should nevertheless do nicely.  There is some medium brown highlighting on the Habsburg eagles, but it is not showing up in the photograph.  I prefer to paint my own flags because I feel they match my painting style better than commercially produced items.  So long as they look kind of like what they purport to be from three-six feet away, I'm happy.Well, painting time has been scarce the last week or ten days for all of the usual reasons now that we are a few weeks into the fall semester and school online for The Young Master.  But I have managed to finish the three squadron guidons above.  Although they don't stand up to close inspection, and certainly would never win any awards, they should look pretty good at arm's length once fixed to the bearers' right hands and stirrups.  I went ahead and gave 'em two coats of acrylic gloss this afternoon to help pro…

Step 7.5 Final Details and Bases. . .

Another Kodak Moment.  Almost finished after a few more details and guidons.
Lately, I feel like I have fallen from the edge of the earth given the frightfully busy summer (brought on by the global pandemic and the push to redevelop once face-to-face courses for online delivery) without the usual few months to recharge, my mother's death a few weeks back, the start of the fall semester, and school online for The Young Master, who would much rather be in normal face-to-face classes with his teachers and classmates.  Difficult does not begin to describe it, but then everyone is in similar straights right now, and some much worse, so I really should not complain.When free time has permitted itself, I have continued plugging away at those 36 Minden Austrian dragoons.  Two evenings ago I bit the bullet and got to work on the yellow and black shoulder wings for the three drummers.  According to Kronoskaf, drummers for the Batthyanyi Dragoons either wore uniforms like the enlisted men an…

Step 7.0 Yet MORE Detailing. . .

A not unpleasant sight. . .  A loooong line of toy cavalry.  And a lengthy slog, yes, given the events of the summer, but we're getting there steadily, slowly, but surely.  You can see the final nine figures and horses lurking in the background.
Still here, still ambling along, still muddling through. . .  And still adding details to the 36 Minden Austrian dragoons, who seem to come more alive with each new bit painted.  Today, I finished the white lace on most of the saddle cloths, highlighted the dark green saddle cloths for the officers of the three squadrons, and added tiny dabs of bright gold to bring out the trigger guards of the muskets carried by 27 of the 36 figures.  Yes, I know.  I know.  In addition, I took the opportunity as I worked through the unit to touch up some of the dark blue and mid-blue, cleaning up the lines where different colors, or tones of the same color meet in the process.  By my reckoning, the following areas remain in need of painterly attention: 1) …

A Disaster Narrowly Averted. . .

Not white paint, but you get the idea.
Yesterday (Monday. . . Labor Day here in the U.S.) afternoon, I finally managed to clear the figurative decks enough to sit down to the painting table for some more work on those 36 Minden Austrian dragoons that have occupied so much of my sparse free time the last few months.  Almost immediately, the small, plastic bottle of Citadel 'Skull White' slipped from my fingers as I opened the cap after shaking vigorously, and a healthy dollop of paint seemed to leap from it, spilling across my table in the direction of the lined up dragoons.  Mercifully, the painting gods smiled on me.  I made my saving throw, and the paint stopped a mere centimeter or two -- it was terribly close -- from getting all over two or three of the mostly painted figures sitting there awaiting fine detail work.  After filling the air with quietly hissed blue language and mopping up the blasted paint, careful examination indicated that, indeed, no figures were in sudden…

Sittangbad: How Many Ways?

I've played this scenario twice, once in 2012 via email, when rambunctious kittens brought the game to a premature close, and again via email in late 2015.
Earlier this morning, while enjoying toast with lemon curd and a mug of fresh strong coffee, I engaged in that favorite of wargamers' pastimes: daydreaming.  Taking a cue from the late Stu Asquith's idea of favorite tabletop scenarios, I lighted on the following theoretical question.  How many different ways might we play the fabled Battle of Sittangbad, as presented in Charge!  Or How to Play War Games (1967)?
Brigadier Peter Young and Colonel James Lawford based their tabletop encounter, I believe, on an actual battle between British and Japanese forces in Burma (???) during the Second World War.  The battle waged in the pages of their delightful book was set squarely in the mid-18th century, which devotees will know already.It strikes me that The Battle of Sittangbad scenario might lend itself well to other …

A Quiet, Calm Sunday Here at Stollen Central. . .

One of my many memories about my mother is her oil painting.  When I was four-five years old, I'd frequently sit on the floor near her easel while she worked, chatting about the day and taking in the decidedly pleasant aroma of the paints, linseed oil, and so forth.  Probably part of the reason why I enjoy using oils on my horses and figures now and again. Thank you for the kind words everyone has sent about my mother.  Ol' Mom slipped away fairly quickly last week once my sister took her to the hospital last Tuesday evening although she was aware enough during the latter part of the week to converse with doctors and give definite answers to difficult questions.  She was transferred to a hospice in Pinehurst, North Carolina yesterday afternoon, just five minutes from her house there.  She died a short time later just after my sister arrived with a few of Mom's things from home.  None of this has been unexpected since Mom shared her diagnosis in July given the various cancer…

Vivian Surratt Stokes-Williams (January 27, 1945-August 29, 2020)

Step 6.6 Toy Soldiering On. . .

The current 36 figures getting various silver details added., including a further nine men and horses, slated to join the regiment late in September.
Inspired by yesterday's lively online meeting of the Virtual Wargaming Club, I stole down here to Zum Stollenkeller for two sessions yesterday afternoon and again for about an hour in the evening.  A nice brown highlight for the visible parts of musket stocks and picket stakes carried by the enlisted dragoon troopers followed by all but six of their swords in the evening.  Plans for today include applying silver to the final six swords before moving onto the stirrups and the sword hilts in and around the right hands of 27 figures.  If that goes well, we'll see where the painting muse takes me next.At the far left, you'll observe the pending horse grenadiers, colonel, and regimental trumpeter (an errant Frenchman pressed into Austrian service).  These nine figures will have to wait until their brethren have been finished and gl…

Step 6.5 Glittery Buttons Done!

Other than the drums and shoulder wings for the drummers, the most tedious bits of the 36 Minden Austrian dragoons are finished.  Everything else should be relatively straightforward.  He says.  I tackled the buttons on the rear of the coats and turnbacks first before focusing on the more numerous buttons on the front of the 36 coats.  Another one of my psychological painting tricks.  Next up, something relatively easy, like sword blades or mid-brown highlights along the dark brown musket stocks and picket stakes.-- Stokes

Step 6.4 The Devil Is in the Details. . .

The entire regiment formed up for inspection.
Sparkly buttons and braid too really bring the figures to life.  Gotta hold off on the coffee though.

And a view of several figures turned to show their aiguillettes.
The last couple of days, as and when time has permitted, as usual, I have taken a somewhat unorthodox approach and started to paint in numerous small details (stirrup leathers, shoulder aiguillettes in scarlet and gold, white highlights to gloves, and some metallic buttons, of which there are many on these 36 figures).  You sometimes have to roll in whatever direction the fickle painting muse sends you, and lately, it is the myriad of small details on these figures that have captured my attention.  Far easier to wrap everything up by returning to the few fairly large areas in need of highlights once other small items have been seen to.  By the way, for most of the detail work I've been using Winsor & Newton 'Cotman' #1 round -- my preferred brand for several year…

Step 6.3 White and Dark Gray Highlights. . .

The cavalry in question.  Coming together rather nicely now I think. Scrambling now, trying to paint some everyday, usually two or three sessions time permitting, since the end of summer is looming ever closer along the self-imposed deadline to get these blasted online courses ready to go for the September 2nd start of the semester.  Whew!  Just some short Prezi introductory videos to make now and then embed into the course pages.
Things are starting to come together with the figure painting very quickly now though, and much visible progress has been made in just the last few days.  Mostly white highlights to the shoulder belts and some tiny straps on the right sides of most dragoons to which their muskets and picket pole are attached.  Still must highlight the valise straps, but the basic light gray is done.  Like the scarlet highlights, white and sparing dark gray highlights are also steps that seem to bring the figures to life.  I sound like Dr. Frankenstein!
The really time consumin…

Step 6.2 Scarlet Highlights Completed. . .

The 36 Minden Austrian dragoons are really coming together now and quickly too.Fewer colors are more fun to apply to figures than a nice shade of bright red or scarlet!  It really makes 'em come alive.  Incidentally, red is my favorite color.  Let's skip what that might suggest about me psychologically speaking though and talk about this particular step in a bit more detail. 
Yesterday, during a couple of breaks from the computer and finalizing online courses for the fall, I sat down and applied dots, dabs, and dashes of Citadel Evil Sun Scarlet to the previously defined cuffs, turnbacks, and facings.  All managed quickly and this time without any mistakes to fix.  The painting gods were smiling on me I guess.  I went for subtlety, uncharacteristically,  and made sure to leave some of the darker red showing, already applied to these areas some days ago, to suggest shadow/shading.  I must come clean here and admit to observing carefully over the years how other painters and war…

Step 6.1 Blue Highlight Completed. . .

Avoidance combined with slow internet speed at the moment are wonderful things indeed!
At last, the dragoons are beginning to resemble the various illustrations in my books and online that I've consulted.  As I always caution, there is still some little distance to travel before we can call everything done, but it's nice how the blue highlight makes 'em pop a bit.  At the risk of putting the cart before the horse, they should look pretty good galloping at an exposed enemy flank on the tabletop.-- Stokes

Step 6. 0 The Highlights. . .

The 36 figures and horses in question.  Look carefully, and you'll see that I've already applied highlights to the hair and scarlet to the cuffs in the front rank.  Still lots to do, but they're coming along reasonably well. Yes, I'm still kicking, but this has been the summer from, well, if not exactly Hell, then certainly a less than stellar summer by all accounts.   Besides everything affecting all of us around the world where the bug is concerned, the ongoing disruption that has introduced for all of us, the continuing and related political dog and pony show here in the U.S., work-related stuff, and concerns for ol' Mom, one of the cats took seriously ill this last week.  Extremely dehydrated for some reason, losing clumps of fur, and so forth.   When it rains, it pours as the saying goes.
A visit to the veterinarian and several days later, and Mr. Onyx seems to be on the mend, eating, drinking, gaining back the lost weight, and bothering his sister once more.  He…

Step 5.75 Dark Red Undercoat. . .

Slowly coming together here with the dark red undercoat applied and, where necessary, final dark blue touch-ups to cover any slops and clean up edges adjacent to other colors. . .  Or those areas earmarked for adjacent colors.


Just a quick painting update this morning since domestic duties and concerns call, but most undercoats are just about finished on the 36 Minden Austrian dragoons that have occupied so much of the late spring and summer.  The dark red areas, slated to receive scarlet highlights shortly, have been applied -- as and when time has allowed -- to coat tails, cuffs, and turnbacks.  So too have he black stocks been painted carefully at the bases of the figures' necks.  As if by some miracle, I managed to do that without getting any on the chins or faces! 

After that, a dark brown to those areas earmarked for hair/wigs on the figures, light gray for crossbelts, and tan for the gauntlets.  Then the highlighting can start, otherwise known as 'Step 6.' 

I typical…

Step 5.5 Black & Brown Undercoats. . .

Still quite a way to go, but we're getting there.  Dark red -- Citadel Khorne Red -- to the  facings and turnbacks next, followed by light gray to the shoulder belts.  Then, it will be time for sparing highlights.


As and when time has permitted this week, I've applied black and dark brown onto those areas destined eventually for a dab, dash, or blob of dark gray and medium brown highlights.  I've also looked carefully over the dark blue areas to make sure the white basecoat has been completely covered, remedying any situations where I've somehow not managed that given the extra time and care taken to avoid lousing up the already painted horses.  These areas will get a very sparing medium blue highlight when the time comes.

As noted last year (?) in an older blog post, or perhaps in an article somewhere, I find that you paint, paint, and paint for what can seem like ages with little apparent visible progress.  But suddenly, almost as if by magic, everything begins coming …

Step 5.25 Fleshtone. . .

Still a long way to Tipperary, but the addition of fleshtone to the faces makes 'em come alive just a bit more, eh?

A difficult day here at Stollen Central, but an hour or so in the painting chair early during the afternoon kept my mind off things for a little while. 

Ol' Mom decided this morning to share the results of a scan she had last week, and the results are not good if you'll excuse my oversharing.  Basically, cancer throughout her body, and from what she related, it sounds we are looking at palliative care sooner rather than later.  She does not want to go through radiation and/or chemo therapy given the extent of her illness at this point. 

A life-long smoker, Mom had a small stroke about a year and a half ago and came back after almost 20 years in Mexico to her house in North Carolina to see specialists in Raleigh-Durham.  She has been actually pretty good since then, but she, my sister, and I visited her attorney in March of last year, where she drew up a living…

5.1 Dark Blue Undercoat Finished. . .

Here are the initial 36 dragoons and horses, the former with their dark blue undercoat all done.

Here and there, I've managed to tackle two-five dragoons at a time whenever I can't stand staring at documents taking shape on the computer screen any longer and need 30 minutes or so to let the ol' mind go blank for a bit.  Even managed to apply all of this dark blue without any major brush mishaps.  A new #4 round was broken out for this step, and it made things so much easier though repetitive.  Very repetitive. 

Henry Hyde (or maybe it was the enigmatic Michael Button?) once mentioned something about the zen of painting large units many years ago in Battlegames, and I try to channel the spirit any time I sit down to for another one of these BIG regiments.  Actually, if one thinks of it as just three squadrons, it doesn't really seem that off the rails. 

At any rate, the color used for the undercoat is one of my two remaining bottomless bottles of Ral Partha color purchas…

5.1 A Dark Blue Undercoat Underway. . .

A rather Citizen Kane angle, but it shows off the regiment nicely, I think.  Six horse grenadiers are on the way from Minden, but I'll tackle them as well as the officer and trumpeter at left in September once the initial 36 are finished.

Snatching a few minutes here and there as and when spare time presents itself.  As planned, I finished basecoating the last twelve figures yesterday evening before turning in, and I have begun applying the very dark blue undercoat today, three after breakfast before starting work for the day, and another four a little while ago after lunch before returning to work and the world of real life.  It ain't all it's cracked up to be, is it?
-- Stokes

Step 5.0 Basecoating Dragoons. . .

About two thirds of the way through base-coating the dragoons themselves and awaiting the addition of six horse grenadiers in bearskin bonnets.

All work and no play makes Stokes and even duller boy.  So, I've played hooky for a couple of hours this morning after breakfast by applying a coat of the usual white acrylic gesso very carefully with a worn out #4 round brush. 

Thus far, no mishaps with the brush to spoil the horses.  Hopefully, I'll be able to return this evening to complete applying the white gesso to the last dozen dragoons before fleshtone and a very dark blue undercoat to just about everything tomorrow. 

But time now to get back to some real work before The Young Master has his online Tae Kwon Do leadership class later this afternoon here in Zum Stollenkeller

-- Stokes

Sunday Quality Cavalry Time. . .

The 36 Minden horses have been peeled from their temporary cardboard painting bases, and I'm now carefully checking the fit of everything on the permanent Litko 3mm ply bases which measure 60mm across, by 50mm deep.

A little quiet time to myself this afternoon here in Zum Stollenkeller.  And what better way to spend it than by sitting down to the painting table for some more work on those 36 Minden Austrian dragoons?  Since the horses are all done, it seemed like a good idea to fix them to their permanent bases, which was accomplished in fairly short order. 

I'll leave painting the green onto them until the riders are all finished and everything has been glossed.  Previous experience demonstrates that even with careful handling of the green permanent bases, considerable touching up is necessary post-glossing.  So, I've decided this time to leave that -- painting the wooden ply bases with Citadel Warboss Green to match the bases of the horses that is -- until the very last s…

And Now the Dragoons Themselves. . .

Yes, we've been here before.  But I am especially fond of this painting by David Morier (1705?-1770), which shows a grenadier of the Batthyani Dragoon Regiment with a few different details from those given elsewhere online.  I might give my own officers red breeches and saddle cloths.  You know.  Just to keep things interesting.

Well, things have been a little quiet here at Stollen Centrale the last few weeks.  Nothing virus-related, thank goodness, merely the usual intrusion of real life into normally free summer daytime and evening hours.  Lots of professional development this year in the form of two online courses all about. . .  Wait for it. . .  teaching courses online.  I am also going up for promotion in the fall, so there has been lots of time consuming activity gathering all of the materials into a portfolio and writing a teaching narrative, which has proven surprisingly difficult.  All of which is to say that there aren't enough hours in the day for the fun stuff.
But,…

Battle for the North Gate with Phil Harding - Lockdown Lectures