Saturday, April 25, 2020

Paint Table Saturday: Three projects

It's paint table Sunday and I have realised that it is counter-productive to write blog posts when I could be painting so I am doing this, retrospectively, now that the good light has gone. I get bored painting, very quickly, and given my eye issues I no longer find it relaxing and  can only manage about forty five minutes at a time, now.  To stop myself getting too bored, therefore, I usually have around three active projects on the go at the same time.

I began these warriors of Rohan, for Lord of the Rings, back early last year but have pulled them out again. I have now located their shields and today I finished the base coats of them, So for the next few weeks it will be onto shading.

First completed figures of 2020

This week I finished the Lucid Eye Red Simians and as the factions for this game are only seven figures I dug out another unit I had started. In fact all I had done on these was the flesh base coat. Why do I hate the word 'flesh'? It gives me the shivers and I never use it in spoken English. It's like the American  'panties' or 'tights' or 'offal'. Just nasty, creepy words that make my brain recoil.

Next up, therefore are the Jaguar Tribe who are based, I believe, on some Aztec period Central American people. I haven't looked up how they should look as the historical name of the people is too complicated for me to remember. It was like yesterday when my father in law asked me what antibiotics the Old Bat was on and I couldn't for the life of me remember or pronounce their names. The Bat had a relapse last week and the doctor sent her to Epsom Hospital. They actually put her in a bed in the Covid-19 ward (interestingly, only four people in it) while they did tests. Oddly, they didn't test for the Chinese Virus as they were sure that she had had it. They put her chest pains down to Gastroesophageal reflux and presecribed some pills, They let her out of the hospital and the next day she felt worse. By Friday she couldn't breathe but, fortunately, the local doctor rang up to check on her. She prescribed some antibiotics and I just managed to get them before the pharmacy closed. Just as well as by eight in the evening she couldn't breath or speak (that's how you know the Old Bat is really ill). However the antibiotics kicked in and this morning she is tired but much better. The doctor had rightly diagnosed pneumonia (which a lot of Chinese Virus patients seem to be getting afterwards). So, anyway I moved the Jaguar tribe along yesterday between running errands for the Bat.

Also, as part of the Jaguar faction, there are a couple of, well, Jaguars. I will paint one as black and try to paint the other in its spotted form, although that may be a bit ambitious.

Finally, my third unit under way is another Lucid Eye Savage Core unit, the Atlanteans, who I based and undercoated on today. They are are, basically, Ancient Greeks. I have painted quite a lot of Greeks so should be able to manage these. I need to decide on a colour scheme for them. As they are not historical I can go wild so I think I am going to use the colour scheme I used for Lucius Verus who, in turn, I based on a costume from Cleopatra (1963).

So, these three projects should keep my busy, although I am flat out at work at the moment writing a very long report so can't paint during the day. Maybe I can get a bit done some mornings but the weather is not going to be so bright next week.

I usually drink Lifeboat Tea but have nearly run out so have not opened the last two boxes I have (because if you finish your last boxes you will get the Chinese Virus and die) so am currently drinking Fortnum & Mason's Queen Anne tea which is loose leaf. Now, I used to be a terrible tea snob at university and we all only drank leaf tea. It's years since I have had it at home but it is a bit of a revelation, not least as regards price per mug. The box I have (which was part of a hamper my parents in law were given at Christmas) is £12.95 a tin. But twenty-five teabags of the same stuff is £5.95.  This makes the loose tea much, much better value. I started the tin three weeks ago and have over a third left. twenty-five tea bags, costing nearly half the price of a tin, would have lasted me about three days.  I think it was my slinky lady friend K, at Oxford, who used to drink this. It is certainly fragrant, elegant, warming and, indeed, familiar. There is a Fortnum & Mason shop in the Royal Exchange in the City, so when I can next go to London I might get some more or try Royal Blend, which is the one I used to have.

So, finally, what are my annoyances this week? One wargaming and one not. A really major annoyance is that on my new computer keyboard the insert key is next to the backspace key, something I don't remember from my old keyboard. So when I hit the backspace key (which I do a lot) I more often than not hit the insert key. This turns my cursor into a blue block which starts gobbling up text until  I notice. It is not good for my blood pressure!  Argh! It's just done it again while writing this paragraph.  The second annoyance is bases on wargames ships. Now, I have ranted on before as to my inability to comprehend why people put bases on AFV models (they aren't going to fall over!) but the new Warlord Games WW2 ship game (which I might have been interested in) come with the most ludicrous bases I have ever seen on a ship model. They are all stuck on something that looks like a French bread pizza base. Talk about an instant no sale. The models for their Cruel Seas weren't like this! Anyway, these naval games seem to require huge amounts of on board (to coin a phrase) clutter and I don't like tokens and cards next to units.

To go with my Savage Core painting, I am listening to American ambient composer Michael Stearns' atmospheric 1995 album, The Lost World.  It really is a perfect accompaniment!

Today's wallpaper is the accurate if unimaginatively named 'bathers' (1920) by the Belgian painter Théo van Rysselberghe (1862-1926). It was painted toward the end of his life, in the South of France, like most of his nude groups.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

It's not Salute!

Today is not Salute! Well, well, hardly any of you (except Eric the Shed) have wondered what has happened to the Legatus blog. It is just over a year since I last posted; easily the longest interval since I began this blog back in April 2006. So why did I stop? There are two reasons, really. Firstly, I am now using Facebook to keep up to date with the hobby more than blogger (Facebook posts can be so much shorter to write or, rather, they are with me) but, secondly, I haven't really been painting anything. I had a good start to 2019 with some Byzantines and Indian Mutiny figures but then I stopped. I did finish one figure since I stopped blogging: a Modiphius John Carter Great White Ape which I finished in August.  

My most recently completed figure (August 2019)

I based the colour scheme on the cover of the Edgar Rice Burroughs paperback I had when I first read the John Carter stories back in the seventies.  I meant to get straight on and paint some more of these very nice figures (not so nice to cut off their sprues and assemble - this figure took me an hour to construct). I really enjoyed painting it but when I went back to some 28mm ones (John Carter himself was supposed to be next) I struggled with the small size and my fluctuating eyesight.  Now my eye consultant is pleased (and I am pleased to have such a slinky eye consultant) with the progress on my eyes following laser treatment and eye injections but I realise that I will never be able to paint like I could ten years ago. Gradually I am coming to terms with this but this is where Facebook is a nightmare because many people on it do the most amazing work (why are so many superb painters Spanish - is it the light?). I just cannot comprehend how they can paint the way they do.  I wouldn't mind if I could paint quickly like Eric the Shed but I can't do that either!

One thing that annoys me with the Facebook groups I am on is when someone posts something obviously utterly brilliant (a Victrix Roman I saw today) and they ask people what they think. Talk about fishing for compliments. Hideous. Even worse is when people post things and other people comment negatively in a 'it should be a darker blue' sort of way.  Of course these people are inevitably foreign. They do not realise that the way to do it in Britain is to quietly deride something you don't like without saying anything!  It is very bad form and very vulgar to say what you actually think. In our second year at university, a Canadian Rhodes Scholar joined our legal year group. After about a week he grabbed one of us and asked: 'why does nobody talk to me, come and visit me (being North American he probably said the annoying "come visit me") or sit with me at lunch?" We all smiled and were non-committal. The answer, of course, was that he was five feet tall, had a voice that made him sound exactly like Mickey Mouse and he kept telling everyone he already had five degrees. "Canadian degrees?, asked one of our year, now a QC.  We should have said you are short, squeaky, Canadian, too pushy and a show off. But we didn't. We just sneered at him behind his back. The proper British way.

Another thing that is annoying me about Facebook pages is people who show their finished figures by holding them in their fingers. Why? Do they not have a flat surface to put them on? I don't want to see your revolting, grimy, paint stained fingers. And the person who uses their hand as a palette! Good grief.

I have to thank Alastair for showing me how to stop my Facebook notifications being swamped by dozens of posts a day from the Star Wars Legion and Lord of the Rings groups. I now have turned opff notifications from all groups so I only see posts from friends )hopefully).

Brexit has seen me delete many Facebook 'friends'. I see lots of people say 'we can agree to disagree'. How feeble! If you disagree with me you are wrong and I don't want anything to do with you. I didn't speak to my best friend for six weeks following a 'discussion' about Brexit, so if you are an ephemeral Facebook friend you have no chance!  I have also started getting friend requests from people who, when you look at their page, have no content on it. I am not interested in chasing friends for the sake of it. If you have no content I have no interest in you (exception to Eric the Shed as I appreciate his Facebook stance) and he is a proper acquaintance I know in real life.

The other reason that I haven't done any painting is that the Old Bat doesn't like it.  One of my lady friends opined that I shouldn't keep calling her the Old Bat (even though her sister does) so sometimes I will refer to her as the Bag for Life instead. The Bat for Life has no hobbies. She does not do leisure time. Her entire life is an endless list of jobs to be done. She thinks I should be spending my time doing jobs too. It gets her really mad if I am painting because she says I should be mowing the lawn (a constant cri de coeur), or sweeping up leaves (a more pointless activity I cannot imagine) or fixing the tiles in the bathroom that have fallen off etc. The problem is that I have dyspraxia and I just can't do the more complex DIY tasks she requires (or even the easy ones - the number of time I have mown over the mower cord). I can't do them to her standard, anyway, If I try she berates me for being useless. So now I absolutely refuse to do anything if I know she can do a better job. Which she invariably can. I pay for your life, I say, so you can do domestic jobs. This was all well and good until several big contracts we had got delayed. All our work is for overseas governments and we are often tripped up by their budgeting cycle, so the work I was supposed to do in Botswana in the Autumn and Egypt in January and February has been delayed. These two jobs would have, essentially, paid for my life for a year but no contracts no money. "You should be finding a better job", cackles the Bat. So if I even looked like I was moving unpainted figures around I got barked at and told to get a job in Sainsburys, if I had that much spare time. I applied once, years ago and they turned me down. Then,  of course, came the Chinese Virus and all of our work was postponed indefinitely (I am supposed to be in Cairo at present).  Fortunately, a piece of work for the UK government in Nigeria has appeared and I can do that from home, so now I am allowed to paint again (a bit). I am certainly not like these people who have spent the last few weeks just painting while being paid by their employers. I manage the odd hour here and there if the light is good.  I tried a bit yesterday but it was raining and hopeless even with two daylight bulbs on but today was better and I am enjoying it again.

Then, of course, it appeared that the Bat caught the virus. She had many of the symptoms (her sister is a former GP and was convinced she had it) and was bedridden for a week and I had to sleep downstairs on the floor (as Guy had been sent home early from Exeter University and filled the spare room with junk). I went to bed early as I was tired too but actually enjoyed reading in bed, which I can't when I am in with the Bag for Life. I am reading Sax Rohmer's The Insidious Dr Fu Manchu which is all about the evil Chinese bringing a mysterious virus to London. Hmm. The poor virus didn't stand a chance when pitted against the Bat, however, and she was soon up and about and nagging again in no time. Charlotte and I rued the end of our quiet civilised time together, discussing dinosaurs, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and the Isle of Wight heritage Facebook page.  All of us had some symptoms and all of us feel very fatigued but we could have had some other bug, for all we know.  Given I have some high risk factors (underlying health issues is the trendy term) I have to be especially careful.  "If you get it you will definitely die", said the Bat, delightedly. 

So what other things have happened to the Legatus in the last twelve months? Don't worry there is not now going to be 24 paragraphs of tedium. In fact, one of the good things about it being a year is that I can justify not going into any great detail as it has been so long, so:

Charlotte and the very Old Bat on the terrace of our hotel. Charlotte was allowed a Bellini but I had to have water.

  • We all went to Venice for the Old Bat's sixtieth birthday (it was too hot). 
  • Guy got his BA from Oxford Brookes and started a masters at Exeter University. This is costing a fortune, which hasn't helped the finances at all, as he doesn't get a student loan for the academic fees and we have to pay his third term's accommodation of £2500, even though he won't be going back.  Grr!
  • Charlotte slept a lot and lately has been growing plants and re-learning the recorder. So she tootles away playing Cantina Band, Harry Potter and Jurassic Park.
  • I went to Warsaw (again) and Beirut (for the first time) (it was too hot).  I really liked Beirut with nice food, superb wine and many lovely ladies, especially in and around the Parliament which is where I was based.

What a hoot!

  • I had an owl stuck in my study and we had to call animal rescue to rescue it. They filmed it all and wanted to put it on TV but the Old Bat had a sudden panic and rang them up to ask them not to show it as she had her old clothes on and hadn't tidied the house.

  • My sister got married for the first time and I had to give her away. Her husband is an otherwise estimable chap so I am not sure why he wanted to take my sister on but he has transformed her into a happy, jolly person who is rather less frightening than she used to be. 
  • I had my sixtieth birthday and the very next day, on my way down to Cowes, was called an OAP by the girl in the ferry ticket office. No party or presents though, due to the finances, having had to just pay £8000 towards Guys fees and accommodation..

Warriors of Rohan are currently under way

So, (he said, to annoy John Treadaway who hates that) what about wargaming? It is a long, long time since I had a wargame at Eric the Shed's but I am still buying the magazines and looking greedily at all the lovely new figures. How many times have I said that I have to rationalise? But I really do. A lot of figures are going to have to go. The key issue is space in my room. I don't have any and have random boxes all over the floor.  None of this has stopped me looking at more stuff, though.  I keep looking at all these new dark ages style fantasy plastics but think they are pointless for me given how many LotR figures I have. I am intrigued by Victrix's 12mm WW2 but will wait until they do, perhaps, North Africa as a lot less scenery is needed than for NW Europe. One thing I might give another whirl is Frostgrave, as they have released some solo scenarios for it and I picked up that and the rule book for free as a download. The magic aspect might be too complex for my simple mind though. Solo has got to be the way forward for me from now on, I think, so I am also looking at Rangers of Shadow Deep which has a solo play option, especially if I can use some of my LotR figures for it.

I bought into West Wind's War and Empire Dark Ages Kickstarter even though these are 15mm as I have started some tentative use of washes on my figures for the first time in fifty years of painting figures; notably on the Lord of the Rings figures I painted at the end of 2018,  It's still cheating, though.  I also used it a little on some Fireforge Byzantine archers which I had to finish before I went to Salute last year or I could not justify buying any more figures!

I have several Kickstartes still to arrive and at least one looks like it never will (Black Hallows townsfolk) but hope Jurassic World and Pirates of the Dread Sea will materialise. The worst one is Acheson creations Kongo Africa. I sent my survey in in December 2017 and haven't received a single thing. I will certainly never buy anything from them again. To me, now, they are the Chinese of the wargames world. I quite like some of the new plastic fauns and centaurs from Wargames Atlantic (to be fair they are not technically their figures) but they are made in China and I am now boycotting Chinese goods. 

I think that is enough rambling for what should have been one of my most enjoyable days of the year (and yes, as you may gather, I do blame the Chinese).  Having got this post out the way I hope to do some more increasingly blotchy painting and more blogging going forward.

As I am painting Lord of the Rings figures, today's music has to be Howard Shore's soundtrack music. My iTunes playlist of this is 21 hours and 35 minutes!

Bare back on a bearskin 

Today's wallpaper is by Delphin Enjolras (1857-1945) who originally started as a landscape painter before focussing almost exclusively on his favourite subject of women, usually depicted naked and lit in interesting ways.  All of his work was done in pastel rather than paint.