Friday 28 February 2014

Hussarettes: “I know how shoot - my boyfriend was in Military”

(This was originally published on 28 Feb 2014, but I have merely updated near the end with a new email address. Apologies in advance if this causes any confusion)

Count Gregorius looked down at the girl. Although there was a slight chill breeze in the wine cellar of Grunburg castle, she showed nothing but pride and strength. If she felt cold then there was no sign of it and the flickering torchlight gave a warm glow to her skin.. On her head she wore a black fur colpack with gold cords, across her shoulder was draped  a yellow woollen pelisse lined with grey fur and fastened by a gilt strap matching the lace button loops. Her yellow leather Hungarian style boots also had gold tassels. She slowly discarded the red military style short waistcoat which she wore when she had entered the room, and placed it on a stool. She wore nothing else except a remarkable gilt bracelet. The Count couldn’t help wondering what had become of her undershirt, or her dolman, and not least, her breeches.  He glanced, for some kind of explanation, at two stern Grunburg Dragoons, the guards who had brought  her into the wine cellar, but there was none forthcoming.

He walked slowly round her, admiring her Eastern beauty and pondering on the story of her capture. It was during the Prussian army’s pursuit of the Russians following Frederick’s  rather doubtful victory at Zorndorf. She was cornered in an inn wearing what appeared to be the uniform of an officer of the Gruzinsky Hussars,  but she  had fought three of his Dragoons to a standstill until forced to surrender by overwhelming numbers. He realised such a combination of spirit and feminine charm could be put to good use in his long term ambition to become Elektor of Reikland. But first she had to be put through her paces.

“Who are you?” he demanded
“I am Countess Natasha Gruzinskaya”. The surly expression never left her face as she spoke in a rich Russian accent. “I know how fight - give me sabre!”.
“Why are you naked?” He could contain his curiosity no longer.
“Better to fight, of course!”
With a little trepidation he handed her the elegant oriental sabre which he had taken from a captured Croat officer in the Prague campaign. She handled the curved hilt and weighty blade with confidence, all the time staring at him with the contempt of a superior being for an underling. He summoned forward his fencing master, a Captain of Dragoons, who took up the en garde posture which gave the Countess little doubt that she was to be tested.

Gregorius could hardly bear the thought that her perfect skin might be pierced in this contest, yet her spirit had to be broken somehow........

"I know how fight - give me sabre!"
Natasha of the Gruzinsky Hussars, 1758
Acrylic on canvas 14" x 10"
NOTE Copyright - not to be copied elsewhere without my permission, CG
.....But no need to worry, for this is part of my Imagi-Nation. “Natasha” was in no danger for she is really Yaroslavna acting the part of a Hussarette for my most recent photo-shoot to gather yet more reference material for the project. And the beautiful sword is real, but a dull-bladed, reproduction.  As she is a former professional model from Russia I was very fortunate to be introduced to Yara . She was keen to get back into “practice” after a few years doing other things.  She is a very confident young lady with loads of expressions and a willingness to take direction sometimes overtaken by her own exuberance for her art.

She entered the part so seriously that I had a bit of difficulty at first as she took on the discipline and austerity of the military persona as a kind of professional test.  I was showing her the Napoleonic carbine and was putting it at half cock, ready to fire, when she grabbed it with the words “I know how shoot - my boyfriend was in Military”. This photo followed  immediately afterwards

After a bit of this attitude, with which we got many good shots, I told her to lighten up - “Remember you are a pin-up - who wants to look at a miserable pinup?”  That got results and I do have smiling

In fact one of the key drivers for this photo session was  a beautiful miniature brought to my attention by Jean Louis (abdul666) back in 2012. A female version of a French Imperial Guard Chasseur a Cheval, but minus a lot of uniform. Here is a link to the original and lots of other novelty ladies too.

I hardly dared believe back then that  my project would enable me to  recreate it - a Chasseurette rather than Hussarette.    Yara posed for this from many angles, including the classic pose of the miniature (above), but I won’t show you that one as it will be a definite for a painting later.  But here is another variation.

The deal we have is something of a mutual goal for art’s sake, apart from her fee. In her case a self confessed “passion” for posing and modelling, and a real interest in representing this in painting. In my case I needed a model who was unfazed to go further than the lovely ladies I had already used, and across a wide range of themes. These themes featured a good selection of my props, by no means all of a military nature, but also to allow me to develop more sophisticated reference material.  A lot of that need not concern the wargamer blog follower, but for you chaps, and even ladies, here are two more themes.  The first is taking the “Tales of the Golden Head” girls into the jungles of the Dark Continent –  If I’d known her earlier Yara could have modelled Constance perfectly.

For those who prefer jodpurs I take consolation from a book I’ve recently read - Draw and Paint Fantasy Females  by Tom Fleming. He says if you want to put skin-tight clothing on your fantasy females best to use a naked model first!

The second is along the lines of the classic fantasy females made famous in the art of Frank Frazetta and Boris Vallejo in the 1950s - 70s.  Yara found a variety of  ethnic looking jewellery, and with dagger, axe and "spear" she took on the role of empowered warrior queen, both fighting and looking dignified in royal splendour. They will make some lovely paintings with imaginative backgrounds and atmosphere.

Another photo set may be of interest to viewers of this blog, which will be the 18th century Hussarette “wet T shirt” painting. Hussarettes playfully washing in a fountain or village pond is a theme that was suggested to me at the outset of the project and I have collected some good material from the Duchess and my original model “M”, but I have to say, nothing quite like that produced by Yara. We used some images from Peter Scheck’s fabulous model les baigneuses of the 18th century as inspiration and here is just one interesting pose of the many I have.  All it needs now is a sponsor to see a big painting take shape using loads of material and probably a variety of regiments’ disrobed uniforms!

OK. Now the sales pitch! A model of this quality does not come cheap, and she, quite reasonably will have  a royalty on any painting sales. So I’m very keen to be able to use some of the marvellous material at my disposal for painting - anything considered from £50 upwards. And you can engage with me by private email (Chris Gregg ), to discuss what sort of thing you might like. 

And please show your appreciation for Yaroslavna by commenting on this blog. I’m sure she will be delighted to know that she has not lost her considerable charms since her previous work experience.

FINALLY - A FRIENDLY REQUEST. I've noticed that copies of some of my other Hussarette paintings have been posted elsewhere on the internet. That is fIattering and I love sharing this aspect of how my work and hobby combine. But it does cost me a lot of time and a fair bit of money, as well as original artistic imagination and effort, and 40 years of practice as an artist, so please have the common courtesy of asking me first, and ALWAYs give me credit by name and preferably a link back to the blog or my website. Better still, as some of my clients will attest, commissioning a painting from me, whether fantasy or military, male or female, can involve you in a lot of insight into my working practice and the opportunity of selection of further images.


  1. Yaroslavna indeed looks most charming and she has a great smile.

    I look forward to seeing the results of this photo shoot once you've finished the paintings.

    -- Jeff

  2. Some very inspiring shots there Chris. Looking forward to the paintings.

  3. I think the painting at the top is your best yet.

    The young lady is completely lovely but be wary of the "objectionable content" label. I had one blog so labelled for even less exposure than we have here. There is a way to remove the menu bar at the top which allows people to "Report Abuse", although I don't know how. Search "objectionable blog". Under blogger rules any nudity or partial nudity is supposed to have have an "adult content" interstercial warning added.

    The tasteful blurring of the lady's nether regions (it reminds me of those old Harrison Marks magazines!)won't be enough.

    It's a shame there are people who object to bodies, particularly beautiful ones, but sadly there are!

  4. Thanks chaps for your support.
    This is a tricky subject I know but I'm treading a tightrope between giving the model and my work the right kind of exposure, and not causing offence. Yes I did blur the nether region out of respect, but I've still been asked to remove it,so I have. The other one showing her charming smile (thanks Jeff)I've swapped for something less revealing of her face, at her request. Any more comments very welcome thank you.

  5. I agree with Legatus completely w.r.t the painting - definitely your best yet...

    Happily I got to see the original posted pictures of Yaroslavna as I read via Feedly (it takes the first version published) and can confirm she is indeed a lovely lady! :o)

    More please...!

  6. nice blog we have here a song: lets enlist girls to the army! but i prefer them at home waiting in peace.
    visit my blog also. Cem

  7. Terrific painting and obviously a superb model for you Chris. Love the shooting pose.

  8. Thank you for looking Paul and for your praise. I'm very lucky to have had the opportunity to gather such good raw material with Yara, even better - the main painting has now been bought by another member of the AMG to paint another soon!

  9. Very impressive work! And that "Chasseur's Lady" old Phoenix mini takes me back -- I painted one up as a gift a few years ago, here's my completed take:

  10. Thank you piper, your model is very nicely done - but my, how furry! My young lady believed strongly that models should wax!

  11. Piper I forgot to add that this is the link to the painting that resulted as mu Charlotte the Chasseurs Lady. She is still for sale....

  12. If you think some people are recklessly sharing your art in a manner that harms your artistic integrity and earnings - and is encouraging others to maliciously share your art without any care to harming you, learn how to do 'DMCA takedown requests' so that site owners where your art is being shared/stolen will gladly remove those posted artworks.