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Don't look now. . .

Don't look now, but guess who finally got off his painting you-know-what yesterday evening?  Yes!  And I managed to apply a white basecoat of acrylic artists' gesso to the first five wagons, carts, and associated beasts of burden.  So, it seems like the latest painting funk might -- just might -- be losing its grip on me.  If all goes well today, I'll begin slapping paint onto at least some of these this evening.

Now, one of you asked the other day how I plan to paint the teams and wagons/carts since they are already glued to their permanent bases.  Well, here goes. 

1) I went ahead and glued everything to its permanent bases simply to have something to hold onto during painting.  I've become used to doing this with all of the officer and civilian vignettes painted during the last 18 months or so.

2) Last night, I used as large a brush as possible to apply my white acrylic gesso basecoat.  

3) Runny washes of the gesso were applied to help reach those tight spots beneath the carts and wagons and on the insides of the various spoked wheels.  The nether regions on the bottom sides of the models will then simply get a coat of either black or very dark brown since we won't really see them when everything is finished.  I'll probably do this step first. 

4) The visible parts of the carts/wagons will next be washed with my usual thinned acrylic browns or brown oils thinned with Liquin Original.  Either treatment will help the paint to spread into those harder to reach areas and more pigment to settle in recessed areas, taking care of highlighting and shading in one fell swoop.  I'm assuming (dangerous, I know) that this will work since it has worked many times in the past with various infantry, cavalry, and artillery figures and/or horses.

5) Those carts/wagons that will be left a natural wood color will then be dry-brushed with a lighter gray once the brown is dry, to better approximate aged, ramshackle carts and wagons that ave been appropriated for military service.  The various metal parts (wheel rims, the ends of axles, etc.) will be picked out with back once everything else is dry.  The mobile field forge and the powder wagons will be painted to resemble actual Prussian vehicles, so dark blue of one kind or another will be used here instead of brown dry-brushed with gray.

6) Pairs of horse and single oxen/mules will be treated similarly in various browns and grays.  There is enough space between the two horses in each pair to paint the various straps and harnesses without too much difficulty using a #2 round brush with a decent point.

7) As has become usual with my painting during the last few years, I'm shooting more for creating a neatly painted impression of military wagons, carts, and teams rather than hyper- detailed museum display pieces.  As much as I would like to approximate tiny bits and pieces, these models do have to stand up to the rigors of occasional handling, storage, and, perhaps one day, transport.  

8) It would also take me far too many months to finish everything were I to attempt painting every single small detail that we might notice on actual life-sized wagons or carts.  So, you'll understand why I decided against  adding traces and certain other harness details with tiny wire in the grand manner of Peter Gilder's and Doug Mason's Napoleonic limbers and teams as featured in so many old issues of Miniature Wargames and early issues of Wargames Illustrated.  The thought did occur to me, but I decided against it in the end.

9) I am hoping that this broad brush (hee-hee) approach will help speed up considerably the painting and varnishing of these 16 assorted wagons, carts, a mobile field forge, horse teams, two oxen, a single mule, and the various riders/drivers.  That's the plan at any rate.  Look for photos in a few days time once I have a couple of early transport and supply train items finished.

There we are.  That's the planned methodology, to use a fifty cent word.  We'll see how things pan out in practice.  One thing that I mentioned "a coupla three" months ago (an old expression of my maternal grandfather's), even with everything lined up neatly on one end of the painting table, the models of these 25-30mm wagons and their transport animals occupy quite a bit of space.  That offers quite a bit of insight into the sheer size of the logistical tail of any army in the field.  Right up to the present day I would imagine.  

Under normal circumstances, I have read, the fighting end of an army in the field is relatively small compared to the various supporting units behind the lines.  The REMFs (look it up) to borrow from, I believe, fairly current U.S. military jargon.  As wargamers, we tend to paint and game with only the actual fighting units and ignore the rest due to time and tabletop space considerations.  

But the footprint of animal-drawn support units must have been considerable before motorized and air transport became the norm anytime an army went on campaign.  Fascinating stuff to ponder and a real "aha moment" when I realized it as the various bits and pieces of my planned transport and pontoon train have arrived during the winter and spring, have been assembled, and lined up to await painting.

-- Stokes


Fitz-Badger said…
Thanks for the info, and good luck with the painting! Sounds like a good plan. Best wishes at the pointy end of the brush. :)
Unknown said…
Dear Stokes,

Great to read that the painting 'funk' is possibly over.

You are right about the logistical tail of an army being large, particularly as in the time of Stollen wives, children and other civilian types would have swelled its ranks. In the British Army they are known as PONTIs...People Of No Tactical Importance...not fair, I know, but what the hell!

Best regards,

Pierre le Poilu said…
I've just started to paint a couple of wagons, so probably I will pinch a couple of your ideas.

My Dear Heinz-Ulrich,

Considering how long the following tail of wagons and carts stretches whenever my beloved sister goes anywhere, your comment about the grand size of the logistical tail of an army is spot on.
I am reminded of how long the wagon train was which the Confederates had put together after Gettysburg. That wagon train went on for over twenty miles and was but one of several.
Enjoy the peace and tranquility. It is well deserved after two semesters of scholarly work.
Yours in academic fellowship,
Gerardus Magnus
Archbishop Emeritus

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