Regular readers of my paint table Saturday posts may be surprised by the absence of paint in this picture. Previously there were dozens of pots of Humbrol enamel to the left, where my mug now resides in solitary splendour. Under the computer screen were piles of figures I was working on and to the right was a horrible pile of paints, unopened figures and paintbrushes. Chaotic does not even begin to describe it. Then I read about a storage system in a review in Wargames illustrated and in less than 48 hours was presented with a heavy box of nicely finished plywood pieces. Perhaps emboldened by my work in assembling my Victrix war elephants I charged straight in to start working on it.
I was so impressed with the unit and my skills in assembling it (er) that I sent off for two more units of drawers from the same manufacturer. These went together as easily, although were not quite so robust, being MDF, but once painted black fitted pretty well with the big unit. Together, the two were the same width as the large unit, although a little less deep from to back. They came with drawer dividers but I wasn't going to use them so chucked them out. No doubt Eric the Shed would have used the bits to make a Northwest Frontier fort!
So, here are the three units in situ. Glue, filler, files and glasses top left. Paints I am currently using underneath them. Below that three drawers which hold tall bottles of varnish and paint, taller figures in process (Byzantines with spears) and bases, The big drawer underneath that has all my Citadel paints and washes and the bottom draw has other figures in progress. In the centre there is a space for white spirit and matches for stirring paint. Top left there are special racks for paintbrushes and next to that are knives, my magnifying craft glasses and my water pot. In the big drawer below that are bits and transfers. The bottom two drawers are more Humbrol tinlets. It really is amazing how much I got into this thing!
I couldn't quite get everything in. My pots of sand and gravel with some overflow paints have gon onto my old paint rack behind the computer screen but it is an amzing improvement on what was there before.
This is just part of an ongoing tidy up of my study. There is still an awful lot to do but I now have one tidy corner at least. The next job is to file a load of DVD's into albums and free up some shelf space for books, Step by step!
So now that I have a less stressful working environment what is on today's workbench? I haven't forgotten about the Carthaginian elephant crew but I am waiting the arrival of some Micro-sol and Micro-set for the shield transfers. In the interim I have started the Byzantine infantry I got at Salute. These aren't as refined as Victrix plastics but are perfectly serviceable and do not suffer from gnomish big head syndrome like the Gripping Beast plastics I have seen (at least their Vikings). I bought the extra resin command and these are very nice indeed. Assembling the resin figures was a bit of a pig as even superglue takes ages to dry on them and you need to wait an hour after sticking on one arm, for example, before attempting to glue the next piece. This is the second batch for a unit of twelve for Lion Rampant. I have already started painting the first five but will leave them now until I get these up to the same stage.
I didn't get any painting done last weekend as I was down in Cowes for my father in law's ninetieth birthday party at the Royal Yacht Squadron at the Castle. The Squadron are brilliant at this sort of thing and the weather was wonderful, which helped a lot as it meant that guests could wander out onto the lawn overlooking the Solent. Tea on the lawn (technically tea overlooking the lawn) being a popular activity during Cowes week. A couple of years ago I had a nice chat with Zara Tindall, Princess Anne's daughter, there. Princess Anne knows my parents-in-law and has been sailing on their boat a number of times. She is very nice too and was quite prepared to muck in on the boat, clean the decks, empty the bin etc. The Old Bat is not convinced about 'that trashy American' due to marry into the Royal family imminently. 'I wouldn't curtsey to her!' she maintains. "She just wants a title then she will dump Harry and will be back to America and hope to become Jackie Onassis for the rest of her life!" says the Bat. She'll still watch the wedding on TV, though, so she can be rude about all the women's outfits.
You are not really allowed to take pictures inside the Castle but I couldn't resist taking a shot of the Kaiser's racing ensign, from the Imperial yacht, just outside where the lunch was held (which isn't in the main building anyway). There were two types of guests: yachtsmen and supercharged medical people. All of them (and especially their wives) were snapping away inside on their mobile phones, disgracefully. My father-in-law asked me to look after a girl (the youngest person there by about forty years) from a boatyard on the Thames who had single-handedly restored a Dunkirk little ship. He was worried she might be a bit overpowered by the type of guests (three potential Nobel prize winners) but there were enough boaty people for her to feel at home. Last time I had seen her she was bending planks of wood to fit the hull of a boat. Talk about having all the skills I don't. She came on her motorbike and despite wearing a nice blue dress, her arms and thighs (it was a very short blue dress) were speckled in paint. Splendid, I thought, until I realised that I was old enough to be her grandfather.
Lunch was excellent and, as a bonus the Old Bat wasn't there as she had to work and she certainly wouldn't have liked the Bembridge lobster. 'What sort of person eats something like that?" she cries in utter incomprehension. Me, actually. Isle of Wight lobsters are some of the best in Britain and when Mary Berry did a TV programme on them it was to the Island that she came.
The Squadron are very good at using local suppliers for their food and they had the full range of Isle of Wight cheese and even local crackers. Yum yum. It isn't that many years since the Isle of Wight was famous for being the only county in Britain without a single entry in the Good Food Guide but now it produces wonderful crustacea, lamb, tomatoes, garlic (especially), wine, beer and even gin. There is even a Michelin starred restaurant on the Island now but I have never been. The Old Bat would object to the price (she doesn't approve of going out to eat when you can 'buy the same food in a supermarket'), Guy only eats breaded chicken and pizza and Charlotte is a vegetarian. It's no wonder that I go out to eat regularly with ladies from my past!
I went to the Ocean Liners exhibition, at the Victoria and Albert Museum, with one of these ladies recently. This really is the best exhibition I have attended for some time and is highly recommended. I have always wanted to cross the Atlantic on a liner, although my father-in-law says it is often a rough experience. He lived and worked in the United States in the late fifties and returned home in the SS Saxonia. He had bought a new car in the US and provided it was over a year old he would avoid the import purchase tax of twice the value of the car that would be levied on arriving in Britain. He had calculated that he would avoid this by one day but the Saxonia was making such good speed that it was due to arrive a day early and he would be clobbered by the tax. Being my father-in-law, he asked the captain to slow the ship down! This he couldn't do but instead, took an unscheduled detour to Le Havre instead and saved my father-in-law hundreds of pounds.
It is appropriate that today's music is the official CD of the Liners exhibition which is a great collection of twenties, thirties and forties music, which played inside the exhibition. I bought the book too. I really need to get my bookshelves sorted!
Nude lying on a couch (1873)
Today's wallpaper is by Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894). Caillebotte qualified as a lawyer and also an engineer but was drafted into the Garde Nationale Mobile de la Seine in the Franco-Prussian War. It was only afterwards that he began to study art seriously and he first exhibited in the second Impressionists exhibition in 1876. Although, as can be seen here, many of his paintings showed a tighter realism than his peers. Caillebotte's brother died at a young age and the artist (rightly) thought that he would not live into old age, so he wrote a detailed will leaving his collection of his and other impressionist paintings (Renoir was his executor) to the French State. Impressionism still wasn't really accepted in Paris by the authorities and they didn't want them balthough an exhibition of part of Caillbotte's collection, after his death at the age of 48, was the first show of impressionist paintings held in a public venue, at the Palais de Luxembourg. More than thirty years later, the French government, having changed their mind about impressionism, tried to grab the collection but the Caillebotte family saw them off and many of the paintings in the collection were bought by Albert Barnes and taken into his Barnes Collection in Philadelphia, where the Legatus went to see them a few years ago.
This is an uncompromisingly realistic nude for 1873 and has none of the usual themes that artists used to justify painting naked ladies at the time; such as bathers or classical subjects. As a result, it has a timeless quality which makes it look more modern than its 145 year old age.