Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Perils of the Pile

I did a bit more on my Beja this evening and was thinking about taking some on holiday to paint. Given that I am getting on quite well with them, though, I may finish this fifteen before I leave. So I just had the Perry Miniatures page open ready to order another couple of packs when I decided to put my Musketeer Russian pikemen away to clear some space on the increasingly crowded workbench. As I did I idly looked to see what Perry British I had to paint and blow me down I found 27 Beja I hadn't started. So no need to put an order in after all. I don't remember buying them and I was convinced I needed some of the "in ambush" ones to complete a unit but, no, I had those too.

I definitely have too much on my mind at the moment with work. I'm trying to run too many countries at once (a bit like my wargames armies!) At least I have a couple of interns helping me but they will have gone by the end of August.

At least I'm not getting stressed by the painting now I have a new brush on the go. I think its time to have a glass of Rioja and watch today's Tour (Girona to Barcelona). I've been to Girona but never Barcelona. I was asked to speak at a conference in Barcelona a couple of weeks ago, all expenses paid, but I just couldn't fit it in. Rats. I would probably have just come back wanting to paint El Cid figures though!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Paint Brushes

One of the reasons that I have not been enjoying my painting much lately is that my paint brush has started to go. One of the problems of using enamel paints is that they are very hard on brushes. I reckon that a brush lasts about two to three months before it loses its point and I have to replace it. They tend to go all of a sudden and that's what happened to me about two weeks ago. I had a spare to hand but it wasn't one of my usual ones and I'm not getting on with it. I went to Kingston on Sunday to get another one but, annoyingly, the art shop is closed on Sundays until September (credit crunch, no doubt).

I only use Winsor & Newton Series 7 Kolinsky sable brushes which you can't get everywhere. I always used to use them for painting (pictures not figures) and just naturally graduated to them for model soldiers when I started painting figures seriously about ten years ago. Fortunately, there are a couple of very good art shops in Soho so I nipped out at lunchtime today to get a new one from Cass Art. Hooray they had a sale on so my normal brush was £4.95 rather than the normal £8.00 each. I bought four just to be on the safe side.

The Winsor & Newton factory in Harrow, built in 1898

They are so expensive because they are all hand made in a special room at the Winsor & Newton factory in Harrow, West London. The brushes are taper dressed, which means that the hairs in them aren't all the same length. This gives a better point. Cheaper (even other sable) brushes are usually ‘solid' dressed; using hair of a single length per brush but this leads to an inferior point.

Series 7 are so named because in 1866 Queen Victoria asked Winsor & Newton to make her some brushes in her favourite size 7. I tend to use only 00 size brushes although I picked up a 000 today as well as I have tartan to paint!

I am actually looking forward to going home tonight and doing a bit of painting (although the weather and, hence, the light are horrible today). I'd like to get on with the Beja but I haven't put sand on the bases yet so will have to let that dry before I can put any paint on. I may do a bit on my next four Perry Sudan Highlanders instead.

Friday, July 03, 2009

No painting again!

Well, I have got no painting done for the last week due to a combination of things conspiring against me as usual.

Firstly, we have been getting all the stuff back into our new kitchen (or trying to; as we have lost several cupboards due to the new boiler/fridge/dishwasher) but my wife is cleaning everything first so I still have piles of plates, saucepans etc on my study floor. I physically can’t get at my lead pile! At least now we have a new kitchen table that’s big enough for wargaming! “Why do we need a table with those big extensions on?” says my wife. Heh, heh!

Secondly, it was her 50th birthday and so there were various family celebrations at the weekend. Waking up on her 50th to find that Michael Jackson had died aged 50 didn’t put her in the best of moods however. Then, having planned to have the day off, I had to go into work for a couple of meetings. However, given that one was breakfast at the Mansion House and the other was lunch with two delightful Canadian ladies at Claridges it wasn’t too bad. At least for me!

On the Sunday I had to go and support my wife and daughter who were running the women only Race for Life on Epsom Downs: 6,000 women in pink tee shirts running in sweltering heat. A terrifying amount of oestrogen in the air. The few male back-up teams clung together at the finish in clumps whilst the horde thundered off on their circuit of the scorched looking downs. It looked like Isandlwana for Barbies.

This week I have had Omani and Romanian visitors, a corporate risk workshop, a meeting of the government group I chair, a policy session with the Chairman, a presentation to the health practice and an epic briefing with our new financial PR firm. With the 30 plus degree heat on top I am pretty shattered and was hoping for a nice quiet weekend of painting but, no! It’s my little boy’s school speech day tomorrow which means making small talk for hours with the bizarre collection of Premiere League footballers, WAGs, Russian billionaires and porn stars who make up the parents at Guy’s school. Then you have to sit in a sweltering marquee for hours whilst lots of swotty little creeps pick up their prizes. No chance of Guy getting anything, although I have just found today that his team of four have won the national schools Concept 2 rowing competition against 400 other schools and he has been given a national gold medal! He is very pleased with himself! I attended one of the top rowing schools in the country and was forced to row whether I liked it or not (I didn’t) but at least he can row indoors and not on the freezing Thames in January like I had to.

At least we started to fill the pool this week (we didn’t bother last year), and we’ve now got 20 inches of water in it so far. As the Tube and the trains on the way home have been horrifically hot this has been very welcome. Mrs Legatus has got very fit doing her training for the race and has been showing off her figure by skinny dipping in the pool in the evenings. Something about being 50 and fabulous no doubt (she is older than me but doesn’t look it to be fair!) but it has distracted me enough that I haven’t painted anything in the evenings!

On to wargaming and Keith at Guildford Wargames club has suggested that we combine to do a Sudan wargame in August and I am very much looking forward to this. We will be using The Sword and the Flame rules and I am planning to get a couple of dozen more figures done by then. I need to know if I’m the British or not. If I am I will paint a British field gun if not I will get some more Beja camel cavalry done and maybe one of the Perries Mahdist cannon with captured Egyptian crew.

I have nearly finished eight Balearic slingers for Zama which I started very recently and have some Spanish ready to go next. I’ve started re-reading David Anthony Durham’s novel Hannibal Pride of Carthage. I started it a couple of years ago but stopped half way through. Not because it isn’t any good, it is, but I always have about ten books on the go at a time. This is caused by me always starting a new book on a foreign trip (I don’t want to take half read ones in my luggage) and then leaving the others behind. I then forget what happened in the book so sometimes (like in this case) I have to go back to the beginning to start again. It is well over 600 pages, though, but it will keep me focussed on Zama. There are some good battle scenes in it and it had a lot to do with me buying a lot of Ancient Spanish a couple of years ago.

Despite knowing I should be concentrating on Zama I can’t stop buying figures, however, and have just got a unit of Artizan Romano-British, to go up against my Musketeer Early Saxons, which I will try and paint in one go. I was also looking at Phil Hendry’s blog and he has just painted a really nice looking unit of Gripping Beast Knights Templar. I thought they looked so striking that I bunged in an order straight away even though I have no idea what period they are for! At least I do have some painted Perry Turkish horse archers as some sort of vague opposition but given the style of the figures I think that the Musketeer figures will be better opposition. Oh good, two new armies!

I’m also reading Ian Gale’s Four Days in June at the moment which started a bit slowly but now I have reached the fighting at Hougoumont it has really got going. I have a great desire to obtain a 28mm scaled Hougoumont. I wonder if anyone makes one? Maybee I could commission one from Grand Manner. I still have some Waterloo Perry British and French on the workbench and will keep doing odd bits to them as I concentrate on the Sudan and Zama (in theory).

I’m off to the JW Waterhouse exhibition at the Royal Academy tonight so at least that won’t get me onto any new periods. But then again, I did buy all those Foundry Nymphs a few years ago! I’m hoping that they will have Hylas and the Nymphs on display. I had a red-headed girl in my Roman Law tutor group in my first week at college who loved this painting (she looked just like one of the aforesaid nymphs, it has to be said) and I bought her a poster of it at Athena. This proved to be an excellent investment as she insisted that I draw some pictures (I had a place at art school but decided to do law instead) of her as a naked nymph. The Waterhouse pictures will bring back some very torrid memories!