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Strike While the Painting Iron Is Hot!!!

Next up, fleshtone to the faces and hands.  Usually, I have always applied this particular color first, but it seemed like a good idea to shake things up a bit this time around.

Although not really a conscious New Year's resolution, I have quietly determined that I will not let myself be distracted from hobby pursuits this year because of various work and life commitments.  Life is for living, and we should not permit the stressful and/or tedious things to impede our enjoyment of all the free time activities that we enjoy.  But I have done just that and allowed the stress and tedium to overtake everything else the last 3.5 years.  Good for neither the mind, nor the body in the long term.  Enough!  

It has begun to seem , to me at least, that I have lost my hobby bearings the last few years as a result, the residual effects of our big move back in June 2015.  High time now to get things (and myself) back on track.  While I want to avoid being too prescriptive for anyone else, to me historical miniature wargaming should be about fighting tabletop battles, historic or otherwise, with one's figures above all.

That means, or course, that one must get 'em painted first, which requires getting one's lazy you-know-what into the painting chair more often that has been the case for me since about 2014 if I am honest about it.  Things were clicking along fairly well until the spring of 2015, you might recall, when new opportunities knocked for The Grand Duchess and me, and we pulled up stakes to move in June of that year from the decidedly arid, brown, and flat environs of Central Illinois, to the more lush Mid-Michigan.  An unfortunate side effect of the move has been, however, that I have never really been able to get the painting train back on the rails in a satisfactory way due to a variety of things.  The daily onslaught of life as I have termed it.

But now is the time, children!  High time to make a more concerted effort and reclaim the hobby that has already provided so much pleasure over the years.  So far, so good for late 2018 and very early 2019, but then we are just two weeks into the new university semester (term), so let's see how things actually progress.  I know, I know.  The best laid plans and all of that.  I can hear the collective mirthful chuckles already.  But, as Phil Olley noted some years ago, in an article on hobby project management that appeared in an early issue of Battlegames, and I'm paraphrasing badly here, "He who has no target, hits nothing."

Recent weeks, then, have felt like things are back on track with the target, if I might use the same term, of having enough units painted in the next few years (Two-four?  Or three-five?) for any of the medium to largish scenarios presented in Charles S. Grant's wargaming scenario titles.  Even casual perusal of books like Programmed Wargame Scenarios, Scenarios for Wargamers, or Scenarios for All Ages (Charles S. Grant and Stuart Asquith), present numerous scenarios involving, say 6-10 infantry units per side along with  related cavalry and artillery.  

While my collection has become top heavy, over the years, with artillery crews, guns, and horse teams, not to mention command vignettes, various support elements, and even quite a few civilian figures, I am still a bit short on infantry and cavalry for all but the smallest battles.  So, the target over the next few years is to increase my infantry and cavalry arms above all.

All well and good, you might  say, but how does this relate to what I've got cooking right now?   Glad you asked.

While I wait to make sure all of the gold and silver the oil bits are good and dry to the touch before glossing all of those German curiassiers in bearskin bonnets, to say nothing of finishing the white horse markings and touching up the dandy Prince Soubise and his equally natty aide before they are glossed and get their groundwork, I have turned my attention to other things in the meantime.  

At the moment, that includes a smaller, composite unit of Minden Austrian (German) Grenadiers (above).  These have been sitting around taking up space in several plastic compartment trays with lids, since I purchased a small LOAD of unwanted Prussian and Austrian infantry castings (Minden, but of course!) from a friend in Belgium during January or February 2017.  His asking price, including postage, was simply too good to pass it up, and so I jumped, knowing full well that it might be several years before this relative windfall of figures would be painted in full.  Fair enough.  The drawer of unpainted lead became, well and truly, a veritable pile of lead.

Once the package of exquisite 1/56th scale castings arrived, the first thing I did was to purchase a bunch of those plastic compartmentalized trays with snap-top lids, and then sorted carefully through everything to see what I suddenly had on hand.  It took quite a few days truth be told.  Over and above what was already in the drawer of lead though, enough unwanted new figures arrived (infantry, officers, NCOs, musicians, and mounted officers) to create eight or nine 60-figure regiments plus several (seven or eight) smaller composite grenadier battalions (two small companies each) like the one shown above.  A painting progress chart, like the kind I developed way back when for my initial Sittangbad order of battle, is probably the wise way to go, enabling me to keep better track of where things stand when it comes to making an appreciable dent in the drawer of lead described above.

Incidentally, I more or less use the infantry organizations suggested in Young and Lawford's Charge!  Or How to Play War Games (1967) as a planning guide for the envisioned units.  That is, three-company infantry regiments (16 privates, an officer, and NCO, and a musician each) and two-company battalions (12 privates, an officer, NCO, and a musician each), plus a small regimental or battalion staff that includes a mounted officer.  Hey, when you're stuck in a rut that satisfying, why climb out of it?

 A grenadier of Hessen-Darmstadt's Leib grenadiers, ca. 1751.

 A grenadier of Kurköln's Wildenstein Infantry, ca. 1757.

The specific unit shown at the top of this post will be based on both Hessen-Darmstadt's Leib Grenadiers in white and grenadiers of the Wildenstein Infantry from Kurkoeln in blue each with red facings.  Not exact replicas, you understand, especially since the large Austrian cuffs are wrong for the Hessen-Darmstadt troops, but close enough for yours truly.  Essentially primary colors plus black, white, browns, and metallics.  Simple.  To the point.  Eye-catchingly good.  And no complex infantry standards to slow down time to completion.  What's not to like?

Thus far, I've just been blocking in the main colors using a couple of #6 round brushes.  Things have gone so quickly, that I have been motivated to keep going.  I've managed to get all of this accomplished in less than a week, really about three evenings of 60-90 minutes each plus a few additional 10-30 minute sessions.   It's amazing what even a short painting session can accomplish.  Belated thanks also to Greg Horne, of The Duchy of Alzheim blog, for sharing the large brush tip with me some years ago.  Basically, use as large a brush as possible, with a good point, for the bulk of your painting.

What also seems to speed things up appreciably are the temporary painting base strips of six-eight figures.  Imagine that!  I've always painted infantry before using single temporary bases, and it is amazing the amount of time wasted simply picking up and putting down each figure, not to mention turning it around to paint all sides of a particular figure part or item.  I don't know why it has taken me three plus decades to figure out this simple method for more efficient and rapid painting, but there we are.  

Clearly, I am nowhere near as intelligent (or quick-witted) as I once thought.  Exceedingly dim, rather slow on the uptake, possibly so called 'slow normal,' or as my late maternal grandparents might have chuckled and said, "Stokes, you're about as sharp as a mashed potato sandwich!"

Kids, don't try this at home.

-- Stokes 


Apropos my previous remarks about life being for living, we have finally had enough snow just today for cross-country (Nordic) skiing here in Mid-Michigan without the need to drive several hours north, or over nearer to the Lake Michigan coast.  Given the dropping temperatures, the snow ought to be around in our neck of the woods for a while, so the three of us are planning to head out for a skiing adventure tomorrow (Sunday) morning after breakfast for the Young Master to break in his new, longer skis that Santa Claus brought just this Christmas.  

So, for a few hours tomorrow, we'll stand in for Kirk Douglas, Richard Harris, and the fetching Ulla Jacobsson in The Heroes of Telemark.  Don't tell her, but the Grand Duchess has always reminded me of the late Ms. Jacobsson!  It must be the icy Swedish blue eyes, round face, and general stature.  Who knew that I was looking into my future when I first saw the movie as an 11-year-old?  Crazy, man.  Crazy.


For those who might be interested, this is the order in which I have applied the various colors so far:

White Basecoat
Tan and Dark Blue (Coats and/or Breeches)
Black (Hats, Bearskin Bonnets, Shoes, and Gaiters)
Mid-Brown (Fur-covered Haversacks)
Dark Brown (Musket Stocks, Pikes, Drums) 

Fleshtone (Faces and Hands)
Goblin Green x 2 coats (Figure Bases)
Dark Red (Silk Bags, Facings, and Turnbacks)
Coat, Breeches, and Wasitcoat Highlights (Royal Blue and White)

Etc., etc.


El Grego said…
It is good to see that you are getting back into the swing of things there. It has been about 3.5 years of hobby flux for me as well.
Der Alte Fritz said…
A long time ago one of my friends told me that he targets painting one hour everyday and that overnthe course of a month he finishes a nice,quantity of painted figures. Even 30 minutes each day will be relaxing for you and help reduce the stress in life. This assumes that you find that painting is a relaxing endeavor.

Life has so many stresses and we all need to carve out some "me time" to put us in the the right frame of mind so that we can take on all of the important things in our lives such as family and job. Me time could be, say, 30 minutes each day and it. Outdoor be anything from painting or reading or even taking a short cat nap ( the latter being my favorite activity these days).



PS. Wait until you see the new Minden cavalry castings.😎
Good resolutions but don't forget the gaming part! Plenty of smaller scenarios to keep your hand in even if its one per quarter.

But balance in all things, enjoy the skiing!
Thanks for the encouragement, men! 2019 just has to be a bit better hobby-wise. Oh, and Jim. . . I am thinking those new French heavy cavalry in bearskins might be just right for Bavaria's Empress Elizabeth's Horse Grenadiers, which apparently never took the field during the SYW, but red and blue uniforms are simply too stunning to ignore.

Best Regards,

Ed M said…
Cross country skiing with the family? Beware the slippery slope! Without warning, you'll find yourself sharing other family moments, weddings, school plays, social events with the lovely spouse...working regularly, getting used to receiving regular compensation, the temptations of career advancement (one shudders). And then what? I'll tell you what: eating regularly, showering and shaving almost every day, true warning signs that things have come too far! Resist! Paint: paint: paint!
Good to see you being more determined to embrace life, and by that Stokes I mean embracing wargaming with two hands. As Featherstone used to say, 'what would I have done without wargaming?'
Occasionally I will ask myself the same question. To be honest its a thought not worth contemplating as this hobby of ours has led me is so many directions, from the reading about some campaign, to a new way to paint figures, to some new set of rules that captures what I was seeking from a period. The list is endless. Enjoy each moment and good luck painting those Minden chaps.

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