Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Starry starry night

Vincent Van Gogh
28 mm

Starry, starry night
Flaming flowers that brightly blaze
Swirling clouds in violet haze
Reflect in Vincent's eyes of China blue
Colors changing hue
Morning fields of amber grain
Weathered faces lined in pain
Are soothed beneath the artist's loving hand

When I saw that Philip Hynes of Bears Head Miniatures had sculpted a Vincent van Gogh figure, I was so excited. Van Gogh is one of those artists who everybody has heard of, but who can never be overexposed or uninteresting. He was somebody who had a passion and a vast talent for art, but who was sadly so plagued by mental illness that he didn't last. Still, in his short life he painted over 900 canvases!

The particular painting I've depicted here is one of a series of four sunflower still lifes he did while working in Arles, France around 1888. The most famous of these hangs in the National Gallery in London, but there were three others. One is in a Belgian gallery and another was destroyed in Japan during WWII. This one has long been in a private collection and is not publicly displayed.

Something I was not aware of is that probably the only reason Van Gogh didn't slip into obscurity in death was that his brother's widow, Johanna Van Gogh-Bonger, inherited much of his work and devoted herself to raising its profile - and value - through an artful campaign of gallery showings and publicity. Without her, we'd never have enjoyed so many brilliant paintings, or a rather good episode of "Doctor Who".

"You should sign it 'For Amy' or something, just to confuse the art historians."

Sunday, May 03, 2020

Sorcerous Spitfire

"Zeppelin Down"
Mixed scale

Beneath the starlight of the heavens
Unlikely heroes in the skies
Witches to attack, witches coming back...
As they appear on the horizon
The wind will whisper when the night witches come

1915, the Great War... England watches the skies in fear of bombing raids from the Kaiser's mighty Zeppelin force, striking with impunity from above the clouds. An ultra-secret arm of the War Office makes contact with a terrifying and reclusive group of mythical inhabitants of the British Isles. Unmoved by appeals to patriotism, they are however outraged  at the technological monstrosities raining destruction on "their" countryside, and respond accordingly...

I've toyed with the idea of using forced perspective in a miniature piece for ages, but never found a good subject.  The inspiration for this probably goes back to a similar composition I once saw on CoolMiniOrNot, of a 28mm Orc Stormboy launching off of an Epic vehicle "far" below. But this vignette ended up more like some things seen in traditional military modeling. And it has four different "scales" in it, which I'll admit was an ambitious first try.

While I'm hardly ashamed of my painting chops, I'll definitely admit my traditional modelmaking skills are pretty... rusty, in as much as I ever had them.  This project was a definite learning exercise: I had to completely redo the Zeppelin after a disastrous attempt to shade the underside, and getting the base to look remotely plausible took a lot of work.  On the upside, the clouds came out exactly the way I wanted them! And a near-monochrome palette with strong contrast really gave the witch a sinister look.

“A witch ought never to be frightened in the darkest forest, Granny Weatherwax had once told her, because she should be sure in her soul that the most terrifying thing in the forest was her.”