Saturday, September 23, 2017

Paint Table Saturday: Rocks!

Not, of course, Paint Table Saturday rocks, as I am not a faux teenage American.  No, in my actual hobby time on Saturday today, I did not actually paint anything but I did do some work on my progressing scenic project for the Lost World and Savage Core (had one of those today with an apple from our tree which contained a nasty little visitor - although we are getting some lovely apples, on the whole, this year).

Last week, at Colours, I bought a couple of scenic rocks and during the week I sprayed them black and painted the base the same colour (Humbrol 29) as the bases on my figures.  You can see one of these in the picture at the top, which is now ready for the first coat of dry brushed grey.  I also painted all the little stones black as they will be grey too and not just the earth colour of the original.  I have envisaged a rocky landscape with added 'follidge' so was looking for one more large piece to comlpement the two I bought.  I found an excellent one on eBay which arrived this week.  I liked the look of this a lot but thought it had too much follidge for my purposes.

Like Monty Don attacking a bed of weeds, I set to and removed all the follidge, putting it aside for replanting later, where it will be scattered amongst the three pieces to give them some visual unity.  I discovered that each piece of follidge was planted in a little recess filled with (I assume) hot glue.  Having pulled the plants out (like real weeds, some came out easier that others) I then prized out the little hardened pots of hot glue (on the right) which, with a bit of help from a sharp knife, popped out like the scarabs in the wall in that scene in The Mummy.  One or two even skittered across the floor.

I admit to doing all this in the kitchen rather than at my desk, which meant doing so in the presence of the Old Bat.  Having worked out where some paths could go, I started to fill the recesses with filler, only for the Old Bat to point out that if I stuck some stones in the holes they would look better and also mean I would have to use less filler.  This never occurred to me but the Old Bat is good at crafts.  Fortunately, the Old Bat had a bucket of small rocks outside, left over from her demolition of the rockery, and after bashing some to bits with a hammer I  dropped them in the holes and topped them up with filler.  I have left some unfilled for the replacement follidge but now have some clear paths through the piece.  Tomorrow I will put some PVA and sand over the filled parts and, if it stays dry, spray it black.

All of this scenic effort compensates somewhat for a dismal attempt at figure painting last Sunday, when I tried to paint one of my Savage Core Amazons.  I have problems with my left eye (basically a blurred patch) and have now discovered that I cannot paint faces on my figures any more.  I tried and tried but just can't see what I am doing.  Hopefully, if they are roaming around lovely rocks no-one will notice but I found it frustrating not to be able to paint her features. She has a hood on, which makes it more difficult, admittedly, but I was quite depressed about it for a few days.

I went into Kingston last week to get September's wargames magazines and some spray undercoat and ended up buying a new chair for my desk.  Mine broke some months ago which meant that its spring loaded reclining function had gone, so in order to not fall out the back I had to sit perched on the front in such a way that the seat was cutting off the blood from my legs and giving me cramp.  Now I have a nice new chair, although Charlotte, who is now back in Edinburgh, said that I must have really tidied up my floor for this photograph, which is true. 

Today's wallpaper is a particularly enticing looking odalisque by the American orientalist painter Frederick Arthur Bridgman (1847-1928).  Originating, like the airmen, in Tuskegee, Alabama, he studied in Paris under Gérôme  (of Pollice Verso fame).  He spent a lot of time in Algeria and Egypt, making sketches and collecting clothing and props to give his paintings an authentic air.  Many of his paintings were accurate records of life in North Africa at the time but he produced a fair number of more exotic odalisques as well and none more enticing than this one.  Like all orientalist painters, his work fell out of fashion from the mid nineteen fifties but now they can  fetch $250,000 and up.

Today's music is the new CD by the principal harpist of the Philadelphia Orchestra. Elizabeth Hainen, which she planned out when stuck in her house in a snowstorm for several days.  An eclectic mix of composers from Bach to Glass it provides the requisite relaxation my glamorous new doctor says I need in order to reduce my very high blood pressure.  My musical niece, who is staying with us during the week while studying at the Guildhall School of Music, had a bit of a coup yesterday evening, when one of her compositions was played on Radio 3.  A proper composer, now!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Shopping at Colours...

This used to be the grass car park

Honestly, you get no posts for months and then two in a day! I was up early this morning to walk to the station (the Old Bat refused to drive me) to get over to Surbiton to meet up with Eric the Shed, who drove me to Colours with John, another Shedizen.  Unlike Salute, which I go to on public transport, I always drove to Colours (last time I attempted it in 2015 I had to give up as the M25 was so bad) so I tend to focus on buying scenery when I go there.  Since I went there last time in 2013, Newbury race course have built loads of flats (the sort that IT people live in) there, meaning a different way in and a more sophisticated car park.  Good job Eric was driving as I wouldn't have found the way in at all.  Fortunately. the M25 Gods smiled and we were there by just after ten.

I didn't take any pictures inside, partly because it was so dark (it made Salute look like a Hollywood sound stage in comparison) and partly because there was nothing to take pictures of, really. Some of the traders were in areas so dark that they looked like caves.  My deteriorating eyesight struggled.  The games, on the top of the three floors, looked rather dull and were right on top of each other, so getting at them was almost impossible.   I always considered the show as number two after Salute and above Warfare in Reading, in ranking of those I go to regularly but this year it seemed a bit dingy and sad.  Not what it was.

I didn't really have a shopping list except a vague plan to look at trees and I certainly wasn't really planning to buy any figures.  The first thing I saw were some Congo style wooden shields at the Foundry stand.  Now I have wanted these for some time but they weren't on the Foundry website so I was very glad to pick them up, despite the usurious price of £10 for 12 shields. 

Having said I didn't like MDF for scenic basis I couldn't resist these for some intermediate follidge pieces.  They are mid-way between my washer bases and the CD one I have made and are quite thin.  I might try and sand the edges a bit as we have borrowed the Old Bat's father's corner sander.  However, I have a fear of power tools, generally, so I will have to be brave as it is never as easy to use them as it appears.  When it comes to using tools I am always seconds away from A&E.

Next up, were some trees for Africa.  No acacia types but these have the requisite tall trunks and high canopies I was looking for.  I need a lot more like this.

I wanted some big rocks for Savage Core as I had always liked the publicity shot they produced early on, of simians on a rock in the jungle.  This, I suspect, from the cave/opening in it, started life as an aquarium piece but I was very happy to buy a based one.  I then went back and bought another smaller rock.  I will re-paint then and add some follidge.

When I got back home and looked at the Savage Core Facebook page I realised, to my delight, that the rock model I had bought was exactly the same as the one Lucid Eye had used.   Very happy with this!

I did get a few figures.  Recently, Lucid Eye have announced that the various factions for Savage Core will be appearing in cold weather Ice Age type garb, so I picked up the first of the Amazons (although heavily dressed Amazons goes against my aesthetic sensibilities).  I had no idea why the range had a man dressed as a German officer holding a rock but the rules make it perfectly clear, so I picked him up too.

I got the Lucid Eye figures at the Crooked Dice stand, so took the opportunity to pick up the new female cultists who will probably see service in In Her Majesty's Name.  I added nine figures to the lead pile but I really am going to start selling some unpainted figures off as I desperately need the space and Eric the Shed was appalled by the number of unpainted figures I have got.  He reckons he has only about a hundred unpainted figures, whereas I think I have about eight thousand!

All in all, I was very happy with my purchases and it was very kind of Eric to give me a lift.  I whizzed around the show pretty quickly and we left at about one o'clock.  I had a chat with Eric and Matakishi, who I once played a game of Prehistoric Settlement with, at Guildford Wargames Club.  Staggeringly, he remembered me!  I also had a long chat and a bacon roll (my glamorous new doctor would not approve) with Mike of Black Hat Miniatures, who originally invited me to my first game at Guildford many years ago.  This was all remarkably social for me!

Sadly (well actually not), we heard last night that we had won a big bid I did a lot of work on for Colombia, which means six to eight frantic weeks of work (I will try and avoid the Bogota section as I am due to go to Africa again in early November and, possibly, Central America later that month).  It will put paid to my hoped for more hobby time, though.  Tomorrow, I won't have any time either as I have to take Charlotte to the airport to go back to Edinburgh.  She left it until the last minute (as she does with everything) to decide on her flight and, as a result, it cost me £293 single (British Airways are advertising flights to the US for £325 at the moment!) plus £60 excess baggage for an extra suitcase.  Think how much follidge I could have bought for that.  I could have got my naked girly statue for that too!  The children's university accommodation is going to cost me about £15,000 this year.  The least they could do is empty the dishwasher once in a while.  Children!  Who needs them?

Paint Table Saturday: Sikhs and Follidge!

My lack of free weekends has continued, to my frustration, as I really want to play with my hot glue gun again, having produced my one, very simple, piece of folliidge (as the annoying Terrain Tutor calls it). I have been scouring garden centres looking for aquarium plants (and a nice naked girly statue for the garden to go outside my room - I think I have found one) and have, over the last few weeks, collected a plastic crate of equally plastic plants.

These have come from a number of garden centres in the area but Chessington has much the biggest range, although their selection of girly statues is poor.  Added to the usual plethora of Buddhas (why?) is now a new fashion for dragons which I am sure is something to do with Game of Thrones.

Congo jungle

It has taken some time for me to get over worrying about what follidge would look authentic for different environments, as I study pictures of, for example, the Congo  I have been worrying about the different definitions of 'jungle' and 'rain forest' and whether or not they have palm trees in the jungle (someone said on one group that they only existed at the coast in Africa not along rivers).  Then I found pictures of them along rivers and worried that while they may have them today, perhaps they weren't growing in the nineteenth century.  I then realised that given my African project was likely to feature an Amazon tribe (not a tribe from the Amazon -that is an entirely different project) then perhaps I was over thinking it and I should just  get some scenic pieces made!

I have decided to use, initially, round bases which are large washers and CDs/DVDs, partly because they are nice and thin and avoid that 'step up' scenery issue you get with MDF.  Also, I have no tools and no ability to use them so cannot contemplate how you get nice rounded shaped bases (you use a dremmel (?) according the the Terrain Tutor but I have no idea what one is and certainly don't want to own one).  Anyway, having watched the Terrain Tutor's annoying but (I have to admit) helpful videos on making jungle bases I will be proceeding with some, over the next week or so.  

Like Surrey with elephants

I have several different projects for which I will need jungle: Congo, The Lost World,  Savage Core and (possibly) conquistadores in Brazil and Panama   My dormant Zambezi campaign will not really use jungle terrain because, having travelled to Zambia some years ago, the terrain isn't really jungly at all but looks rather like, well, Surrey, where I live.  Also I have based my figures using  a pinkiish beige colour for that part of Africa so will need different coloured scenic bases.  There is a real problem in finding model trees suitable for Africa; with tall trunks and high canopies or wide-spreading Acacia trees

Lost World Explorers

My initial plan for these new jungle bases was for Savage Core (as I really like the new rules) and I have painted my Neanderthals with the brown bases so I will do so for the other tribes.  Also, I don't have to worry about authentic plants and can use some of the red ones that I have got for this.  I can also use some of these for the Lost World and the Amazon too.   So I will carry on and make some more brown coloured base jungle pieces.

Savage Core explorer painted for The Lost World

At this point I am not going to do trees in this new jungle base style.  I actually have quite a few trees up in the loft and am not sure whether there should be any for Savage Core (how would trees grow underground, anyway).  I will do some separate tree bases later.  One thing, however, is that I find the whole land under earth so troubling, scientifically, that maybe my Savage Core world would be better in a plateau in the Amazon, in the manner of the TV series Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World, with its tribe of the week.

Another tree problem has been resolved recently, however, in that I have found, at last, some suitable leafless trees for winter from the (expensive) railway scenery firm of Hoch.  I bought four of these and they seem to vary in price quite a lot, depending on where you get them from.  This, at last, gets me over my 1864 scenery problem and, given that North Star have released some more Danes recently, it puts them, if not at the front burner, then off the back burner.

Latterly, my eyesight, which has been deteriorating for some time, has taken a turn for the worse (especially my left eye) and I really thought that my figure painting days were over.  However, this week, with some bright light outside, I had a go at doing a bit more on my Sikh artillery for the North West Frontier.  I do have to squint a lot and am worried that I may end up looking like Lieutenant Columbo but I could just manage it.  Although I now know I won't be able to paint figures again to the standard of the ones further up this page, I can still paint to acceptable wargames standard, so that will just have to do.   But as my lady friend A says: "As you look at them from three feet higher than the table what does it matter?"   Maybe if I have nice follidge, people won't notice the blurry painting!

My niece (conducting!)

My musical niece is going to be staying with us, intermittently, over the next few weeks as she has been awarded a scholarship to the Guildhall School of Music and will find it easier to commute from here than her house, so we have had to clear out Guy's old bedroom as it was full of boxes of rubbish.  As a result we had to put stuff in the loft which meant getting rid of stuff up there.  The Old Bat keeps eyeing my wargames pile up there and saying that as I haven't touched it for years maybe I don't need it.  As a sop to her, I decided to get rid of a load of old model kits and am getting rid of a lot of SF film books too.  I do need to look at this wargames pile, though, as I have no idea what is in it!

Today's music is the opera-ballet Les Indes Galantes by Rameau, which was first staged in 1735.    Partly inspired by a visit to the court of Louis XV by a group of native Americans about ten years previously, the opening has Hebe, the goddess of youth presiding over dances by her followers. The happy revels are interrupted by Bellona (how we loved their vacuum formed scenery in the seventies), goddess of war who wants to take them off to fight, much to the disgust of Cupid who decides to seek a more love-friendly environment in the Indies (basically a series of exotic lands including the Peru of the Incas, the Ottoman Empire and North America - it is a loose definition of Indies).

I first saw this opera on Blu-ray at my friend A's house a couple of months ago, in a modern dress version produced in Bordeaux.  Well, I say modern dress but for most of the thirty minute prologue no one is dressed at all, apart from the splendid, part Berber, French-Algerian soprano Amel Brahim-Djelloulas as Hebe, who is wearing the most diaphanous of shifts.  Something of the flavour of this entertaining, if not entirely successful, production can be seen in this prologue here, complete with Mlle. Brahim-Delloulas in her shift and some rather sweet but silly naked dancing.  The Chrsitie conducted CD is musically superior, however.

Harem nude (c. 1910)

More orientalist inspiration in today's wallpaper of a harem nude by Georges Antoine Rochegrosse  (1859-1938), one of a number of harem style nudes he produced.  There is an Algerian link to Rochegrosse, as well, as he spent his winters there and utilised  source material from there for many of his paintings.

Rochegrosse also produced this wonderfully spirited painting called The Heroes of Marathon, which certainly makes up in energy what it lacks in accurate phalanx depiction.

Off to Colours today with Eric the Shed!  Haven't been there since 2013 and when I wrote up my report on the blog, then, I was contacted for the first time by...Eric the Shed!

Thursday, September 07, 2017

I am back blogging!

For various reasons which I will go into at inordinate length on another occasion, I have had no hobby time over the last three months and, therefore, it seemed pointless to do any posts.  I did do a review of Dan Mersey's new Wargmes Guide to the Anglo-Zulu War and now you have an exciting Vuelta a España themed Spanish recipe to enjoy today too, on my food blog.


I had one hobby triumph in that I bought a hot glue gun (thanks for all the encouragement, tips and warning from my Facebook friends) and stuck an aquarium plant to a base. I felt very clever and now have more bases painted and ready to be covered in 'follidge', as the Terrain Tutor calls it.  This has really caught on in our house and even the Old Bat is referring to the 'follidge' in the garden.  I went to Staines at the weekend and bought some lichen and clump follidge in Hobby Craft.  I haven't bought any lichen since about 1972 and was very excited by the chance to buy actual  clump follidge (which sounds like a character in an English Civil War novel) as recommended by the Terrain Tutor (yeah?)

Very good at golf!

I hope I might actually get some time to do some more follidge on Saturday, although I have to take my daughter to and from Kingston to meet her friends for lunch (unlike Guy, she has not learned to drive yet).  The Old Bat ran into the mother of one of Charlotte's friends from junior school at the weekend.  I was asked to conduct a drawing class for them once at the school when they were all about  ten and remember this girl from that.

Then they emigrated to Florida where the girl took up golf and became State champion.  They have now moved back to the UK.  "You can look her up on the internet, her mother told the Old Bat, proudly.  "search her name and then add 'golf'.

"Goodness me, she has grown up!" said the Old Bat.  I thought of that song from Gigi and felt very old.  I wonder whether she would like another drawing lesson?