After charging ahead with my 1809 Spanish Army for a while, everything screeched to a halt in November - to a large extent this was simply because an illness in the family left me with very little spare time, but it was also a consequence of what I am now rather ashamed to refer to as The Great Sulk - of which I shall say more later.
Today I am delighted to welcome the first newly painted Spanish unit of the year - this is the 3rd of what will be 4 Foot Artillery batteries suitable for 1809. These were excellently painted by my rather shadowy friend Francisco Goya (does he paint in a mask? - hmmm), and they are not only a valuable addition to the available forces, but also (I hope) an important step towards ending the Sulk.
The figures are mostly by GB Miniatures, one of the Hagen family of 1/72 makers (mastered by the estimable Massimo), with a couple of NapoleoN boys and one Falcata. The guns are Hagen's own.
One slightly tricky aspect of putting together a gun-crew is the combination of poses - I try to make this sensible, but manufacturers are very enthusiastic about having the rammers ramming, the firers firing etc - everybody depicted doing what it is he does - but having them all do it at the same time would upset the Health & Safety boys more than a little. I'm not too fussy about this - I have enough artillery crews of old Minifigs and similar which made a point of having the rammer portrayed making an attempt to have his arms blown off, so getting snippy about it at this stage would be rather silly. I do try to keep an eye on things, though.
Ah, well. You see, last year I suddenly found myself in the position where I was going to have to go back to doing all my own painting, and this after a period when I had been using the services of painters who were both quicker and far more skilful than I. I decided the only thing to do was to bite the bullet and crack on, by myself, so as not to lose momentum (momentum, at my age, being a precious thing).
I did pretty well, painting away, good-style, and listening to a lot of Fauré, but I was obviously going to need more outside support in the painting department. I renewed my acquaintance with Philgreg, the painting service based in Sri Lanka.
I had previous with Philgreg - I had found that they produced an acceptable result (unbelievably cheaply, even allowing for postage costs) if I provided an exact painted sample of what I wanted - I would get back pretty good facsimiles of what I sent them. The occasions when things went a bit wonky were when I required them to work from verbal descriptions, or - I suspect - when they were unusually busy, when an observable dip in quality suggested to me that some of the painting crew were less experienced, or fringe players in a team pool. My first attempts to get Philgreg involved again last year went pretty well - I required them only to provide rank-and-file, in fairly simple uniforms, and the amount of rework I had to do to get the finished figures to a decent quality was acceptable - the cost of the outsource work was good for the effort saved. If they produced 85%-finished figures, it was worth the money.
Their approach is businesslike, and the main man (Philip) is helpful and easy to deal with. The idea is that they send you photos of samples, to show you how your shipment is progressing, to make sure you are happy. Apart from a rather high proportion of broken figures, this went OK - for the first such shipment. Then - lulled into a foolish over-confidence - I sent a rather more complicated job.
First ominous sign was I got no sample pictures, and got no progress report at all until I chased them. The figures arrived back, painted, and they weren't good. One battalion took me about a week of evenings to rescue, but it turned out well. The other battalion that came back was worse. In all honesty, they aren't really so bad - I reckon that another week of fairly dedicated evenings would put them into very good shape indeed, but somehow I haven't been able to bring myself to do it. I have been more depressed by this (relatively minor) reverse than I should have been - I have put the figures, on their bottletops, carefully in a box, ready to start work, and then I have hidden in a hole in the ground. I have found Other Things to Do. Sulking. Lamentable behaviour.
With this new artillery unit I hope I can get myself motivated again - a good slap around the head, a cup of decent coffee, some appropriate painting music on the old Bose and I should be back in business. There you are - I've said it on the blog - I'm duty bound to shape up now.