Saturday, March 03, 2018

Paint Table Saturday: Here's a howdah do!

A bit more of an action shot for Paint Table Saturday, as I get on with my Victrix Carthaginian war elephants.  I hope to finish the howdah's this weekend and in fact the main structures are done and varnished so they just need to be stuck on the elephants and the spear quivers adding.  I have also made a start on the crew.  There was a TV programme about Hannibal taking his elephants over the Alps this week. It was one of those ones billed as presenting 'exciting new evidence' which, as usual, had nothing of the kind, other than they found a valley that was full of horse poo from about the right period of time.  No actual proof of elephants, however.  It looks like his elephants didn't have howdahs but that would be boring (someone makes an undressed one I think).

The view from my study this week

Nice bright weather helps, today, and it is much warmer in my study,  We didn't get much snow, living in civilised Surrey, as all the exhaust fumes from the 4x4s keep the temperature up, compared with the more primitive parts of the country.  It was quite cold, though.  One morning the temperature in my study was just five degrees before I got the heaters on (my radiator packed up years ago and there is just too much stuff in front of it for a plumber to get access).  The roads were all clear ,although I did have to postpone my visit to the Charles I art exhibition at the Royal Academy yesterday evening.  Good job I did, as Waterloo station shut at 8.00pm. 

Helen of Troy versus the Styracosaurus - just what the BBC series needs to liven it up

On Thursday I had spent twelve hours editing a document for my father in law on mobile magnetic resonance scanners (some of it was a bit beyond me, I admit) so yesterday we went to the garden centre .  Now I hate garden centres, except my wife knows this one has an excellent selection of dinosaur models so she knew that if I went I would end up paying for her oasis.  Anyway, I got a nice Styracosaurus.  It's a bit bigger than it should be but not by much.  When I have finished the elephant and crew I am going to start on my Antediluvian miniatures retrosaurus, as the painting technique will be similar to an elephant.

I also got some more jungle type follidge in little pots so have been pulling it out of the polystyrene to go in my giant follidge box.  Three little pots and one big one of what looks like giant ferns, which will be ideal for The Lost World.  I even started to entertain thoughts of making it into a giant tree fern by attaching it to  a trunk. but then I had a mug of Lifeboat tea and came to my senses.  That would be far too close to actual modelling.

I did pick up another aquarium type rock and this one is full of little caves so it will be ideal as the habitat for the Lucid Eye simians for Savage Core.  I need to remove the plants and paint it to match my other rocks though.  I also ordered some more smaller rocks this week so will paint it when they arrive.

What is the appeal of watching winter sports for the Legatus?

I haven't managed much painting over the last few weeks because of the Winter Olympics (good job by the Koreans) and poor light.  I did spend far too much time watching ladies in skintight lycra skiing, sliding and skating (I didn't bother to watch most of the men's events, so as to save time).  I have more time to catch up on my TV backlog, now, although new series of Nashville and Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.LD start this week.  I haven't seen the second episode of Troy: Fall of a City (I wonder what happens in the end?) yet and the third is on tonight.  Tonight, the Old Bat will want to watch The Voice so I might finish assembling the Carthaginian crew for the elephants.

The reading girl (1886), Roussel

Today's wallpaper demonstrates one of the easiest things to get a model to do, while she endures the tedious process of being captured on paper or canvas, which is to let her read a book. The fact that she is concentrating on a book also distances her from the viewer. There is no opportunity to engage the viewer directly, as her gaze is elsewhere. It adds a voyeuristic quality to the picture. This painting, by French born, but London based, artist Théodore Roussel, is a marvellous composition. Irish painter William Orpen called it the finest nude painting of the time, although its realism shocked many due to its lack of classical justification for the nudity.  The art critic of The Specator wrote:."Our imagination fails to conceive any adequate reason for a picture of this sort. It is realism of the worst kind, the artist’s eye seeing only the vulgar outside of his model, and reproducing that callously and brutally. No human being, we should imagine, could take any pleasure in such a picture as this; it is a degradation of Art."  It's actually a wonderful painting with Hetty's pale body glowing against the almost black background. Only the kimono (a reflection of Roussel's interest in Japanese art) gives any colour to the painting.  Roussel's friend Whistler called it "an extraordinary picture" ,

Hetty Pettigrew (1889) by Sambourne

The model in this painting is nineteen year old Hetty (also variously known as Bessie, Harriet or Nettie) Pettigrew (1867-1953) who. with her sisters Lily (b. 1870 and Rose (b. 1872), modelled for Whistler, Millais, Godward, Poynter. Leighton, Holman Hunt, Burne-Jones and others. Hetty was born in Portsmouth but the family were originally from the West Country. Millais said that the sisters were gypsies (although they themselves claimed aristocratic antecedents) and her sister Rose described Hetty as having a "cruel wit". They were generally considered, by those who painted them, as a bit of a handful. The  penniless Pettigrew sisters came to London in 1884 and their artist brother suggested they could make a living as models. He was right and they became the most sought after models in London, with painters offering them bribes to pose for them instead of other artists. The Pettigrew sisters commanded fees for modelling of no less than half a guinea a day, about twice what a housemaid would earn in a week.  Hetty became Roussel's mistress and bore him a child in 1900.  When Roussel's wife died in 1914, Hetty was shattered when Roussel married another woman and she never posed for him again.  Hetty was photographed, at the age of 23, by Punch illustrator and amateur photographer, Edward Linley Sambourne (1844-1910)  (Lord Snowdon's great-grandfather and furniture designer Viscount Linley's great-great-grandfather) and the photograph shows how well Roussel caught her features.

Today's music is another purchase this week and adds to my pulp playlist.  It is the soundtrack to The Phantom (1996) which I rather enjoyed but, like The Shadow (1994) and The Rocketeer (1991), it failed to kick start the pulp genre in Hollywood.  Composed by David Newman (son of Hollywood golden age composer Alfred Newman) it hits all the requisite adventure buttons and will become a pulp figure painting favourite, no doubt.