Thursday, December 31, 2009

Meanderings While Figure Painting

Yesterday I finally got a chance to sit down and paint figs, something I haven't really done since August. On the table were a couple of 1/100 scale jets for modern Africa, my 28mm sci-fi police grav car, and a bunch of 15mm WWII US troops.

Despite gaming for years, and being a long time WWII gamer (since 1979), I had never built up American forces. I had painted up a batch a couple of years back, and this batch would complete those units. It was while painting the US troops that my mind went wandering through my childhood. These figs represent those heroes of my childhood, the men who shaped my world, and gave me opportunity to live in it.

As I painted the figs, I remembered watching movies like Battleground, and Battle of the Bulge with my family, reading endless books about battles and equipment, and images from those books. Windows into their struggle and sacrifice; visions that I can't ever really understand. I remembered faces of all those vets around me while growing up. Men who carried the burden of their experience without a word of complaint, and a couple so burdened by their experience, that they would take their own lives as a result.

I also remembered some of the best times of my life. The time spent wondering through the woods while playing army. Sometimes with my friends, sometimes alone, dressed in the surplus hardware that I had collected, I would defend the foundation of an old farm house, scale the sandstone cliffs in a flanking maneuver, scout an enemy raccoon or deer, or just patrol the paths and streams cris-crossing the woods. The best times were in late fall and winter, when the adventure was accompanied by the echoing sounds of woodpeckers and owls echoing through the woods, and of a wave of tree branches clacking as a gust swept through the woods.

I particularly remember one winter day; it was cold and the ground was hard. I was alone, and sort of deciding what I wanted to do. I remember taking off my steel pot, pulling up my collar, watching my breath in the air, and it started snowing. Big flakes, hard, pounding the ground. And the sound was incredible, beautiful, wonderful, and more than anything else, completely peaceful. Just an odd little moment, when the commonplace seemed extraordinary.

In any event, I haven't taken pics of my US figs yet, but here are a couple of my police grav-car. I'll have to touch it up a bit, when I add the decals and weather it.