Sunday, December 30, 2007

Vacation work

One thing I wanted to do over the holiday was redo my studio. I had plans for a new work surface and needed to create a space for my new toy (Taig lathe). I finished up this afternoon. Over the years I've discovered that I cannot work amidst too much chaos. Another goal was to create a space that could be dedicated to photography. Hopefully, I'll be better about taking IP photos with this setup. My wife got me a portable photog studio that is looking very promising. I'm very happy with the way things have come together with the new studio. I think that it's more workable than before, even though the main workbench really didn't change that much. The fact is, that part worked fine anyway.

We're doing a New Year's Eve party this year. Our first in a few years. It should be a good time. We're planning on ten guests, no kids and a little bit of cheer. New Year's day will be spent recovering and eating the traditional black-eyed peas.

Progress continues on a handful of sculpts and one paintjob. I think I've gotten over a hurdle with a master I've been working on for way too long. Hopefully, things will continue positively. Photos next time. I've been looking more and more at Cool Mini or Not. I'm fascinated with the ideas on this site. There are some historical figures there too. I really like the Sci-fi figures and dioramas I see there. I think I'm going to do a few Sci-fi pieces soon. I feel a little odd that the characters I'm considering have no root in any body of work, but there's freedom in that too. I just don't want to have to explain what it it's supposed to be to anyone. More on this in the future.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Holiday Season

I have good deal of time off over the Christmas break. We plan to enjoy it more than usual this year. For the first time in a long time, we'll be free from visiting obligations this year. I have few projects in the hopper that I hope to spend some quality time with over the break. I'm well into the sculpting the characters for my shadow box of "Big Bad John" as written by Jimmy Dean. This will be my first try at such a project. I hope it measures out to what I see in my head. The figures seem to be going well. I'd like to do some other folk heroes in the future.

If you're not given to sentimentality, you can stop reading here. This season almost always fills me with nostalgia. In Sunday school today we were asked to discuss someone outside of our immediate family that had shown us love, this being the fourth Sunday of advent. I couldn't help being reminded of my Grandpa Crisp. Discussing my Grandma would have been a no-brainer. Her love for me was so simple and unconditional, I could have done little wrong in her eyes. My Grandpa was a different story. Our relationship was somewhat contentious, if not outwardly so. My demands on my Grandma for useless junk at the toy store must have been a constant source of frustration for him. If for no other reason than it was given out of proportion to his other grandkids. After I became older and needed work, I went to work for him is his television repair shop. It was a token job that paid enough to keep a fourteen year old interested. I don't think he expected much from me in the way of initiative. Time went on and I did the best I knew how. He found out I was a quick study and liked to stay busy. Over the next five years my responsibilities grew with my ability. Without any real intention he and I became immeasurably close. He was a Navy veteran of WWII, and was there at Leyte Gulf as well as other engagements. He told me that one of his proudest moments was piping Admiral Halsey aboard the USS Bon Homme Richards.

Well, one of my proudest moments came while I was working for him; It had been a very slow summer for business. Money was tight and I had been told that payday was going to be delayed as there just wasn't money to pay everyone. I could accept that. Then we got a couple of phone calls. A service call for poor reception at an apartment complex, and an install job at another. He needed to stay and run the store and my Uncle was away that day. The work was too good to turn down, and besides, these were faithful customers. I was pretty fresh to be working on my own at that level. My Grandpa had faith in me though. He sent me on both jobs. One I did in the morning and the other that same afternoon. I was dripping wet by the end of that hot July day. I brought in enough money to make payroll. It was my work that did it. I was seventeen years old. I couldn't have done it without knowing what I learned from working there and wouldn't have been sent if one man hadn't had confidence in me. A day rarely passes that I don't think about him and how he shaped me into who I have become. In that spirit, I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Learing the craft

No photos this time around. I just thought I'd share a handful of thoughts I hope to turn into lessons. I'm working on a master that has given me considerable difficulty. It's not a difficult pose, or subject. For some reason it has been a source of frustration and adversity. So far I haven't drawn blood over it. I have learned several things about anatomy and how it applies to this hobby. There's a lot written about proportions and balance and how to pose a figure etc.. I try to apply this as much as possible. Sometimes however no matter how many times you measure and remeasure, there is something visibly wrong. Now, what I've figured out is, the human body is more dynamic than we might imagine. Also, it makes a difference where you take your measurements. Take them the same place every time and take them from the same place as they're taken from your template. Arms and shoulder have been a significant source of trouble for me in the past and I hope to apply some of the lessons of this past few months to something tangible.

I've been digging around on the Cool Mini or Not site lately. The folks that model fantasy sci-fi figures geared toward the gamer are some of the most creative and artistic figure models I believe I've ever seen. Technique notwithstanding, they are visually inspiring. I'm not particularly drawn to this corner of the hobby myself. I find the proportions of these figures a little off-putting. I have to admit that I greatly admire the creativity I see here. I sometimes wonder if this part of the hobby I currently enjoy will be replaced by this genre, much the same way our genre supplanted toy soldier collecting a couple of generations ago. Not that it would be a bad thing. Evolution of the hobby I guess.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Veteran's Day

Today is Veteran's day. Hat's off to all the veterans of past, present and future. I have the deepest admiration for those in this country who have served in the military. Personally, I never served. It wasn't something that was done by many I grew up with. I can only think of one or two of the guys I went to school with that joined the military. I'm somewhat envious of the feeling of fraternity that veteran's enjoy with one another. Even the friendly rivalry between the services is fraternal. So, hat's off to all you vets and I hope you enjoyed the day the country has set aside to honor your service.

On the model building front, I feel like I've emerged from a hole recently. I've been frustrated with some of my efforts lately. That said, some recent studio time has broken the spell, if you will. I recently received the excellent book by Danillo Cartacci from Colorado Miniatures. This is a great book. I adapted the technique for painting faces to something I'm working on and I'm very pleased with the result.

I also got back to a long term project that I envisioned a couple of years ago. Not gonna reveal the subject yet. Here are two of at least three figure that will be in the diorama. Hopefully the project will build some momentum and it'll actually see light of day before I go gray.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Looking to the fall

This is my favorite season. I've been able to get back at the bench with more regularity than I have in a long time. I'm working on a pair of GI's for HeLo and a Pawnee scout for Der Bunte Rock. They are both winding down and I'm down to fiddly bits. The GIs are going very well. The Pawnee gave a bit of trouble because of the difficulty I had with creating the Spencer Carbine. That's past now and things are moving ahead.

The MMSI had their Chicago show last weekend. It was a tremendous success. I truly enjoy the trip across Illinois to the show each year. This year, Ron Hilker joined Ander and me for the trip. We had a great time. I was lucky enough to earn two golds this year. The best I've ever done at Chicago. The medals themselves are important only in that it helps me measure where I stand and how much I've improved compared to past years. I also want to keep up with pack. I feel I had some of my best work there this year. I always enjoy getting a critique from fellow modelers. I got my annual advice from Greg Difranco, which I greatly appreciate. Greg displayed my personal favorite in the show with a flat placed in a shadowbox. Tremendous paint job. Two other strong contenders in my eyes were the BOS winner by Mike Blank, and a neat boxcar by Dan Tisoncik. The latter was so packed with action inside it was difficult to take it all in. Probably the highlight of the show was the selling of a major collection of Bill Horan pieces. This was some of Bill's best work. Two or three dioramas, and a handful of ballplayers, and a lot of ACW and British Victorians. He is a true master of the medium. Dand Tisoncik was the newest Chicago Medalist.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Ushering in Autumn

I'm coming off one of the busiest summers I've ever had. Me and the boy have been busy with many BSA activities. He went to a leadership training week and both of us were inducted into OA. We finally got our boat out of the shop after getting a new steering cable. After that we went to the lake with vengeance. I did manage to slalom for the first time in about twenty years. I had to kick off a ski, but nonetheless. We're leaving the boat in the water until the leaves turn. It's our intention to take a fall boatride and look at the foliage. My wife's birthday is coming up and we're gonna try out a new restaurant on Branson Landing.

On the modelling front. Anders and I finally got HeLo Miniatures off the ground and things seem to be fairly positive. Anders has done the lions share of the work on this and I think he's done a great job. Casting is getting better and there are several masters in the bank. I started a couple of GIs this week myself.

Life is settling down a bit now that we're in the groove of another school year. Kathi has taken on another job to help out a friend who's going through a bout with breast cancer. Hopefully she'll be able to slow down a bit after the Christmas holidays. I hope to update with some more regularity.


Friday, July 20, 2007

Ten days in the backcountry

Well, this installment has little to do with figure modelling. Our Boy Scout troop just got back from a ten day 60 mile trek in Sangre de Cristo mountains of New Mexico. This is one of the High Adventure destinations for Boy Scouts. It was a very satisfying, rewarding experience. I never describe these types of things as fun. Of course, we did have fun. The fun was punctuated by difficulty and hardship. The challenges of carrying four days food, sleeping on the ground and going to the bathroom outdoors were the day-to-day challenges our crew dealt with. Some of the more difficult things were hiking 8 miles in a day, dealing with daily rain and thunderstorms, and climbing steep inclines toward peaks reaching nearly 12,000 feet. These difficulties are also some of the most rewarding things to have accomplished. Watching the boys dig deep and find something that they didn't know they had was the most rewarding experience of the entire journey. I was terribly proud of my fourteen year old son. Barely old enough to go and the smallest in the crew, he did a great job and overcame a few fears and hardships. We had some emotional times. Some of the fun things we did included, horseback riding, shooting black powder rifles, rock climbing, trapping and tomahawk throwing. I looked forward to this whole trip with some trepidation. After the hike began, I found that I was "in the moment" and rarely missed home. Now that the trip is over, I find that it has become an indellible memory that I'll reflect on fondly for years to come. Hopefully soon I'll have a slideshow of the trip for those of you that are interested.

The picture shows our crew: rear l-r; Austin Whitworth, Robert Mahaffey middle; JD Mahaffey, Nick Vollmar, Ian Loyd, JB Long, myself front; Ken Vollmar.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Overcoming inertia

There's a phenomenon that we kid each other about at work. We call it severe gravity distress syndrome. The theory behind it goes something like this; there is a microscopic black hole on the seat of everyone's chair and if that person ever sits down the vortex keeps that person orbiting the event horizon for eternity. Practically speaking, when you sit down you don't want to get back up. It takes considerable motivation in order to get up and do any beneficial work. I get that way about the hobby sometimes. The other night I watched a boring ball game knowing I had a few things I could be doing in the studio. At bedtime I went to shut everything down and stopped in the studio to look at a project. Seeing a couple of flaws, I proceeded to take care of business. Before I knew it, I had been in there 45 minutes. How much could I have gotten done if I had sat in my studio chair instead of my easy chair?

I moved all of my figures from two cabinets in the family to one larger one in the office. Thematically it works out better because the office is nearer the studio. The cabinet is nicer and lighter. I can see things a little better. I looked over some of my first dioramas and figures. Oooooh, not good. I keep them out though. I like looking at them no matter how amateurish they look. They remind me of a time when I was most enthusiastic about learning new things. There's a real timeline there.

Workbench update;

I have finished up the basework for the sci-fi dude. I'm about to complete one of the OIF figures I had started a while back. Anders copied a few heads I sculpted and I was very pleased with the results. One 54mm head is particulary good if I say so myself. One of the 1/35 heads is better than the other, but both are pretty good. I'm working on a Pawnee scout for Der Bunte Rock and I expect that it'll be one of those figure that goes on its energy and one day I'll finish it without realizing I've spent much time working on it.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

I can't believe how quickly time passes sometimes. Last weekend was the Tulsa show. It was a bit smaller than in the past, but still high quality as usual. Some key regulars weren't there, but they were offset by a couple of surprises, and several newcomers. The work of Doug Cohen, Fletcher Clement, Chris Mrosko was missed. Bob Bethea, also absent was represented on the table however. I usually go down on Friday afternoon, but didn't make it until Friday evening this time. I felt like I missed so many folks in the short weekend. I judged again and this is a great way to learn and also to insure that you get a very good look at all the displays. The miner I did was well received and earned a Gold medal along with the Royal Horse Artillery. Joe Hudson was elected the newest Tulsa Medalist and Jason Green won his second BOS. Jason's work has to be seen to be appreciated. It looks good in pictures, but in person one can appreciate the smooth finish and subtle but well contrasted color pallette. Hopefully the work Kevin Wheeler and others put in to the photography will show up on the web soon.

I've been trying to train for a 50 mile hike that my son and I will soon take. His Boy Scout troop is sending a handful of us to Philmont Scout Ranch for a ten day trek. I have a nagging knee injury that's dragging me down a lot. I've been eating ibuprofin like candy and icing the thing as much as I can stand.

Workbench update. I finished my part of the joint project with Kreston. I have to say that I enjoyed the bulkheads and deck the most enjoyable. I could fiddle the thing to death and finally had to say enough is enough. I think I'll do something similar to the Sci-Fi piece I worked on earlier. I'm back on the modern figures I started a while back, and the Pawnee I started about the same time. I doubt if I'll get a chance to get anything else ready before Chicago in the fall. We'll see though.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Closing out a hard week

Just finished a rough week. Our SORT just went through our yearly recertification. It's three days of written, practical and physical testing. I'm always glad when it's over. We have a barbecue at a friend's house and have a few beers. We're having a little get together at our house for family to celebrate Memorial Day. It should be fun. The Tulsa show is very near and I'm as ready as I'll be. I'll have five pieces this year and what I think is one of my best displays ever.

Workbench update; I just finished off the miner I sculpted. I think it could be one of my best pieces ever. I didn't capture the look I wanted, but it's close enough, and I'm very pleased with the result. I can now get back to some sculpting projects. The Pawnee Scout will get top priority, with a couple of modern guys close behind. My collaboration with Kreston Peckham will also get some attention. The deck and bulkheads are what I have left. I have a couple of problems to solve first, but then it should go smoothly.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Been a while

It's been a while since my last update. A lot has happened since my last entry. Not much in the miniature arena I'm afraid. I have several projects on the bench in various states of completion.

The last few weeks have seen lots of personal and family activity. I started playing softball again recently and that's been fun. We had our annual Correctional Worker's week activities, lots of good food, booze and fun. The Wednesday night volleyball tourney resulted in an aggrevated knee for me. JB and I went on a 10 mile backpacking trip Mother's day weekend. This was in preparation for our Philmont trek. This week, we're in the middle of recertifying out SORT. We had an awfully physical day today. There are still some difficult events to complete, but basically it's downhill from here.

Workbench update; not much to tell here. My main focus has been the miner. I have painted most of the figure, with only the flesh, helmet and coat collar left to do. I have sculpted intermittantly, but no real results to show. I had a minor mishap with a modern figure. Trying to seperate arm from torso, I destroyed a bit of the finished work. This will be easy enough to fix though. Hopefully, I'll have some pictures to show before the Tulsa show on June 1st.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Spring has sprung

Well, after some erratic weather here in the midwest I think we might finally have some consistant spring weather. It's been very busy around the household. I started playing coed softball after a long hiatus. It's been fun. It's a church team and everyone is fun to play with. It's been a little hard on my 41 year old body though. We finally got the car licensed. It took a while to get all the paperwork, but now it's done.

Since the last writing we've seen the passing of a couple of fellows that have served the miniature figure hobby well in their lives. Bob Knee passed this past week and Dieter Mattingly the week before. Bob was very active in the hobby with many articles to his credit. Bob could be seen at every Atlanta show. I met him a few years ago and was immediately impressed with his openness and warm nature. Dieter was well known and well collected and had been for many years. He had contagious enthusiasm and was key in getting many folks their start in painting miniatures. He was a key organizer of what would become the HMSNEO, host of the Tulsa show. Both of these fellows will be missed by all who knew them. We're all richer for having experienced their gifts.

Workbench update: It's been a while since my last update. I have been quite busy at the bench. I have moved to the painting of my 1920's miner, and the joint project with Kreston has moved to the backdrop/groundwork stage. I'm looking forward to getting some stuff done for Tulsa. I should have the miner ready by then and I imagine I'll have about four pieces.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Trip to the movie house

I went to see 300 the ohter day with my son. I had planned to go with friends as well, but jury duty precluded this. I had to go to a later viewing than planned, so it was just my son and me. The film was a lot of fun and very faithful to Frank Miller's comic book vision. I was a bit disappointed that I didn't find it very moving. I was expecting something like Gladiator, or Saving Private Ryan I suppose. I felt the sacrifice of the Spartans and their cohorts at Thermopolae deserved a bit more reverence. That's a small point I think and probably not the vision that the producers had in mind. I love going to the movies and 300 is a prime example of the type of movie that must be seen in the theater. Grindhouse is the next film up for me and my movie buds.

My home show, HMSNEO's Tulsa show, is coming up very soon. HMSNEO INFORMATION HERE Pieces are being gathered up in anticipation for the fund-raising auction. I've donated my ACW Cavalry General to the cause. I'm sure others will be added as we get closer to show time.

My wife bought a used car yesterday. It was a new experience for her as I've always taken care of these things in the past. She did a good job and got one of the best deals we ever got on a used car. It's an '05 Nissan Altima and a nice ride.

Workbench update; I finished the Royal Horse Artillery figure. I've been working a bit on my joint project with Kreston. Sculpting with differnt materials in mind is a little challenging. Leather behaves a little different than wool, wool different than linen etc.. I'm also knee deep in a project for Der Bunte Rock, a Pawnee scout from the Indian wars. I'm returning to the spaceman I started a while back. I'll be trying to come up with a scene for him to occupy. My 1920's miner has stalled a bit because I wasn't happy with the drapery of the denim jacket. I'll get back to it today. I really want to have it completed in time for Tulsa.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Spring Break

I was reminded this week of a live chat thing that a few of us in the hobby used to be involved with. It was a live chat room in which the participants talked like we were on a party line or conference call. It was a lot of fun. I met and got to know people from as far away as Australia, and Scotland. It was quite a bit of fun, very close to a local club meeting or a show hospitality room.

Workbench Update: The photos are examples of what is going on in the studio lately. I actually have a lot of sculpting going on other than what you see. I only have one painting project going on right now and that is the Royal Horse Artillery by Elite. This is a real cracker jack of a figure. It has been pleasure to paint so far. I've also gotten a little bit of an education along the way as I researched the uniform. The sculpting project in the photo is a joint project I've entered into with Kreston Peckham. I'll reveal the subject after the project has progressed futher.

Sunday, March 11, 2007


As I sat in church today listening to the music, I thought of how moving "Ode to Joy" was as the young lady played it on the violin. Afterward I thought, "That is the stuff of art." A piece of music, a painting, a sculpture, these can all evoke emotions. Perhaps this is the difference between art and craft. Do we, as miniaturists, create art? The answer, sometimes. I've seen a few pieces that I would consider "moving". Most of them merely recreate in miniature some scene, usually historical. They do require artistic skill, but so do many other things that are not art. I would like to say that what I do is art. I think more accurately, it is artistic. I aspire to art when I create something, but I have to admit to myself, I haven't gotten there yet. I also have to say that the skill, and craftsmanship must be present before art can be accomplished in this medium. I'll continue to hammer away until I get there. I think I've found a new motivating goal.

I have been experimenting with poses this past week and had one of those lightning bolt moments. I had assembled a mannequin and was trying to accomplish that relaxed, weight on one foot pose so common in miniatures. It was not working. The guy was wooden and unnatural. I tried everything I could think of, then as I stood in my studio grinding away with my dremel, I became aware of how I was standing. Then it was clear, tilt the pelvis! I dropped the Dremel, grabbed the figure, tilted the pelvis, the result was like magic. I haven't been able to quit thinking about it and why I didn't get it before. This is why I do this. One of those moments is worth all the frustration and failures of the entire year.

Workbench update: As stated I've been working with poses and anatomy. I have sculpted a Harpooner, and what will become a 1920's miner(see above). I have also embelleished a sci-fi piece. I built a life support backpack and helmet for him. What a hoot. I have undercoated the RHA discussed in the last update. I have started on the sculpting for a joint project with Kreston Peckham. More on that later.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

There is nothing as dumb as.....

someone else's hobby. The Atlanta show is a week old by this writing. It was an excellent time as usual. This was my fifth or sixth trip to Atlanta. I always find it a terrific time. This one was no exception. Shows have become such a social event for me. I used to read on the message boards and in magazine show reports that it wasn't about the awards, it was about meeting up with friends. I used to think that was a lot of BS. In the past three to four years, I've come to realize the truth. It is about the social aspect. I enjoy having the recognition of a medal, but this has really become secondary. Sharing my hobby with others that are just as enthusiastic about it as I am is truly satisfying. Other folks that aren't involved in the hobby may appreciate the work, but unless they have done something like that, they don't really know what it's about. When you go to a figure show, everyone has the same interest. To share with others something that is so enjoyable to yourself is how friendships are made.

Workbench update: I started a sci-fi piece. I plan to convert a Andrea/3d miniatures slightly. I can't imagin that it was a very popular kit, but it is nicely cast. I'm in the process of creating space helmet and life support pack for him. I haven't decided the context for this figure yet, but I'm thinking something like "Outland". I also received the Elite Miniatures "Royal Horse Artillery". Cleanup was minimal, which is the reward for buying a figure while it's relatively new on the scene. The molds haven't begun to age yet. I want to improve my painting and I've found the best way to do that is with a high quality figure, a "painter's figure". Minimal cleanup and filling are two qualities of the "painter's figure", good sculpting casting are two more. A few thing to work on for me are blending, and simulating the direction of light. This figure has some unsculpted details that should be fun too.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Wrapping one up

I hate to add another entry so soon, but I just took photos of this one and wanted to share. I tried several different things on this one. Some I liked and some I didn't. I tried a few shortcuts that I'm regretful of. Not so regretful that I would redo any of them. More pics here.I'm looking forward to getting back to sculpting. I have a joint project coming up and a shadowbox that I wish to do. I watched 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Saturday night. I think a Ned Land figure poised with harpoon may be my next original piece. We'll see.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Saturday routine

I love Saturdays. I've come to really appreciate the relaxed mornings and the quiet afternoons of a typical Saturday. Many of my Saturdays are spent in this way; get coffee and breakfast and listen to Weekend Edition on NPR. After that I watch Bob Ross crank out a canvas painting until about 10:30. I try to be at the workbench by this time. These are ingredients to a good day at the workbench. Today is one of those Saturdays, the first for me in a while.

Anders and I made the trek to Tulsa last night for the monthly meeting. February is the club's annual swap-meet. I took several kits and sold a few of them. I managed to walk out without buying anything. The club gained a couple of new members due in large part to painting classes held at The Hussar. I've come to realize what a special situation we have in Tulsa. There is an active club, a unique shop in which we meet and a committed and creative core group of members. The club has a long reach as well, with members in Dallas, OK city, and of course here in Springfield, MO. I don't get to attend meetings as much as in the past. When I do get to go, I'm reminded of what a special situation we have with the partnership of HMSNEO and The Hussar.

Hobby commentary: I got invloved in a discussion on one of the armor modelling boards the other day regarding the difference between a diorama and a vignette. A difficult thing to quantify. My view has always been that I know one when I see it. I think some contest venues exacerbate this pigeon-holing problem when they have different classes for each. How do I enter my piece? Or worse, I need to make the base for my subject X" x Y" and include a vehicle and N figures so I can place my piece in the Dioramas category. I have to say, I'm glad that most figure exhibitions avoid this by having only two categories in the advanced division.

Workbench update: Painting progresses on the 1st SSF diorama. One figure is completed and the other is getting there. A couple of sessions at the bench should see the dioramas completion. I will have to touch up a few areas. I had to make some necessary repairs due to a small accident involving the kneeling figure. Not as bad as it could have been. I'll take photos and post them soon. Atlanta is coming soon and I'm just about ready.............

Saturday, January 27, 2007

"The joint's a lonely place after lights out and lock-up"- H.I. McDonough, Raising Arizona

Got a little cold I'm fighting off and I'm quite tired from back to back out of town trips. Both were interesting in their own way. One was a Scouting trip to the Tulsa Air and Space Museum. The boys had a great time and earned their Aviation Merit Badge. I learned a new respect for aviators. It's a terribly difficult skill, requiring skill, intelligence and perseverance. Fellow miniaturist Kim Jones ins the curator there. If you find yourself in Tulsa, give it a visit. You won't be disappointed. The other trip was work related. The Federal Bureau of Prisons North Central region held its biannual Crisis Management Training at the facility in Marion Illinois. For a number of years I've been involved with SORT, the Bureau of Prison's version of SWAT. For the last three years, I've been involved in training SORT Operators in tactical skills. For this most recent version of CMT I was assigned to the firing range to provide training in advanced weapons handling. The diagram shows an example of my room for the last few days. Here's an ARTICLE that explains it pretty well without getting me in trouble with the management. Hope you find it interesting. The training week certainly was.

Workbench update; As I've been gone there is little to report. I did manage to stop by the Hussar today and pick up the latest HM. I progressed ever so slightly on the 1st SSF fellows and expect to get at them in earnest in the coming days. More pics will follow.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Icy grip

Well, we've had quite the adventure lately. An ice storm, the worst in memory, came through last weekend. Another winter storm is in progress right now. I've never seen the like of ruined trees. It's as if a large lawn mower came in about 15 feet high and trimmed things down. I have also see several large trees uprooted due to the weight of ice on upper branches. My son and I helped one of my workmates remove trees from their long driveway. At one point 90% of the folks in our county were without power, including us. We were lucky and got our power back within 24 hours. Others are still without a week later. I'm told as many as 50% are still without power. Generators are flying off the shelf. My good friend and fellow figurista, Anders and his girlfriend were without for a few days and came to stay with us. Hopefully, we'll see a break in the weather and folks will get power back soon.

Workbench update; I've finished the groundwork for the ECW Cavalier. I still have to construct and paint the scabard, then attach the figure. I will then add some pastels to tie everything together. I have also progressed a bit on the 1st SSF figures. I'm experimenting with a new(to me) oil painting technique. I apply the undercoat as usual, then I add the midtone in oils. That is allowed to dry for 24 hours. Then I go back and add the shadows and blend. Then the highlights are added and blended. I call it wet-on-damp. Enough blending occurs with the damp/dry midtone that it allows a smooth transition without the worry of muddying the tones. It's experimantal and the jury's out on how well I like it.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

January update

Workbench update; I finished up the ECW figure. There are stil the pistols to add, but I may leave them off. I am planning on doing the figure with a horse at some point in the future. For now he will occupy a base with gabions as if standing near a breached fortification. I have begun painting the uniforms on the 1st SSF fellows. Completing the diorama for AMFS is becoming increasingly less likely. I've pushed through before to make a show and was sorry. I'll just have to see if lightning strikes. I expect to have a three or four pieces anyway.

I wish to improve my photography skills. My biggest problem is when I'm ready to take photos of my work, I'm in somewhat of a hurry. A photo setup is large and somewhat intrusive in my small workspace. I'll work on it in the coming year. Something else I wish to work on is my blending technique. In oil painting, blending makes or breaks the piece. I asked for advice in Timelines, and got some good advice. It's all about improving from figure to figure, to me anyway. If you do what you've always done, expect what you've always gotten.