11 December 2014

The Pontooniers Are Underway!

The current work-in-progress. . .   Two companies of ragtag Minden pontooniers.  The homemade oars should look a bit better once everything is painted and glossed.

Classes are now over for the fall term (Hurrah!).  Form here, it's just reading a bunch of papers, most of which I've seen once or twice already in draft form, from three classes as well as tallying up everything and submitting final course grades online over the next week.  Tedious, yes, but freedom from having to read or re-read course material, plan, and prepare for classes makes all of this end of semester stuff much easier to get through.  You can do grading and enter final grades online in your pajamas if you want to, right?  

Usually, with grading there are very few surprises by this point too.  The students who have been diligent and engaged all semester typically produce much better work throughout the term than those who have sat "at the back of the room," literally or figuratively speaking, so it makes things pretty easy most of the time.  Of course, there is the occasional student who comes from behind at the last minute to pull off decent work and a reasonable passing grade, but in almost 20 years of working closely with undergraduates, I've seen this happen less than a handful of times.

Which is just a long way of saying that I had a couple of free hours last night following the Young Master's bedtime and, so I retreated down here to Zum Stollenkeller for another mug of after supper coffee and to apply a second coat of white acrylic gesso to those Minden pontooniers.  These are a pleasing mix of civilian and military laborers as well as a few Austrian artillery crew wearing coats and equipment slung over their shoulders.  The four oarsmen in the foreground still need their second coat of the stuff, but I'm pleased with the evening's progress. 

I opted for this odd assortment of figures to approximate a hastily formed and ragtag mix of men that form the pontoon train of a very minor social and political backwater -- either The Grand Duchy of Stollen, or The Electorate of Zichenau -- in my semi-fictitious mid- to late 18th century Europe.  If all goes well, this evening, I'll undercoat the areas destined to be black (hats, shoes, and gaiters) with gray, and also apply my usual fleshtone alkyd oil thinned way down with Liquin Original.  And we're off!

Behind the pontooniers, by the way, you can see various new command vignettes, including the new and improved General Phillipe de Latte and his aide de camp Major Paolo di Biscotti at far left, as well as the perpetually unsettled General von Bauchschmerzen lolling about in his whicker carriage.  He is next in the painting queue after the pontooniers are finished.  

The Young Master gets a real kick out of coming into the Stollenkeller and asking questions about von Bauchschmerzen.  Since he now speaks good German thanks to the efforts of his mother, The Young Master understands the play on words about tummy aches although he insists, through snorts of laughter, that the good General's ailments will improve with time.  We know differently however, don't we?

-- Stokes

1 comment:

Si Bath said...

Ah, there's nothing like a bit of pontooning about on a river!
Best wishes,
Simon

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