Monday, 18 January 2016

Curt's Painting Challenge - Themed Entry No.2 "The Artist Chance Card"


The second of Curt’s “Themed Rounds” in the Analogue Hobbies Sixth Painting Challenge is entitled “Epic Fail”. You may already have seen the wonderful entries HERE, on the Painting Challenge blog, and I am sure you will agree that the Challenge's participants have been incredibly inventive in what they’ve come up with.

I wanted to try and follow not only Curt’s theme of “Epic Fail”, but also make my second themed entry consistent with the first one I posted a couple of weeks ago. Here’s what I came up with … which is somewhat of a tribute to the vicissitudes of the Chance Card in wargaming.

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"Chance Card #20: One of your regiments is delayed arriving in the field owing to their commander's portrait being painted by the famous artist, Laarden van Rijn.

I've always loved introducing "Chance Cards" into my wargames. I think this is some deep-rooted memory from avidly reading Donald Featherstone's "Wargames Campaigns" and "Solo Wargaming" when I was a teenager. I loved the way that Chance Cards can dislocate even the best laid plans. A few years ago, we fought a seventeenth century battle and I added a Chance Card to the deck which forced one side to have a unit delayed reaching the battlefield as a result of the commander having his portrait painted by the famous Flemish painter, Laarden Van Rijn (a lesser known brushman than his more illustrious Dutch cousin).

I liked that card. It wasn't game breaking. It was a bit of fun. And it was clearly an “epic fail” in keeping with Curt’s theme, albeit quite in character for the "professionalism" of some historic Flemish commanders of the seventeenth century.



So, for this themed round, I planned on bringing that Chance Card to life.

We have the local civic militia, delayed in the Grote Markt while Mijnheer van Rijn prepares to paint his masterpiece. The cobblestones match the basing of the first Themed Round, and yes - the chickens pecking around the base of the statue of the Satyr have spread to this entry as well, clucking around the soldiers as they pose dramatically for the paintbrush. 


As befits a local militia, the soldiers have every variety of arms and armour, from classical helmets to flintlocks, from matchlocks and the Twelve Apostles to Flemish steel rapiers. Some are dressed in sober grey, others less conservatively.  And one, in the front rank, is dressed in a frankly gaudy costume – perhaps an ambitious younger son of a Flemish nobleman, out to impress his fellow citizens.

As for the inspiration, well I am sure you might have guessed that it is Rembrandt van Rijn’s incredible painting of “The Nightwatch”, featuring Captain Banning Cocq’s militia company passing out of the Amsterdam city walls in the 1650s. 


My late seventeenth century figures are too late to match Rembrandt’s, but I tried to capture the essence of movement and chaos in Rembrandt's incredible masterpiece. A jumble of soldiers, armed with all types of weapons, some carrying out the mechanisms of foot, some obviously preening in their flashy bright buff or red jackets.


Nothing I could do with a paintbrush could ever remotely rival Rembrandt, so I didn’t try. I did think of creating a tiny photo-shop version of Rembrandt's "The Nightwatch" on Laarden van Rijn’s easel, but I decided the barely-started sketch he's drawn is more in keeping with the theme of “Epic Fail”!



As I wanted to try and recreate a mixture of colours, I also did a plan of which figures were wearing what. This was pretty simple to do, but helped me a lot to keep track of the 12 different figures as I painted them last week.


The cobblestones are made from brass etch, available from Scalelink. They’re a little pricey, but arrived very quickly by post and are a lovely representation of North European paving. You can see paving like this in any Flemish of Dutch town. The figures are Wargames Foundry and Dixons, and the wonderful chickens are from Warbases. Laarden van Rijn, a Wargames Foundry figure, started life as a sedan chair passenger, but only last week did I find a perfect use for him. 


 
The flag is hand painted, and I thought that the Pelican (slightly comical, avaricious, but quite vicious when roused) would be a perfect civic symbol for this imaginary Flemish town in the final Indian summer of the Spanish Netherlands in the 1680s.  I love the flags being produced by various companies (such as GMB and Flags of War) at the moment, and they certainly save time. However, they sometimes are (to my mind) a little on the small side for what I want flying alongside my foot regiments.



I like making my own flags out of artist’s paper, and then gluing the two sides of the flag together (using Araldite expoy resin) and then folding the flag into shape before dry. A wash with PVA then seals the flag, making it robust enough for the wargames table and ready for undercoating and painting. The results are never as perfect as laser printing, but you do get the size of flag you want. And of course, if the flag is conjectural, or simply downright made up, you’re in a good place, rather than having to persuade the good people at GMB that “ ... there’s a flag I would really like, can you please help ..?” ! 

I scratch-built the easel and the pot of brushes which van Rijn is leaning for as he starts the painting. I didn't need to add much conversion work to the soldiers, but I did add a few greenstuff feathers and created the militia Captain’s ceremonial civic goblet (which came out more like a vase, if I’m honest!) from modelling putty.
 

I liked the idea of recurring themes and echoes running through the themed rounds.  Perhaps there'll be more chickens, discarded hats, pelicans and cobblestones in later submissions!  And who knows, perhaps that gaudily dressed nobleman's younger son might also re-appear ... 

37 comments:

  1. Beautiful work Sidney and extremely creative!

    Christopher

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  2. Brilliant piece, Sidney! Creative, interesting back story, and masterfully executed. Very well done!

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    1. Thanks Jonathan, very glad you like it!

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  3. Triumphant work my good man and all the better for seeing the 'making of' shots. Certainly my favourite this time round.

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    1. That's very kind Michael! No aliens, though ;)

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  4. It looks fantastic and what a great idea for a subject

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  5. Your usual standard of erudition, humour, artistry and creativity is met and then exceeded, Sidney. That is a gem of a piece because of the story it tells.

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    1. Michael, I am really very pleased you like it. That idea, of telling a story within the theme (or "themes") - well, let's just say that's kind of where I'm trying to get to...! More to come on that (hopefully)...

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  6. This is so awesome on so many levels. Nicely done!

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    1. Brian - thanks so much for dropping by, Sir! And thank you very much. Hope everything's well with you!

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  7. You're an artist, no doubt!

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    1. Ha! Not sure about that, but thank you anyway!

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  8. Super work and a really clever idea!

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  9. Way beyond good on so many levels.

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    1. Gary !!! Thanks so much - very kind, Sir!

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  10. Fantastic Sid.
    I am a bit worried that you might have missed a bit on the canvas :-)
    Cheers
    Stu

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    1. Ha ha! Like a scoundrel, I took refuge in "sketching" the canvas! I'm sure I missed more than a bit!

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  11. Oh my, I love your vignette! I'm in awe of your creativity.

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    1. Monty - very kind. But I should say that I have lost count of the times I've looked at the wonderful stuff you guys are creating over the Atlantic and been inspired by your own awesome work!

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  12. Oh my, I love your vignette! I'm in awe of your creativity.

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  13. Indeed a stunning diorama !!! Exellent paitwork and set-up !

    Best regards Michael

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    1. Thanks Michael. I'd be lying if I didn't add that all these figures will hopefully be perfect for "The Pikeman's Lament" :)

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    2. Indeed they would:) 12 man in a pike unit are the perfect number and as its important to know when a unit are half strengh the removal of one of the bases Will work very fine :)

      Looking forward to much more of your 17th century painting !

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  14. Beautiful and resourceful stuff Sydney.

    love the textured bases.

    Darrell.

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    1. Darrell, that's really kind, Sir! I loved your Hastings foot themed bases. You managed to get so much life into the figures, and I was trying to get the same feel here.

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  15. Very artistic and well done Sidney!

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    1. Thanks Phil - and thanks for dropping by! Great to see you!

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  17. That is simply out of this world. I've seen the painting once, but now, I prefer to see your model instead. Magnificent work Sidney! :)

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    1. Thanks so much, Thanos! I really appreciate that!

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  18. What a splendid piece of art!
    Simply sublime.

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