A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Portuguese Artillery

Another new vehicle takes its place in the cupboard. This is a Portuguese howitzer on the march, circa 1811. Mules are by Jacklex, limber is Lamming, the gun is (I think) S-Range Minifigs, and the driver is from Kennington.

The British caisson which is officially next in the queue is on hold while I sort out my stock of horses; it is painted but awaiting final assembly while I put together a sensibly-scaled team.

This morning I finally lost patience with my collection of brushes, and weeded out the ones I don't use any more. I've never understood paintbrushes. In the days of Humbrol, I used to wash them out in Polyclens and similar - I realise I was supposed to use an exotic patent thinner, or turpentine, but neither of these ever seemed to work properly. Polyclens was very like using battery acid to wash your brushes, and I just got into the habit of replacing them frequently. Mostly I used cheap, short-handled brushes from the model shop - sometimes Humbrol's own brand, sometimes unnamed products at half the price, which may well have come from the same factory. Maybe even from the same cat...

In these enlightened days of acrylics, the whole operation is much more like watercolour, and - possibly incorrectly - I have developed the idea that I should pay the extra and obtain good brushes - even buying the posh stuff from my local art shop. The results have not been brilliant. At any given moment, I probably have about 2 dozen brushes in total, of which about one quarter will currently be behaving nicely. I tend to have a few brushes - a couple of size 0's and some larger ones - which are producing a decent point today. I try to look after them correctly, periodically curing them in hot water and lipping the points like a good chap, but it is a haphazard regime. This morning my favourite lining brush decided to start misbehaving, and it is almost like losing a close friend - very disconcerting.

I don't think I have ever noticed a reliable correlation between the marketed "quality" of a brush and its performance. Top of the range sables from the art shop often have a mind of their own as soon as they get wet, while I have had years of good service from the occasional 2nd quality cheapo from Modelworld.

Biggest disappointment of the lot was a load of unused squirrel brushes which we found amongst my late father's painting paraphenalia (he was a very capable amateur watercolourist, and only ever bought the best of everything) - admittedly they must have been 20 years old, but they disintegrated into dust as soon as they were touched, so maybe squirrel brushes have a definite shelf life. Or maybe this batch came from squirrels which suffered from mange.


  1. Very nice figure and nicely painted. Squirrels with mange??? I bet Foundry could make a few quid out of them!!

  2. For years i had very mixed results with all sorts of brands of brush until i settled on W&N Series 7 Kolinsky sable. I buy then online from artdiscount.co.uk (they're the only brush i'd buy sight unseen - i've never had a bad one). I'd also recomend a specialist artists brush cleaner - i use chroma 'incredible brush cleaner' as the final stage of brush cleaning. It's powerful stuff, it'll even rescue a brush that has set solid. Cheers.

  3. Ray - thank you, sir - what I would describe as an unpretentious painting style! I suppose one message we might take from the tale of my dad's brushes is that any 20+ year old squirrels should probably comb their hair pretty carefully.

    DC - thanks for that - the online shop is impressive - I have set up an account, and ordered brushes and cleaner. I am, as you see, a marketing man's dream.


  4. My commiserations on your squirrels Foy.

    You've put me in mind of my Portuguese, who have need of guns.

  5. I get my brushes from Doug at EM4:


    I find they're about the best I've come across so far.