Yeah, I know it has been a long time since my last posting. And to make matters even worse, this posting isn’t even of a wargaming nature!
I’ve got some figures on order from the UK to complete the big battalion of 18th century infantry that I have been working on. However, they must be caught up in the current supply chain problems, as they are a month or so late now (especially considering the first half of the unit that I ordered earlier in the year made its way here to New Zealand in a matter of days).
So whilst I’m waiting, I’ve decided to give a new pastime a go. I’ve always quite fancied painting a landscape, but have never really had the time. So, armed with a new box of artists’ acrylic paints and three blank canvases, I’ve made a start into this sideline hobby.
Oh, don’t worry, I’m not giving up wargaming! With retirement due at the end of the year, I’ll have more than enough time for two hobbies.
My first painting was inspired by this lovely photograph of the Tararua Ranges as seen from the Wairarapa side, which I saw in an online newspaper travel feature (oddly, in a British online paper, The Guardian!). I really liked how it portrayed so much in one deceptively simple scene.
Because of the long shape of the three canvases I had bought, my painting would need to based on just the middle third of the photo. But I thought this might give a really cool forced perspective effect, with the road and telegraph poles, rolling fields, foothills and mountains in layers, one above the other.
I worked from the top down. I found the mountains worked well, and was especially pleased with the folds in the hills and the misty effect at the bottom of the foothills. Whilst the end result is quite different from the photo, I guess that’s what the phrase “artist’s licence” means!
My road is not quite as bumpy as the photo either. In hindsight it would’ve been more interesting if I had tried to copy some of the bumps. And I wish now that I had left out every second telegraph pole, as I think there are too many of them.
Nevertheless, for a first effort at landscape painting, I was happy. I think the forced perspective that I had really wanted to recreate from the photo worked very well.
Having painted one mountain scene, I decided that my other two paintings would also be of mountains so as to make a series, and would feature other places that my wife and I love here in New Zealand.
My wife was actually away on a skiing weekend with her friend, so I picked the mountain where she had gone, Mount Ruapehu. OK, she wasn’t staying in the lovely Chateau Tongariro (she was staying in a much more modest ski lodge), but it is such an iconic scene of Ruapehu, so that is what I chose to paint.
Again, I worked from the top down. The mountain and its lower slopes worked OK, though maybe the lighting is bit odd, as if something is shining from behind the second and third ridges. However, that effect does add some drama to the painting.
I loved doing the Chateau. I guess having made so many wargames buildings, I’m a bit of a detail man. And I love how its angular lines are such a contrast to the irregular shape of the volcano looming above it.
For the last of my three paintings, I decided to portray one of my wife and I’s favourite places in New Zealand – Queenstown. Its backdrop of the rugged Remarkables Range would continue my mountains theme.
There was also the added bonus of being able to try my hand at painting water, and also depicting the gorgeous old lake steamer, the TSS ‘Earnslaw’. This was going to be fun!
I tried something quite different with the mountains this time, using somewhat different colours than what you would usually think for snowy mountains. I also tried out a poster-like effect with lots of hard edges to the ridges and valleys.
The trees were fun, especially that Norfolk pine on the right. But, as I suspected it would be, my favourite part was painting the old Lady of the Lake, the ‘Earnslaw’. And, boy, I’m pleased with how she turned out.
The water worked quite well too. I was especially happy with the slight reflection of the steamer, though this was really the result of a ‘happy little accident’ than an actual planned part of the painting!
So here they are, the three paintings of my ‘Mountains Triptych’, which fit nicely above our mantelpiece. And you can see that one member of our family seems suitably impressed!
By the way, the other painting hanging on the wall to the right isn’t one of mine, but was a birthday present from some years ago. And, no, those aren’t wargaming houses on the mantlepiece, but glossy porcelain souvenirs from our travels to the UK and Europe!
Now, hurry up with my British fusiliers, Mr Deliveryman – I want to finish that big battalion!