19 June 2018

A Summer Painting & Modelling Challenge Progress Check. . .

Not a hobby photograph, or a Waterloo painting, this morning, but a summer evening photo of the old Hanseatic wharf in Bergen, Norway, a place where I once spent quite a bit of time as a (graduate) student in 1990, '98, and again in 2000.  Haven't been back to the city in 18 years, but the place is amazing on clear summer nights when the sun hovers on either side of the horizon and time seems to stand still.  Norwegians know how to make the most of their summers.

 Another wondrous summertime late-night shot of the waterfront in Bergen.  Hobby "weather" forecast the remainder of the summer?  Mostly sunny.

Just to show how things stand in my summer challenge to myself:

1)  Finish the Minden replacement infantry standard bearers. -- Done!

2) Paint the Eureka 'Ooh, You're So Awful' vignette. -- Done!

3) Paint a 30-strong unit of Wurttemburg Horse Grenadiers. -- In-Progress 

4) Construct a North German red brick church.

5) Construct a half-timbered warehouse.

Still feeling good.  The will to paint is moderate to high.  A strong front of renewed hobby enthusiasm is pushing in from the west, which should spur yours truly to sit down at the painting table this evening and plow into a squadron of those Wurttemberg horse grenadiers.  Ahhhh. . .  Hear that?  The sound of Summer and, for the moment, relatively unstructured free time.

Our summer evenings here in Mid-Michigan are not quite as spectacular as in Norway, but right now dusk lasts until almost 10pm on sunny evenings, which I'll take.  Quite happily.  The flowering perennials in the garden beds, lengthening shadows, chirp of crickets, and numerous little bats that begin swooping around just before dusk to catch insects make it relatively easy to forget, for a few minutes at least, the cares of the world.

Below are photographs of the newly finished infantry standards and standard bearers posing with small drafts of their respective regiments to provide a better idea of how everything now looks.  Enjoy!

-- Stokes 

My flags are printed out on plain white typing paper and have a slightly small square or rectangle of aluminum foil glued inside the two halves to help everything keep its shape as the glue dries.  Almost everything, except for the tiniest, most intricate detail is then painted over in hobby acrylics and given a highlight or four in the case of whites and reds.  If you carefully apply these pretty wet (but not runny), they'll blend more effectively with the preceding shade(s) of color.

My generic Hanseatic Regiment (based on period troops from Hamburg, Bremen, and Luebeck) marches beneath historic town flags from Bremen and Elbing.

 The very first unit ever painted, the 1st Musketeers, from way back in the summer of 2006.    The Minden standard bearers, while taller, stick our much less glaringly than did the original MiniFig flagbearer.  The standards are Hessian, which only makes sense given the familial ties between Stollen and the Hessian territories far to the west on the opposite side of Brandenburg-Prussia and the Saxon Duchies.

An actual historic unit for a change, Württemberg's Garde zu Fuß (Foot Guard) with historic flags.

 Stollenian Leib Grenadiers, a Christmas gift from the Grand Duchess in December 2006, again with Hessian standards, which I find more eye-catching than most contemporary Prussian infantry standards.  It must be that red and white lion.

The fourth unit painted, back in 2007, the Ermland Garde, once again with historic flags, this time from one of the Reichsarmee units whose name escapes me at the moment.

 Last of all, Flickenhoffer's Fusiliers, again with historic standards actually carried by another unit (The Blau Wurzburg?) that was part of the Reichsarmee.  You just cannot beat colorful flags!  They bring so much to a unit of model soldiers, even those with pretty basic paint jobs.

18 June 2018

A Waterloo Night Infantry Standard Update. . .

The freshly glossed standard bearers and standards that I have been nattering on about for months.  They'll join their waiting regiments tomorrow evening, and then dragoons, dragoons, dragoons!

Well, that's the second mini-project for the summer completed!  At long last, the infantry standards and ensigns are finished save for three small touch-ups, which I could probably ignore, and no one would know the difference.  But, you know how that goes.  

Most of us want our figures to be "just so" by the time we finish them at the painting desk.  Whether that comes from perfectionist tendencies, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or simply a desire to produce the best brushwork we can given available time and ability, most figure painters and gamers, I think, fall into this camp.  Otherwise, we'd play classic Avalon Hill board games with small card counters, right?  Waterloo anyone?

Smart-assed kidding aside, I seem to remember reading something by Terry Wise, Stuart Asquith, or one of the other Old Guard of the hobby, long ago in Military Modelling, that you should try to paint your figures as well as you can, developing and improving your brush skills and methods over time.  Like so much else I read as a callow youth in the early 1980s about preparing tabletop armies, that piece of wisdom has stayed with me.

In any case, these various flags are not quite as masterfully executed as recent examples by Der Alte Fritz, but he has perfected the method since I began these last winter, and I'd like to think my next batch of flags will look even better.  These will do nicely at arm's length however.

Remaining on the list of my hobby painting and modelling challenges to myself this summer are: 

1) Finish 30 RSM95 horse grendiers in bearskin bonnets (not dragoons it turns out).  
I'm trying something new in the painting here to see if I can't speed things along a little bit in the two months left before school and real life begin to interfere yet again with more pressing matters like hobby related activities.  In any case, the plan is for red-coated, Wurttemberg cavalry with black facings and turnbacks like those below:

2) Construct a red brick North German church. 
Based on an extant structure on Boizenburg, Germany, not too far from Luebeck, but on the former eastern side on the one-time internal boundary between West and East.

3) Construct a model of an existing half-timber warehouse.
A lovely old structure in Klaipeda, Lithuania (ex-Memel).

So, still much to do in the time remaining, so I won't make any overly confident predictions yet.  But I feel like I've managed to make a good start these last few weeks.  The old college try and all of that kind of stuff.

Ok, time to hit the sack.  It has been a long day.  A good day, but a long one.  The Young Master began his summer vacation last Wednesday, and keeping an active eight-year-old occupied and out of trouble takes it out of us guys on the wrong side of 50.  Whew!

-- Stokes

It's Waterloo Day!

One of my favorite paintings of the June 18, 1815 battle by Henri Phillipoteaux.

Today, I've got the strains of various French Napoleonic marches ringing in my ears.  Whatever happened to the cassette tape I had with all of those period marches on it?  

Anyway, looking forward to a bit of toy soldiering this evening after the Young Master's bedtime during which I'll apply the second coat of acrylic gloss to my various Minden replacement standard bearers.  Stay tuned for a late-night photograph or two.  And then it's back to that regiment of red-coated heavy dragoons in bearskin bonnets.  

Not The Scots Greys, sadly, but rather 30 Wurttemberg troopers and horses more fitting for the mid-18th century.  If you listen closely, however, you can almost hear the thunder of hooves off in the distance.

-- Stokes

16 June 2018

Little by Little. . .

'Portrait Painter at Work' by Franz von Persoglia.  

Ok, maybe nowhere near approaching the work of a professional artist and portrait painter like the one shown above, but the picture is kind of nice and sets the right 18th century vibe for this short post.  

I am working my way through applying clear, acrylic gloss varnish (two coats) to those dozen Minden Austrian and Prussian replacement standard bearers this afternoon.  Two are all done and drying while four others have had a first coat.  Taking a coffee break at the moment and fending off a cat apparently starved for affection while the Young Master works on a project of some sort across the room.  

Otherwise, a rainy, cool, and quiet Saturday -- the best kind -- here at Stollen Central.  Hopefull, I'll finish everything this evening and can cement the figures to the waiting command bases within their various infantry units tomorrow with some photographs to follow after that.

-- Stokes

14 June 2018

First of Four Summer Projects Almost Finished. . .

My particular treatment of the Eureka Miniatures 'Ooh, You're So Awful!' vignette.  The current English ambassador to The Grand Duchy of Stollen, the libidinous Lord Hawthorne Rumpee de Pumpee (he is of Huguenot stock), takes liberties with a handy kitchen maid while his long suffering wife, Lady Thalassa and a disapproving Stollenian bystander look on.

Things are almost finished with the first of my four proposed summer hobby projects save for two or three of the invariable touch-ups and the sparing application of a few clumps of Woodland Scenics coarse foliage here and there to enliven the circular bases.  These figures will join my rather large group of frolicking aristocrats, servants, and a painter, who bears a startling resemblance to the Italian model Fabio ("I can't believe it's not butter!").  A few of you might recall this bunch of figures from when they were painted back in 2012 or 2013.  

Of course, as luck would have it, I seem to have misplaced the blasted bag of coarse foliage since last I used it.  There are only so many places here in Zum Stollenkeller that it can be, but no luck tracking it down yet.  

In the meantime, I've been carefully applying glossy Liquitex acrylic varnish to the infantry standards painted up last winter, so that these can join their regiments before I turn my attention to those 30 RSM95 horse grenadiers in bearskin bonnets, which were started last July before my painting mojo simply dried up as the summer wore on.  Maybe I can make some headway and get them finished this year?  Keep your fingers and toes crossed!

Finally, don't look too closely, or you will spot the lone piece of cat fur that floated in from somewhere and became stuck in the tacky gloss varnish after I finished a couple of evenings ago, switched off the lights, and went upstairs to bed.  Insert very choice words here.  I'm not sure how to attempt removal without harming the paint job at this point, so I suppose it will have to remain.  Lesson learned?  Always, always, always have some kind of dust cover to place over figures in progress better to prevent such annoying developments. 

-- Stokes

03 June 2018

Hobby Time at Last!

The last two or maybe three evenings have seen me back at the painting table for the first time in several months, applying acrylic colors to the Eureka 'Ooh, You're So Awful' vignette.  Needless to say, it has been time delightfully spent.  Very relaxing and plenty of headway made along with questions from the Young Master, who played nearby and occasionally sauntered over to see what Dad was up to before returning to his own projects.  He is writing and illustrating his own rather lengthy Geronimo Stilton novel at the moment and building a Tinker Toy robot for instance, school and piano lessons permitting.

But back to the Eureka vignette.  Just tiny details now, like shoes, metal buckles, buttons, and hair ribbons.  I am especially pleased with the way the white table linen, china cups and saucers have come out.  The ol' painting hand was rather steadier than expected!  No photographs until everything is finished, but I'll include a few period illustrations and paintings found online that I have used to guide me along the way of painting up disapproving ladies and gentlemen, a handy kitchen maid, and one overfed, libidinous lord.

-- Stokes

31 May 2018

A Summer Painting and Modelling Challenge to Myself. . .

The 'Ooh, You're So Awful' vignette from Eureka Miniatures, which will go will with all of those frolicking aristocrats that I painted several years back.  My figures have had their two coats of white gesso and are already attached to a couple of circular permanent bases.  Fleshtone and a peach color for the lady's dress this evening.  More if that goes well.  Maybe the kitchen maid's more somber attire?

Tomorrow is June 1st, and I am almost done with quite a bit of gardening here, tender lower back notwithstanding.   Mostly various flowering perennials to attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds for the Young Master in the front and back yards following the construction of a wonderful screened back porch (Michigan is extremely buggy most summers thanks to low-lying, swampy areas).  

So, time once again to begin thinking in earnest about more toy soldierly things, Grand Duchess and Young Master permitting.  I still don't know how the late Donald Featherstone managed to indulge and write about his hobby to the degree he did along side a career and family life.  Any ideas?

The new back porch in question.  It replaces a peeling, rickety, and improperly constructed party deck.

Returning to the point at hand, lots of unfinished odds and ends here in Zum Stollenkeller that have languished for some time as real life has intervened rather cruelly over the last 10 months or so.  High time, then, to address each in turn as well as turn my attention to a couple of small building projects that have been on my mind for a year or so.  

Besides adding those new Minden Austrian and Prussian standard bearers (with newly painted flags) to the various existing line infantry units that have waited so patiently for so long, here are the various projects that I am challenging myself to complete before the end of August when the Fall 2018 semester commences.  It is, you will probably all agree, a battle of wits against oneself.  Anyway, here's the Summer Hobby To Do List: 

1)   Add the Minden replacement infantry standard bearers to their respective regiments.
2) Paint the Eureka 'Ooh, You're So Awful' vignette.
3) Paint a two-squadron regiment of Wurttemburg Dragoons.  
4) Construct a North German red brick church resembling the one shown in this post.
5) Construct a half-timbered warehouse like the one show in this post.

Only five small related projects to complete in just three months.  'Only.'  But can he do it?  We'll see.  My hobby track record recently has been pretty abysmal for much of the last year, so I must admit to a bit of skepticism myself.  However, I'll give it the ol' college try and see how things go.  Fell free to jeer as loudly and as often as you want to should I fail to meet my September 1st goal.

I've also got a couple of small writing projects on the go this summer, one hobby related, and one not, but these will be addressed during normal daylight hours, while the toy soldiering is largely an evening pursuit.  And there are a couple of small solo games I hope to squeeze in as well, one of which relates to one of the aforementioned writing projects.  Lots going on and much ado about nothing during the next three months then.  Watch for semi-regular, though not blow-by-blow, updates here to see how I fair.  Ready?  Set?  Go!

-- Stokes 

A two-squadron regiment of RSM95 horse grenadiers started in July 2017 that have languished since.

A couple of illustrations showing what the planned regiment will look like, more or less, once finished.  Who among us can resist cavalry in red?  Not I.

A brick church in the small town of Boizenburg, Germany that caught my eye a year ago while doing online research for the Baltic German town center that I constructed and wrote an article about for the 2018 Wargamers' Annual.  Self-promotion and all of that you know.  Yes, what an irritating so-and-so I am!

 A lovely old half-timbered warehouse in Klaipeda, Lithuania (ex-Memel) that also caught my eye during last year's building boom.  Both structures should fit in well with the existing Baltic German town center.  Who would have thought that model buildings would be so much fun to construct?

10 May 2018

Now, where were we?

A suitable image to help get me back into the proper frame of mind.  Prussian infantry colors of the Seven Years War.

Finished the last bit of the spring semester yesterday afternoon with a 90-minute presentation and talk on increasing student motivation, engagement, and success.  Whew!  I'm always mentally and physically drained after one of these sorts of things, but I find myself relaxed this morning and looking forward to getting back into my hobby after several months away.  

There is, of course, the small Christmas solo raid game to play as well as some mounting those almost finished replacement Minden infantry standard bearers with their parent units, some more cavalry painting, and maybe also a few more buildings to add during the relatively care free summer months here at Stollen Central.  

But for today, I am simply going to daydream and enjoy a rainy cool day with nothing on my plate.  Is it me?  Life just never seemed to be quite this busy for our parents way back in the 1970s and 80s.  Anyway, onwards, and upwards, eh?

-- Stokes

20 April 2018

Was that a pin dropping?

Ol' Frederick II at the battle of Kolin in 1757.

Absolutely nothing happening hobby-wise since my last post at the start of the month.  Running up to the end of the semester now with final class meetings next week, final student projects, reviewing scholarship applications, and trying to write a conference presentation in there somewhere.  Sigh.  But I did learn about a new blog, or rather a recently resumed blog (started way back in 2008) that might be of interest to those of you with a particular interesting in sculpting and/or painting your figures.  Check out Making Miniatures, which has all kinds of interesting discussion on the topic.  Ok, back to the salt mines for yours truly.

-- Stokes


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