Here's where things stand for that first squadron of horse grenadiers this early Saturday afternoon. All harnesses, reins, straps, etc. are finished. Metalics are next!
A few enforced days away from the painting table here. The Grand Duchess and Young Master returned from their visit to the maternal grandparents very late Monday evening this last week, which, as is so often the case, threw a monkey wrench into my painting plans. And we just have the one child. I don't know how men in larger families find any time at all for themselves. It is certainly a challenge for yours truly.
It's odd how society has shifted since I was a child in the 1970s and a teenager in the 8os. Our mother and father played with us, took us places, and did things with us when we were small. Maternal grandparents too for that matter. Reading to us, running around outside with a ball, bicycling, tobogganing in the snow, museums of one kind or another, zoos, amusement parks, botanical gardens and so on when were were younger, as well as the obligatory mama-taxi stuff once my sister and I were older and became involved in school-related activities (chorus, plays, sports) or music lessons.
As far as shuttling kids around to various and sundry activities, teenagers did not, as a matter of course, get their own cars handed to them on attaining their driver's license in those days, or even get their licenses right away on turning 16. You borrowed the family car. Imagine that! You asked meekly and respectfully for the keys for a few hours (because most families still had one car, or at most two) and maybe Mom or Dad might hand them over with a warning to be careful. Do parents even issue warnings and follow through with punishment anymore when stupid, or just plain bad choices, are made by offspring? But I digress.
We were also all great talkers in my family and spent a lot of time around the kitchen table, on the front porch, or in the shady side yard, visiting throughout each day. Moreover, our parents and grandparents always spoke to my sister and me like we were adults rather than in that annoying, slightly-too-loud Kindergarten teacher tone that so many adults adopt when talking to anyone below the age of 18 or so. Listen carefully when next you find yourself in a mixed group that includes children, adolescents, or teenagers. You'll recognize that particular tone as soon as you hear it.
The sort of thing I'm talking about resembles how someone might have spoken, at one time in the dim past, to the village idiot who, in addition, knows no English whatsoever and is hard of hearing too. You know the drill. "And what's your name little boy? Finnegan? And what did you do in school today, Finnegan? How do you like school Madison? What's your favorite subject, Connor? Lunch? Oh, that's nice. Do you have a boyfriend yet, Addison? No? Maybe you should try the Tinder app? Now, boys and girls, let's all put down our iPhones for just a moment and actually look at the person speaking to us. Oh, that's nice. Very good everyone."
Getting back to the subject at hand, for all of the interaction I describe above, my parents and maternal grandparents were not overly involved in every minute aspect of our lives and, significantly, they had their own interests, activities, and lives that they enjoyed pretty frequently during the evenings and weekends. My sister and I were not the absolute epicenter of everything in other words. For instance, my mother always had a canvas set up on an easel in a sunny spot on the ground floor of the house where she worked on her oil paintings, and my father could always be found either reading (a novel or non-fiction of some sort), tying flies, building his ships in bottles, or out fishing. The point is, they had time during the daylight hours that was theirs.
In 2018, children, and indeed family life in general, seem to suck up every single minute of the day. It is relentless and even head-spinning at times. How and when did this happen? This constant whirlwind of activity cannot be mentally healthy for anyone, parents or children, in the longer term.
At any rate, here I am, and I have asked that I not be disturbed today and tomorrow, excepting meal, bath, evening father-son reading, and/or bedtimes, so that I might work some more on these 16 cavalry figures. That's really 32 figures if you think about it. Yikes!
A few evenings ago, I reread a how-to article on painting cavalry in the 2013 or '14 Wargamer's Annual [the 2016 issue actually] , by Kevin Calder I think, that might be helpful in how I tackle the second squadron of this composite horse grenadier regiment. He suggests painting the horses with their tack first, while one's drive and enthusiasm are high, and then the riders. Kevin points out that this method is psychologically effective when it comes to painting AND finishing a unit rather than submitting to boredom and diving headfirst, and haphazardly, into one of several other projects before the first one has been completed. Makes good sense to me. Too many irons in the painting fire at once lead nowhere except to frustration in my view.
Parenthetically, this 'painting butterfly' way of doing things was one of my biggest problems in the 1980s and early 1990s when I was in the midst of that failed 15mm corps-level Waterloo Era project. Ultimately, that venture petered out -- never to see the light of day -- when I returned to school in the mid-90s and time for much else besides work and my studies simply evaporated. Live and learn as they say.
When I returned to the hobby in late 2005-early 2006, I promised myself to stick to a single period and just one painting or modelling project at a time, so that things would actually get done. It has been hard at times, given the number of hobby butterflies out there, but I have managed to stay the course. Some might call me Johnny One-Note, but available hobby time, or rather the lack of it, has been a deciding factor in how I go about painting and adding to my small collection. More games and additional wargaming periods would be nice, but there we are.
Returning to the painting of cavalry figures, for some inexplicable reason, I've always started on the riders first. Why? It certainly makes painting all of the horse tack, manes, tails, and etc. a real chore by the time I get to those items. Kevin Calder is certainly not the first figure painter to recommend approaching cavalry in the way he suggests (horses first), so I don't know what my problem has been. I suppose if you crash headfirst into that figurative brick wall enough times during many years of figure painting that, eventually, you figure out it might be better to move two feet to the right or left where you may then walk more easily through the doorway. Again, live and learn as they say.