This week a new unit was mustered into my 18th Century Russian army, and a suitable parade was organized. The First Grenadier Regiment’s new banners (flags by Adolfo Ramos) were blessed by the Czar’s preeminent mad padre, Father Mikhail Petrovich.
Then, the Grenadiers passed in review before the commanding officer. So why is this the First Grenadier Regiment? Because it is the first such regiment that I ever painted, some thirty years ago, sometime around 1990 as I recall.
Here below on the front of the right-hand base you can see three of the original figures, Front Rank Russian SYW grenadiers advancing which I purchased from the long defunct and legendary Emperor’s Headquarters, which I once visited on the south side of Chicago (I think it was the south side, it was a long drive). I was a starving graduate student at the time, on a tight budget, so I think I purchased sixteen figures. I was working from black and white drawings in a book on SYW Russian uniforms that I was lucky enough to find, and used whatever paints I could lay my hands on. The green of the tunics was from a bottle of FolkArt craft paint (I want to say the colour was named Clover??) which wasn’t as dark as the traditional Russian Green of the period but I thought maybe the coats could be faded?
The other figures with the upright muskets are recently purchased from Foundry, which as I’ve said here before is now my go-to range for 28mm SYW. Once I started rebasing my SYW figures six foot to a stand, I realized that I needed more Russian grenadiers to flesh out the unit, so I ordered another 18 of these figures from Foundry and got to work on them last month.
In thirty years I’ve learned a few things about painting. As you can see on the old Front Rank figures, I was fairly ignorant of layers, shading and washes. The skin was very pale, and I had an idea that if I mixed red with flesh for their cheeks, they’d look a bit like toy nutcrackers, I did my best with the eyes, but hey have that starey look to them. I think I mixed some red with a bit of yellow to try and give some highlights on the red turn backs, but highlighting was something I didn’t really understand well.
The difference now, besides thirty years experience, is that I can afford better materials and brushes, which offsets the slight deterioration that my eyes have experienced. The Foundry figures are painted using he tri-tone Foundry paint system in the school of Kevin Dallimore, and as someone kindly said on Twitter the other day, these new figures are done at a good tabletop standard, a compliment I’m glad to take.
It gave me great pleasure to fold these old and new figures into a composite grenadier battalion, and to give them spiffy new flags. It’s a small tribute to thirty years of trial and error and slow improvements, but I love them all. These figures and the rest of the Russian army are rumoured to be preparing to march against Turkey. More on that soon.
Thanks for looking. Blessings to your brushes!