Sunday 29 January 2017

Hussarette: More trouble at the border?

The Chevalier de Neuvalee breathed the fresh morning air of his homeland in the Province of Savoy. He had put on one of his best blue uniform coats and riding boots as befitted a general who was the trusted military adviser of the Duc de Deuxchevaux. He walked his steed across the meadow where he could see his niece, Monique, waiting for him eagerly; he needed to save his stamina for the energetic ride he knew he was in for!

He could not help but admire his 20 year old ward with her slim physique and long flowing blonde hair tied up with a ribbon for her ride. She was wearing a new outfit, state of the fashionable art -bright red tight fitting breeches and a matching very snug waistcoat over a tiny white blouse that barely covered her midriff.  Both breeches and waistcoat were embroidered with white lace in an intricate pattern reminiscent of a climbing plant. "That's a neat touch of a blossoming flower on her buttock" he thought to himself..... The front was of hussar style white lace and she nonchalantly wore the top half unbuttoned with the button loops hanging freely....well it was a hot, early Summer day. Delicate, pendulous earings and white gloves completed the pleasing appearance.

Her grey pony fidgeted as it caught the smell of another horse and very soon the the noise of hoof beats brought a rider, breathless, into their presence. He dismounted and bowed deferentially, handing a large sealed document to Neuvalee. It took the experienced general but a few moments to digest the contents, rolled up the scroll and handed it back to the Aide-de-Camp.

"I'm afraid, my dear, our ride is cancelled! More trouble at the border and the Duke orders me to lead another expedition to teach those Reiklanders a lesson!".........

"The Cancelled Ride". Hussarette Nr 13, Monique
Well this little episode was the precursor to our series of "Honours of War" Seven Years War era Imagi-Nations wargames and you can read how Neuvalee fared in the first two here St-Ulrich and kutzdorf

We have just played the third one - Surprise at Spittelwitz and I intend to write that up very soon.

Meanwhile, for those interested in the process of creating this addition to my Hussarette oeuvre, some more information follows.

After a few years into this project I thought it high time that I painted one of the young ladies on a horse, since Hussars are horsemen and I had collected a lot of source material back in 2012 on my photoshoot with Emily and Bob.  Emily was game to extend the historical role play with some creative Hussarette poses and one was suitable for the eager young Monique above, but out of respect I have used another face adapted from the lovely Ukrainian student Ella.
This is the initial pencil outlining on the gessoed board once I had decided on the composition in Photoshop. 
Final painting is enlarged from the A4 print by traditional squaring up technique
How did you pose the General you may ask? Good question as I'm currently lacking in a gold lace trimmed 18th century general's coat, white wig and 16 hands of horseflesh. So I fell back on the great American painter James Gurney's technique of using miniature models to "paint what doesn't exist". I posed one of my 28mm miniatures, which I use as the Chevalier on the tabletop, and Photoshopped him gazing at Monique; a bit of juggling got the ADC into a suitable position too.

The pencil outline was then fixed by using a fairly fine brush and very dilute Payne's Grey acrylic paint. That was extended to render basic light and shade freely blocked in to produce a grisaille effect.

After that it's just a standard process of building up the acrylic in steady layers of colour. I use it straight from the tube or bottle onto a "stay-wet" palette, and only mixed with water, not any medium. The lighter colours and highlights do need quite a few coats to get them glowing - such as the horse's flanks, white shirt and the gold lace on the saddle cloth.

The work area with stay-wet palette
Here are some details:

Chevalier de Neuvalee's coat, boots and saddle cloth
The original model used for the ADC was a dismounted cuirassier "character"
by Foundry Miniatures, but I've given him a fictitious uniform here
Monique's very small waistcoat gives the illusion that her head is a fraction too big.
I suppose I should have tried to compensate but those of you who collect
 military miniatures will understand "scale creep" to get in the detail!
I hope you have found this interesting, please feel free to comment below.
The original of "The cancelled ride for Monique, May 1760" is 16 inches x 12 inches on 9mm MDF board and is for sale at just £75, unframed,  plus postage. Please email me if you are interested, or wish to discuss any specially commissioned work.

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