Monday 9 November 2020

Battle of Ellenbach 1758

Blogs are meant to be an up to date account of what the author is doing and thinking......but I fail miserably as I still have games from 2018 and 2019 I should be recording!......One day. But today  I am "up to date" as this was a lovely game which Ken Marshall and I managed to sneak in at the end of October just before Boris announced a new UK nationwide lockdown!

Ken offered to organise it and he came up with a battlefield sketch map which I did my best to recreate on my 8 x 6 table not knowing what it was. He asked for suggestions and I thought a bridge and roads leading to the village and hills would add flexibility. He instructed that the hills should be steep, the river impassable, and the woods only penetrable by light troops on foot.

I found out later that he had several ideas up his sleeve but on the day I opted for what he called the "standard attack and defence scenario" little knowing that this would turn out to be Ken's take on the battle of Sandershausen, between the French and Allies in 1758. Since we both have armies that are Imagi-nations, but heavily based on real regiments, he fielded a Prussian style force for the attacking "French" and I chose Hanoverians, with allied light troops for the "Allies". I hope this does not spoil the enjoyment of the historically-minded among my readers.

Ken moves forward the "Prussians"

For a good account of the real historical situation and Charles Grant and Phil Olley's refight of Sandershausen, which inspired Ken, please see Part Four of Charles Grant's "Wargaming in History, Volume 1". Below is our interpretation of the tabletop for our Battle of Ellenbach.  The bridge was broken in Ken's scenario so was removed for all the later photos.

In essence my smaller Allied force had been retreating but decided to stand to fight where the valley narrowed sufficiently to make the Prussian greater numbers less effective. To win I had to hold the enemy back for 8 Moves and get most of my force away intact ( less than 50% with 3 or more hits). Ken gave me the middle third of the table (lengthways) in which to set up. I quickly realised I could just make my main line of 3 good battalions stretch along the road in the gap between Ellenbach village and the river escarpment. I had my small Hussar regiment concealed in dead ground by the broken bridge (Unit 9 marker on later photos). A unit of light troops (Grenzers) was initially concealed on each flank in the woods on high ground forward of my first line. Much of my plan was inspired by Guildford Courthouse in the American War of Independence - classic three lines of which the first was mostly militia ordered to make a show of force but retreat before things got too hot. My third line was reasonably good troops - Horse Grenadiers we classed as dragoons, a Grenadier Battalion, and a medium battery on the hill where I could fire over my first two lines for a while.

Ken decided to try the same approach with his Jager units on each flank but decided to deploy his three brigades side by side in march columns and the heavy cavalry brigade in the rear. He later said he had planned on having more space to manoeuvre as he hadn't banked on me deploying "so far forward", Well, give me an inch etc.......
As usual we were using "Honours of War" rules, as published in the book with a few local amendments. Keith Flint advises on a 30cm gap between lines as realistic spacing which is why I had spread my three lines out and deployed forward.  You can see a PDF of Ken's instructions and orders of battle for both sides here Battle of Sandershausen or in the 18th Century Historical section in the Downloads sidebar.

So Ken arrived around 10 am and by 1100 we were all set up and ready to go......

A view of the Ken's Prussian Army's opening dispositions

.......and my Allied opposing army in three defensive lines

Today about 80% of the figures we used were from Ken's superb collection of Minden/Fife and Drum/Crann Tara 28mm

View from behind the Allied ranks. The Hanoverian Horse Grenadiers are my latest painted unit - RSM 95 figures. My first line has a Redoubt Miniatures "British" battalion flanked by Reikland Militia battalions made from Parkfield Miniatures Malburian range. My Hanoverian centre line battalions each had a battalion gun, extending "musket range" to 30 cm.

The action begins with skirmishing in the near woods and the Prussian right advancing. Poor Ken had rolled for a Dithering brigade commander in the centre and did not move forward, merely changing formation.

Infantry now begin to engage in the centre and my left front militia battalion bravely swings to face the advancing Prussian Grenadiers 

Jagers and Grenzers start a long term engagement on the highest ground but casualties were rare as both units were small and there was so much cover.

By Move Three the front line hotted up. I used a local rule amendment for the C-in-C to take command of one unit for a whole move and do nothing else but upgrade it to Dashing and lead it. So he led the left flank Militia battalion, which already had 3 Hits, in a mad charge on the Grenadiers. This charge was to buy time for my front line brigade commander who got a double move roll and was able to form columns and retreat as per my plan. See photo below.

As can be seen from this overall photo I was very lucky that the charging militia only got one more hit and so 4 forced them into a retreat rather than 5 which would have been "Done For" - just what I wanted really. Ken's lines are beginning to form but he hasn't got his artillery up yet and the cavalry are stuck just changing formation for lack of a better action to make!

Up in the woods my Grenzers gave way slowly as the first line fell back

On the other flank I'd had a couple of lucky rounds of fire and was able to keep the Jagers there at bay

By now my first line was falling back with the option to reform once the Militia got more than 60cm from the enemy in a safe place. With the battalion guns my second line was able to engage Ken's infantry early and inflicted casualties. My battery on the hill had forced the Prussian Grenadier battalion to retreat and turned its attention to the beautiful multi-line target on which I achieved a few Hits, including with cannon balls "grazing" fire. Ken was just beginning to get his own guns in action.

My retreating Militia battalion with a red circle marker to show it needs to reform before fighting again

It was not proving to be Ken's day unfortunately as he rolled a couple of 1s on successive moves when trying to mobilise his lovely Dragoon brigade

At this stage though the Prussian infantry line was beginning to look solid and a bit scary

However, by Move 6 I was beginning to get the better of the infantry firefights and with help from the artillery Ken's front line battalions began to waver and pull back

I had brought my Horse Grenadiers forward to add "support' if there was a melee but in the end they were not needed.

Ken's most significant success so far was a Hit on my battery which also caused
 material damage (shown by the little red die) and would deduct one from every
 subsequent score. I used that as the excuse for the battery to join my plan of retreat

Hits mounting up in the Prussian ranks are causing units to retreat and falling foul of those advancing Hussars. The Grenadiers have rallied, reformed and are back though 

Ken makes one of many good points and below his hands a Prussian battalion is about to meet its high water mark. On both flanks my Grenzers had pulled back to try to protect the end of the main line. Note my Unit 9  Hussars are just about still concealed by the hill slope

But just when they might have been revealed they rolled for a double move which gave me ample distance to manoeuvre and charge the flank of the advancing Prussians, who were taken by surprise with not enough warning to turn to face.

But those Prussians remained in line facing front only to be broken by severe musket and battalion gun fire from my right flank Hanoverian battalion. 

Now my Hussars were without a target and we used the melee cavalry follow up rules to see what they did.  Come on! Hussars with fleeing men in front? - they carried on of course,  sabres waving in glee to slam into the line of bayonets of the Prussian fusiliers and were themselves broken!

Well that was my last photo because all that happened in Move 8 was me pulling back the second and third lines further, fleeing the Hussars down the side by the river woods, and continuing the retreat towards my objective with the Militia brigade. On my left flank the Grenz unit held Ellenbach village thus intimidating a full Prussian pursuit on that side. Ken's troops looked a bit chaotic and not in a position to make quick progress.

It was 6pm and time to pack up and we had achieved Ken's 8 Move target. There was not much doubt about the winner. I'd had a few lucky breaks and exploited them while Ken had hindered himself by not deploying his guns early enough or allowing the cavalry a way through to the front. Apart from a few unlucky initiative dice you could say he was defeated by his own numbers and the bottleneck of my position. Nevertheless we both enjoyed the day immensely. We had not seen each other for over a year (there was a lot to catch up on at the pub at lunchtime) but we played at a gentlemanly and fairly leisurely pace enjoying the spectacle of a relatively simple scenario but with great variation and depth to how it could play. I do recommend you look at Ken's adaptation of this battle for HoW in my sidebar, give it a go yourselves and let us know how it plays.

Thank you Ken for all your efforts and this was a great way to get my 18th Century "fix" before a second lockdown.

Tuesday 30 June 2020

18th Century mini-campaign - Raid on Vestisle - Part 4 Evening and overnight deployment

Many apologies for the extreme delay in presenting this fourth part of the series, blame lockdown distractions if you wish! (more on that in due course). This time I will describe the aftermath of The Battle for Bellune Hill and how we managed the arrival of the reserves and the deployment for the next day's battle.
For those who need a reminder here is a link to Part 3 - Battle of Bellune Hill and from that you can get back to Parts 1 and 2.
I'm sorry that this part will not have many pretty soldier pictures but it should interest those who want some insight into taking a mini-campaign from one big battle to another overnight.

Very quick recap: August 1756 - A British corps-sized force under the Duke of Marlborough has invaded the French island of Vestisle with the aim of disrupting a large gathering of Jacobites who are training, under French auspices, to try another attempt under "Bonnie" Prince Charlie on the English throne. A big battle has taken place across the middle of Vestisle island from around 1200 midday to 1420 in which an outnumbered French and Jacobite army has just about held off Marlborough's corps but had to give up vital ground. Both sides suffered fairly horrible localised casualties and, according to my campaign rules, needed to pull back at least one map square (500 metres) apart to recover.

Gratuitous view of the southern part of Abrantes City with French troops by Guy Barlow just for eye candy
Now I will have to ask your indulgence (bearing in mind this weekend was last Summer) in my describing what follows, as I'm having to condense about 8 real waking hours of campaign admin and socialising and about 5 hours sleep into a coherent whole. Also the description covers campaign time from about 3pm on Saturday 10th August to 0600 on Sunday 11th August.

I had written some post battle attrition rules especially and we now had to put them into practice. Here they are in case anyone wishes to adapt them for yourselves:

Post Battle Attrition (PBA)
The right hand column of the Orbat is to be used to keep track of the status of any unit that has suffered casualties (Hits). During a game this will be done by hit counters as normal and this column only needs updating after an action. Hits represent losses, disorder, desertion and general lowered morale or ammunition state etc, so can be recovered after an action.

For any unit that is in a reasonable state to recover (one or more complete map squares from enemy) Roll a D Average and deduct score from the end-of-battle Hits. Certain senior officers (see Orbat) can add 1 to this score). Units “done for” deduct 2 from D Average.

The result is their PBA:
Any 0 or Minus result will mean the unit enters the next battle completely fresh. 
Score of 1 to 3 - unit enters next battle with those Hit Points
But any score resulting in 4 or more the player has a choice:
Either: 1. Lose a base, reduce by one unit size, and enter next game with 3 Hit Points
2.  Stay the same size and enter next game unable to fight until rallied to 3 by normal HoW recovery system.

Outstandingly Good or Bad battle conduct
Any unit that performed particularly well in a battle, yet survives to 1 HP or less, may raise its status by one level (eg. Standard to Superior)
or if it did particularly badly and results in 4 HP or more then it lowers its status by one level (eg Standard to Inferior).
Performance is judged by umpire and two opposing players.  If they cannot agree then each rolls a D6 and the three are totalled. 
Score Total 3-7 = British view prevails
Score Total 8-13 = Umpires view prevails
Score Total 14-18 = French view prevails

Decide this before rolling for their success or otherwise in PBA score


So we had some fun in discussion about the conduct of certain units and generals in the Battle of Bellune Hill. Good naturedly there was a consensus but the only bits I remember were:
- The Cameron clan battalion was promoted to Superior due to facing and repulsing three Hanoverian battalions single handedly!
- General Trump was demoted to a Dithering commander due to his succession of failed initiative tests (what's in a name eh?)
- Lt General Barbier was upgraded to Dashing for his bravery and persistence in salvaging the French cavalry situation and conducting the entire left flank battle as a successful withdrawal action.
- I think the British 11th Dragoons were upgraded to Superior as they saw off the Apchon Dragoons and then pressed on to lead the repelling of Lauzun's Hussar brigade.

At that point I had each commander in succession up to my magnetic map board to agree on pull back positions and then, accompanied by some refreshment, they all agreed to assess the post battle attrition of all their units which had suffered hits.

Each set of players briefed me privately on how they saw the approximate state of the Army as a result. In fact neither viewed the total losses as disastrous; some units had been lost completely but with the addition of generals many recovered completely. A few units were left with Minus 1 or 2 hits to start the next battle and in a few instances that proved critical. To be honest my PBA rules as written are too lenient if you want more decisive results but they were fit for our purpose. In between the players all pulled together and cleared the table of troops and stored them on trays in their brigades, or packed the destroyed units for home.

In return for the briefing I gave each commander the results of the arrival times and positions of their reinforcements. This was not entirely down to me but was prints of photos of the map which I had done previously in response to Graham and Dillon's written instructions. We had kept the fog of war realistic during the weeks of emailing prior to our August get together. As I said in an earlier post, around 1100 game time I had got Ken and Guy to issue written sitreps/advice/instructions to their reinforcement commanders who were on the high seas just a few hours sailing off Vestisle. I arranged this so there was just time to get to the coast, send off the letters by cutter to the respective fleets and for the leaders to consider and issue orders. In reality those orders and intended timings were emailed back to me and I applied the rules for "Shore landings" to work out where the units might be at "end of play" around 7-8pm campaign time.

As a reminder here are links to PDF files of the two Orders of Battle for the campaign:
French/Jacobite Orbat
British/Allied Orbat

Space and time does not permit me to include the very detailed correspondence between the generals of each side at this time, but I must pay tribute to the four protagonists who entered fully into the spirit of the 18th Century in their period style language and courtesy to one another. Ken and Guy received their letters around 3pm campaign time (but with pre-dinner drinks in actuality!) which enabled them to consider the contents and discuss them privately with Dillon and the two Grahams. Hopefully the following two photos will give you what you need to know for the moment. I used Photoshop to blur out the enemy and own units beyond local knowledge to keep real intelligence information suitably vague.

Dillon had a powerful force of mostly German allies and mercenaries:
- Hessian Fusilier brigade, each of its 5 battalions equipped with battalion guns
- mercenary German infantry brigade of 5 battalions (of Ken's Imagi-nation Prussian types)
- brigade of mixed Grenadiers - 4 battalions
- British Dragoon Guard brigade (2 regiments)
- German Dragoon brigade (2 regiments)
- plus artillery

British: Dillon as the Marquis of Granby (still in favour in 1756!) landed everything at Beach 4 and
ordered his light troops up the road North from Cassatte as a flanking movement,
while his infantry and cavalry formed a reserve block beyond the beach where they could be called up
quickly to the front line. (Front line positions shown are c1100 hours prior to the Battle of Bellune)

Graham C was taking the role of the French supreme commander, General Le Duc de Richelieu, so had taken Guy's letter as advisory and issued his reply as orders.  He too had a strong force, some of the cream of the French army, which had originally been intended to impress the Jacobite Scots and test them in a mock battle exercise which was scheduled for Sunday 11th August. That, of course, was now cancelled as the British/Hanoverian invasion had turned everything real.
French reinforcements:
- sailors and marines each in battalion strength
- Guard/Elite infantry brigade of 5 battalions
- 2 Line infantry brigades totalling 7 battalions
- Guard/Royal/Elite cavalry brigade of 5 regiments
- brigade of a Dragoon and a Cuirassier regiment
- plus artillery

French: Richelieu had to consider, sight unseen, how the river bridges might affect his ability to reinforce whatever situation General de Muy had presented him with on arrival. So he had been cautious by only landing a small infantry brigade, plus marines, on Beach 1 and eventually decided to send them West as a reinforcement towards Abrantes. The bulk of his army landed in successive waves at Abrantes harbour and its adjacent beach. From there they would fan out to extend the French line towards the Chateau du Roi and bulk it up considerably through the city and south beyond its walls.
Armed with all the information they were going to get I asked the players to give me a rough outline of their hoped for deployment and intentions for battle due to take place the next day. They had the option of moving any map unit one square in the night but still leaving a sensible gap to allow for enemy piquets. With a rough idea of where battle would be expected I worked quickly with photocopies, pencil and ruler and finally on the iMac with Photoshop to produce the definition of the tabletops we required, shown in this photo.

For this one I needed to reverse the tables West to East as we could see that the Jacobite camp and Bellune Hill could provide a self contained smaller game that might then need to impact on the main event. The 12 x 6 table would contain much of Abrantes City and surrounding countryside to the South. Sadly I could not include the Harbour too. At the NE corner of Abrantes City is the stone bastion battery guarding the harbour.
I presented the players with their copies of the new map for consideration while we all went off to "The Butchers Arms" for a date with our pre-booked evening meal. (It's re-opening on 4th July - hooray!)
Much refreshed by Graham C's tales of running Crann Tara Miniatures and the other chaps' many wargaming adventures (and they paid for my meal - thanks Guys) we staggered the short distance back and there was still "work" to do.

I think it was somewhere around this point that my dear wife produced her delicious and legendary apple and blackberry crumble (with custard requested by Dillon!), Ken opened his vintage whisky, and Graham C the first of his several very fine bottles of Malbec. Did I say work?

Below is roughly what they were were working on. This is a photograph of my master map with magnetic unit markers showing the units surviving the Battle of Bellune Hill plus the new arrivals around 0600. Most markers are brigade size but some are individual units and the tiniest ones are the main leaders

The red marker in Abrantes City was not revealed to the French but it relates back to Part Two of this series and the British sailors who had infiltrated the City during the night - more on that in the next instalment.

I left the contenders in two huddles to plan the detail of their deployments as they wished, and were physically capable of, for their forces at 0600 on the 11th August. Meanwhile I grabbed the biggest glass of red that I could carry and headed downstairs to reconfigure the terrain for The Battle of Abrantes. This proved a longer job than I expected to ensure I got everything as close to the map as possible out of respect to the detailed work my mates were putting into their parts, and by about 1 am I was knackered and they had all gone off to bed. I couldn't face making up the small table that night so I got some sleep too and was up at 7 am to get some breakfast and get on with it.

I said it before and will say it again but I must pay tribute to this bunch of wargamers as they (mostly) allowed me to herd them like sheep, not cats. They performed all the tasks peculiar to their roles and helped me out with much general admin as we went along. As far as I was aware it all went off in good spirits and they were (mostly - you know who you are......) fit and alert for a new battle the next morning.

A lovely bunch of mates having deployed their troops and looking eager for a new day and another big game
The small table in the living room space showing the entrance corner of the Jacobite camp and the loyal Scots facing it from Bellune Hill.

Much more next time on crafty subterfuge,  the "fate" of a nonchalant Prince Charlie, and loads of pictures of our all day game. Don't miss it - I will try not to!

Wednesday 15 April 2020

The Archduke and Duchess of Beerstein: an Imagi-Nations wargamer portrait

Some of you who see me on wargaming Forums might be familiar with me often peddling my painting wares (sometimes as Sir Joshua Gregg RA, noted 18th century socialite and court painter to the rich and famous!).  I hope it doesn't bore you but it does pay off and, over the years, I've been very lucky to be able to visit, virtually and sometimes physically, the wargames tables of some noble 18th Century wargaming aristocrats (you know who you are!!) and put their imaginations, with and without a hyphen, onto canvas or paper.

The latest commission is a wonderful privilege to do a portrait of notable blogger/wargamer, retired US Navy Captain, William Walker of Florida and his good lady, Lynda.  "Captain Bill" is famed for his fabulous digital insignias, cartouches, coats of arms etc, in particular for imaginary wargaming flags as often featured in his blog The Reich Duchy of Beerstein

Bill has been a patron of mine for Hussarettes for a few years and this time we started discussing a battle scene but he wanted himself in it and some of his favourite model soldier regiments. It soon became evident he did not have the wall space for the big scale atmospheric mayhem I was conjuring up so we cut back our ideas. The concept of the portrait was the top priority so Bill and Lynda, as an 18th landed couple, were to feature prominently and with the addition of Reich Duke Wilhelm's bodyguard the Pilsner Leib Horse Grenadiers. I came up with idea of setting them in the grounds of "Beerstein Palace". This was the final result in an oil painting and below I tell the story of how it was executed.

Their Excellencies the Reich Duke and Duchess von Beerstein review the Pilsner Leib Horse Grenadiers in the grounds of Beerstein Palace,  Spring 1757. Oil on canvas 16 inches x 12 inches by Sir Joshua Gregg RA (Copyright © Chris Gregg)
Bill supplied me with a lot of photos of the relevant 28mm figures from his collection of which here are just two, and the colours of the Leib Grenadiers
Command stand and troopers of the Pilsner Leib Horse Grenadier
The Reich Duke and Duchess, and ADC Major Debauchery.
Bill decided he did not need the dogs in the painting
The wonderful design of the Horse Grenadier regimental colour,
duplicated to print as a wargame flag ©William Walker
18th Century aristocrats often liked to show off their grounds and/or their mansion in a portrait painting and I found this lovely building one day in my weekly email from the UK Historic Houses organisation. It is actually Kingston Bagpuize House near Abingdon, Oxfordshire, only about 30 miles or so from where I live. The Reich Duke von Beerstein was receptive to the idea that it could pass for a south German Ducal palace.
I was original inspired for the overall concept by Sir Thomas Gainsborough's portrait of "Mr and Mrs Andrews". Painted when Gainsborough was young in about 1747- 48. It's a super rendition of period clothing and proud, rather haughty, landowners, but significantly Sir Thomas was a pioneer of  English landscape painting, a subject close to my heart, so I wanted to put an interesting background in my aristocratic portrait. 
Mr and Mrs Andrews by Sir Thomas Gainsborough

Apart from that dear Sir Joshua Reynolds had done many, many fantastic portraits of upper class nobs, their ladies, and military gentlemen. Followers of this blog might appreciate a few of the latter:

Captain Robert Orme 1756
John Manners, Marquis of Granby, 1766-70
Sir Gerard Napier, uniform looks 1750s to me.

In addition to being influenced by such works of art as these I perused quite a few 18th century portraits of fancy civilian types for lace jackets and of course needed some period ladies riding side saddle.  Mr Google usually comes up with the goods when I ask him and I found the lovely riding coat on an actress, and Bill and I agreed a softer green and blue shading than on his model. I think it works very well.

Major Debauchery and the standard bearer are both based on two of many pics of yours truly dressed up for a Hussar photo shoot in 2018. Don't laugh, I suffer for my art!

Bill supplied me with a photo of himself as a naval captain and Lynda in their younger days looking very distinguished in an oil painting done way back then.  I got the four foreground horses from my art photo archives and chose a small grey for the Duchess and an impressive black for the Reich Duke.  I then photoshopped the whole thing together on a background of the adapted Kingston Bagpuize House and grounds. I duplicated some of the lines of Bill's models to produce two ranks of Horse Grenadiers awaiting inspection. I then got his agreement that this was along the lines he wanted. The following photographic sequence gives a snapshot of some of the key stages in developing the painting on the canvas:

At left is my photoshopped mockup which gives me proportions and a good start point. That is transferred to the squared up canvas in pencil and then outlined in thin black acrylic to secure it.
This shows what we call the grisaille stage.
Main areas of light and dark are rendered in a thin wash of Paynes Grey acrylic
to help focus on compositional elements
The grisaille provides a confident enough base to roughly fill in with acrylic
in colour. That allowed me to satisfy myself that the chosen colours would
 work and try them on Bill for his approval, which he gave.

When to do the background in oil can be problematic - first or last?
I tend to play safe by sketching the main colours thinly in oil with only a small
 amount of medium
Time to move to the foreground figures and I started with the faces of the
 stars of the show but never aimed for a finished look yet.
It's just that they feel more real as one moves onto the clothing and horses
Tightening up the details of Duke and Duchess and their horses. I'm using now
a rich mixture of water-based oil and special "quick drying" medium.
 It dries properly overnight as opposed to taking about 3 days without it.
This bit was challenging - I had the digital file of the flat flag design but had to
interpret that as flapping in the wind from its pole. It was a multi-stage process of brown,
yellows and white then left to dry before completing glazes of darker and lighter shading,
taking cast shadows into account on the gold detail
Pretty much finished the foreground figures now but not tackled the cast shadows or background yet
A more competent artist than me might be able to render the background building
in one go with just the right amount of detail and soft colouring, but not me.
 I tend to paint the background layers in full bodied oil with detail and then
fade them down, when dry, with successive layers of glazing containing
 tiny amounts of White or Naples Yellow
The building glazed I moved on to the Horse Grenadiers.
On the 16 x 12 inch canvas the officer and trumpeter are roughly
 the same size as 28mm model soldiers, but two dimensional of course! 
The Grenadiers take shape now......
........but only with sufficient detail as one might perceive at 40-50 metres away. A couple of horses are restless and even the best trained can't stand still for too long.....when is he going to inspect us?
The finished result minus signature (©Copyright Chris Gregg) awaiting final approval, which it got. By this stage I had tried for  facial likenesses of our heroes from the painting Bill had supplied and as I painted Lynda the eyes got bigger than they should.  But the more I looked the more I thought, hey she looks young and sexy - lucky chap that Reich Duke.  And, although I offered to repaint it, luckily for me Bill agreed. He also agreed to the accurate rendition of his moustache, though many might think an 18th Century aristocrat should either be clean shaven or have an impressive moustache like Major Debauchery's. Anyway, I think it looks suitably charismatic.
Well I hope you have enjoyed this insight into the painting process, and the work itself will soon be wending its way to Florida, assuming the postal services both sides of the Atlantic feel safe to do so. If this gives any of my readers inspiration for a painting you will find my prices are much more reasonable than you would expect, just get in touch and we can discuss -  Chris Gregg