Starting the new year off right

An overall glimpse at a portion (the tidy corner) of my painting table.  The nearly finished Hibernia Regiment fusiliers, the barely started Grenadiers and the 54mm Abraham Lincoln in the background.

An overall glimpse at a portion (the tidy corner) of my painting table. The nearly finished Hibernia Regiment fusiliers, the barely started Grenadiers and the 54mm Abraham Lincoln in the background.

We’re nearly two weeks into the new year, and it feels like time is racing by. Even so, I feel like I’m in one of those creative zones, when I can’t wait to paint in the evening, and on the weekends I can easily put in three or four hours a day. I’m nearly finished with the fusilier company from the Hibernia Regiment, an Irish “wild geese” unit that served in the Spanish army, and periodically made its way to America. They appear quite different from the other Spanish units because of its red coat and yellow tricorne lace. Eleven figures.

A tighter view of the Hibernia figures front

A tighter view of the Hibernia figures front

Another view of the Hibernians from the back

Another view of the Hibernians from the back

I have the Hibernia’s grenadier company next up on the painting docket, and then I’m goind to take a quick little departure from Louisiana. I’m going to paint up the 54mm Imrie Risley figure I’ve had of Abraham Lincoln for some time. I glued him to a base and primed him up. I’ve begun working with the black base coat that will be most of his attire. The challenge is to take this simply dressed figure and somehow make it come to life, either by focusing on his face, or lots of shading and highlighting. I’m not quite sure which route to take.

Imrie Risley's Abraham Lincoln.  I've only just begun working on Abe.  Expect to see a finished version and more 54's as the year goes on.

Imrie Risley’s Abraham Lincoln. I’ve only just begun working on Abe. Expect to see a finished version and more 54’s as the year goes on.

Unfortunately my excellent progress may be a bit stymied for a week as we cruise into deadline. Probably no painting Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Then on Saturday Lorri and I take some time away, board the dogs and spend Saturday and Sunday in the little town of Stevenson down on the Columbia River.

2013, the Year in Review

London War Room Cuera mounted Spanish militia.  Used on the frontier mainly to fight Comanches and Apaches, they are a large mounted element in my Louisiana project

London War Room Cuera mounted Spanish militia. Used on the frontier mainly to fight Comanches and Apaches, they are a large mounted element in my Louisiana project

It’s been a different year for me.  I tend to be fairly reclusive and hide in my house up on the hill.  Well, that didn’t change, but even so it’s been an interesting year.

My most important measure of the year is always what did I get done vs. what did I buy.  Normally I’m a pretty careful purchaser of lead. In years past I accumulated big piles of lead against future projects.  Bladensburg is an example of this.  I bought four boxes of Victrix figures three years ago, and only just finished almost all of them.  I have more painted Hundred Years War figures than any of other era with about 700 figures painted.  But I have at least that many unpainted. So, as with many of my friends and miniature wargaming colleagues, I’m a figure whore.  I’ve been better over the years.

I have painting goals of 400-600 figures per year.  These get harder to reach every year.  I tend to spend a little less time painting each year.  In years past I’d guess I painted an hour and half a night 320 nights per year. A bit longer on the weekends.  I would guess I’m down to about 250 days of painting per year.  Why?  My work schedule-newspaper deadline nights makes it tougher.  I have more fatigue–I don’t sleep particularly well many nights so I’m just too tired to paint.  Some nights I’ll just plop myself down in a chair and read.  But there are times when I really, really enjoy what I’m painting and I’ll paint until I’m just too tired to go on.  7:00-9:00 p.m. is my painting prime time, but I often am all in by about 8:30. I’ll have the Mariners on, unless I’m really frustrated with them, or the season is over, or be watching something on Netflix and just paint away.

I didn’t keep up with my painting log this year.  Tried, but just fell off the wagon.  My guess, however is that I didn’t meet my goals.  I believe I finished the year with about 350 painted figures.  There are a couple of reasons for that.  One is the fewer hours devoted to painting.  Another is that I only paint 28mm figures now.  No more 15’s, so no more cheapies.  I count a figure as a figure.  No bonuses for mounted figures, no bonus for extra size or extra effort. A tank, a 1/285 airplane, a cannon model, a terrain piece are all equal to a figure. So I fell short of my goal.

I’m going to keep my painting goal for 2014 right at 400.  I’d like to think my painting can be equal to about one figure per day. I fully expect my work will be mostly 28mm figures, but I may reinvigorate my DBA projects and try to at least paint a few of the six or seven armies I have.  Most of all my time will be spent working on my Louisiana Project.  I probably have about 200 or so figures left to paint.  I find them pretty fun to do, and they paint up fairly quickly, even the mounted figures.  However, I don’t have a deadline with them.  They don’t have to be done until they’re done.  It will allow me to drag something else out to work on, whether those are my Irish Civil War figures, some AWI units, my 1/600 ACW ships, or something else. My Enfilade obligations are largely painted, though I still have a bit more fiddling to do for Bladensburg.

Cuera were multi-armed with lance, shield, carbine and pistols.  So burdened, they were often unable to keep up with their more lightly armed enemies.

Cuera were multi-armed with lance, shield, carbine and pistols. So burdened, they were often unable to keep up with their more lightly armed enemies.

Two items I definitely want to work on aren’t particularly wargame related.  A couple years ago I bought the Perry “Death of Gordon” vignette from their Sudan range.  I love the movie Khartoum and admired the G.W. Joy painting the vignette is based on.  It is something a little bit different to work on, and I’m preparing it on my work table now.  The other item I really want to paint is a 54mm Imrie-Risley figure of Abraham Lincoln I’ve had for quite some time. I actually a lot of the “big boys” stowed away for quite some time, and some day I hope to paint them in my dotage.  I’m an admirer of Lincoln.  He is my favorite president, both for his principles and his ability to work within a greater understanding of what was needed to get things done.  Because Lincoln dressed very simply, usually in black, the challenge will be to bring life to the figure.

Something I didn’t do a great job of is managing my buying this year.  I was pretty good until August.  I earned some extra money for my work at J-Camp, and I promptly started spending like a drunken sailor.  Figures for the Louisiana project, the Perry Volunteers of Ireland, some War of 1812 Americans, command figures for the British for Bladensburg, and more I can’t even remember.  My goal is to at least break even with figure purchases-no more figures purchased than painted.  I don’t know if I did that this year.  I purchased some figures for Bladensburg, but many were for sheer spec, and I don’t like to do that.  My purchases should be for “just in time” production purposes and I feel like I failed.

These figures are armed with carbine or escopeta.  These figures are a bit crude, but highly paintable.  I really enjoyed working on them.

These figures are armed with carbine or escopeta. These figures are a bit crude, but highly paintable. I really enjoyed working on them.

I have a couple of New Years resolutions.  The first is to set some painting goals.  I would really like to finish all of my Louisiana figures.  There’s not really a deadline on this.  I’d like to run a game at Enfilade, but honestly I probably already have enough figures to do it now.  Realistically I’d like to have everything done by Drumbeat in September. I have nearly all the figures to do this.  I think I need a few more of the mounted Cuera militia, and a few more foot officers.   I think this also leaves me some time to pick away at some other painting along the way.  I have an AWI unit or two I’d like to paint.  Maybe some of my Irish Civil War figures.  Ships.  Planes.  My dance card is wide open.

My second resolution regards game play.  I don’t do nearly enough.  Mostly it’s my choice, so I am putting my choices out on right now. I want to play at the Game Matrix DBA nights twice per month.  My hope is I can morph that into a bit more than DBA, focusing on DBX gaming.  I’d love to, for example, play Sluys again.  In addition I’d like to commit to playing on the NHMGS game days the third Saturday of the month.  These are absolute musts for a couple of reasons.  First, I need to get off my damned hill and get with my gamer friends.  Don’t know why I’ve been so reclusive.  I also have way too much time and energy invested in my projects to not be playing with my figures.  I know I can do better.  It’s as though I’ve just become a bit of a hermit.

In any case, 2014 is shaping up to be a good year, and I’m looking forward to it.

At last, summer break

Today is the day all teachers look forward to: the beginning of summer vacation.  My duties at school will end at about 1:00 this afternoon.  All the grades are submitted, my classroom is nearly cleaned.  Things are coming along nicely.  Actually, I’ve voluntarily delayed my summer beginnings by a day because I’ve opted for a class tomorrow morning, but the end is clearly in my crosshairs.

So what does that mean for game projects this summer.  First of all, there are the Truants, our summer game group that will meet every other Friday at the Game Matrix.  That should allow me to get some gaming in at least every other week.  I promised to host an ACW naval game some time in July so I better figure it out.

Lorri is currently unemployed and she has some duties for me to perform.  We have two major room renovations we’re doing, but I’m hoping those might be done by July 1st.  I’ve also taken organizing the WJEA Journalism summer camp.  This work has already started, but not much so far.  It will doubtless kick into high gear next week as student applications begin piling in.

I’m most interested in my painting projects, however.  The big game on my horizon is Bladensburg for Enfilade.  Here are the units I need to paint for this game

Three British line units @ 32 figures each

One British light infantry unit @ 48 figures

One American militia unit @ 24 figures

One American line unit @ 24 figures

My goal is to pare this list down considerably.  I’m in the middle of painting the militia unit, and could probably have them done in a few days IF I can make myself focus a bit more on painting.  I’d like to turn to the British line units.  Victrix figures, ugh.  I’ve started doing some assembly, but there is considerably more to do.  If possible I’d like to complete all three units before our first deadline begins in October.  To keep myself interested I’ll also be working on other projects.  I have some HYW French knights, foot and mounted, on the painting table, as well as a few planes and some 15mm fantasy figures I’d like to get done as well.

Yesterday my order of Spanish figures arrived from Dayton Painting Services.  I really like these figures, and I’ll offer up a review in the next few days.

Just For Fun

I’m usually a very focused painter, but I’m taking a little break to do some fun stuff.  Ever since Enfilade (last May) I’ve been a good boy and painted figures for the Hundred Years War and the War of 1812.  All in all some 50 HYW figures and 56 War of 1812 figures.  I’ve decided to just do some stuff that is fun and different.

Old Glory Crossbowmen may be my last HYW figures until after the first of the year. These are the last of the crossbow figures I have and fight in the vanguard at Poitiers. Hope to finish basing them today or tomorrow.

These 30 Black Raven orc archers will make six Sk stands and six Bw stands. Nice start on what I hope will be progress on Orcs for the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.

First, I’m going to paint up some 15mm orcs.  Yes, orcs.  I’ve been hanging on to a bunch of 15mm fantasy figures for many years.  They’re intended to help me portray the Battle of the Pelennor Fields from the Lord of the Rings.  I just cranked out 30 archers.  I’ll be using a DBx basing for the stands, and will combine the figures for Bw and Sk.  I have loads more to paint, and am pleased to get a start on them.  My Rohan army is already complete, so I’m anxious to have somebody to run against.  I think I have all the figures I need except for the Black Raven Foundry Witch King figure.

Collectair Lancasters with their base “earth” paint job. The color scheme isn’t real difficult with the earth, green and black basics. It’s getting every thing to line up properly that’s tricky.

I’m also preparing to paint five 1/300 Collectair Lancaster bombers from WWII.  They’re primed and I hope to finish painting them over the Thanksgiving holiday.  Four are armed with the Tallboy bombs used to sink the Tirpitz in Norway in 1944.  They aren’t super challenging to paint, but they do have some pretty straight lines to manage.  I’ll do my best.  I’m even assembling nine (9!!) C in C Ki-61 Tony fighters I picked up at the NHMGS auction and there hasn’t been one of those in years and years.  It’s kind of fun to revisit this old, old stuff and make something happen with it.

The C in C Tonys are little gems. Assembly is super easy. I’ll paint five up as home defense fighters from a “ramming” squadron. Fun stuff eh. Become a fighter pilot. Ram a B-29. The rest will be interceptors defending the empire.

Crappy pictures courtesy of my iPhone.

I still have plenty of War of 1812 and HYW figures on my radar.  I’ve still got 20 French men-at-arms partially painted that I’ll tackle-when I feel like it.  Just can’t face dealing with heraldry right now.  I also have twenty Maryland militia artillery primed.  Probably sooner rather than later.  But right now I just need to have some fun by doing something different.