Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sarah's Choice and Judges' Choice for the 4th Painting Challenge

First I have to apologize for the delay in getting this posted. Sarah and I have dashing about trying to get things arranged for our upcoming vacation and so I've fallen a bit behind in my blogging responsibilities. Anyway, we took a break tonight to have a bit of fun awarding the well-earned prizes for 'Sarah's Choice' and 'Judge's Choice'. 

So, with no further ado I will ask the lady of the household go first with her award:
Hello all, Sarah here. 
This year's Sarah's Choice celebrates the beast/creature which has best captured my imagination. 
From caravans of camels, herds of moose (meese?), dogs, cats and horses, to giant spiders and a very peculiar set of Book Golems, I've found my choice to have been most difficult. 
After much thought I went with the fabulist whimsy of Anne's fabulous Winged Monkey on Flying Carpet. I find there is something of both 'The Wizard of Oz' and 'Tales from Arabian Nights' in her vignette. I think one could spin quite the tale around this capricious, wonderful monkey and his magic carpet.

So, Bravo Anne!! I'm going to send along an gift certificate to you which I'm sure you'll make good use of. I look forward to the delights your wondrous Technicolor workshop will bring to next year's Challenge!
Finally, I wish to say well done to all the Challenge participants. It has been a pleasure to watch the entries roll in during the winter months and see the caliber of painting exceed itself week by week. 
(Oh, and to those who have wondered how Curt kept his wits about him to keep on top of the Challenge, his secret is that I make a damn good espresso!) 
Best Regards,


Well said m'dear, an excellent choice indeed. Oh, before you go, please top-up my caffeine intravenous drip, I believe I'm getting a bit low...

Anyone who's followed the Challenge this year can well imagine that I've been spoiled with a bewildering number of worthy entries to stand as Judge's Choice. I went through the entire set of submissions, from December 15th to March 20th, and made a shortlist along the way. I've spent the past few weeks mulling through this list, nibbling my fingernails, trying to make a decision. In the end I went with my instincts and so have chosen...

...Sidney Roundwood's 'Mata Hari' vignette submitted for the 'Villains' bonus round.

In reading Sidney's description of his project one cannot help but be impressed and affected by his passion for the period. In fact, instead of me wasting time prattling on about my reasonings I'm simply going to let Sidney's own words speak to my final decision: 
There’s a huge amount about Mata Hari on the internet, and I’m guessing everyone here knows the story of the Dutch exotic dancer whose provocative and flirtatious dancing became famous before the War started, and whose later career during the War became one of a courtesan embroiled in espionage and scandal. 
Her story is remarkable and, although there’s no time here to go into details, I felt Mata Hari deserved not one but three images for the “Villains” theme. I also wanted to place the figures at different parts of her story, and mix that with a little Alternative History.
So, here we have three figures for Mata Hari.
The first is Mata Hari as she became famous in Paris before the Great War – the City of light, of champagne, of laughter and of dubious morality. Here she’s depicted on the stage of the Musée Guimet in 1905, a bouquet of trumpet lilies at her feet. And, as I knew Curt would like it, she’s painted in greyscale, perhaps to offset the lurid gas-lights of the Parisian stage.
Next, we see her dancing in more private surroundings during the War. Perhaps for Captain Vadime de Masloff (her historical lover) or perhaps for a French general ensnared in Mata Hari’s web of seduction and betrayal, his be-medalled tunic, letters and High Command despatches lying thoughtlessly discarded on the carpeted floor of a hotel close to the Gare du Nord.
And finally, in a blast of Alternative History, the terrible result of Mata Hari’s espionage is clear for all to see. A discarded copy of Le Petit Parisien (no doubt dropped by a stunned and shocked veteran of the 1870 campaign close to his local Metro station) announces in sombre tones the fall of Verdun to the Germans on a cold Autumnal day in 1916. A copy of the newspaper, and stolen confidential despatches from the French General Staff are placed on the back seat of Mata Hari’s limousine as she quietly leaves Paris, with fallen leaves and doubtless a fallen French Government in her wake. 
The car is a lavish 1910 Mercedes, complete with liveried chauffeur, picked up from Ebay for a couple of pounds with a couple of changes such as adding transparent plasticard for the front windows.

Both Mata Hari and chauffeur are from Sloppy Jalopy, although Mata Hari was converted with a new hat, matching the one she was wearing while arrested in 1917. The dancing figures of Mata Hari are both from Alex Bagosy, sourced through Lead Adventure Forum a few years ago. The bases are built up with a mix of plastic card and “grey-stuff”.

The base was built up from non-warping marine plywood, with a plasticard set of paving stones. The lamppost was scratch built using two plastic rods, and topped with a plasticard sign and a plastic lamp fixture from one of my daughter's old toys. I wanted to try and create a Parisian "feel" to the scene - a sense of a time and place. I thought about producing additional figures, or a small building, but it was hard to think of anything quite as evocative as a sign for the Paris Metro.
I also wanted to try and create the background of the fictional fall of Verdun. This was perhaps the most fun thing of all to do. I found a copy of “Le Petit Parisien” newspaper from 1910 online and photoshopped a new headline onto it – “Verdun Pris Par Les Allemands". I then reduced the photoshopped page to a tiny size, and cut it out. I tinted the paper with a wash of paint, and then crumpled it slightly and painted the whole with a glaze of PVA glue to keep its shape so that it would look as if a Parisian had been so shocked by the news he had simply dropped the newspaper on the street. Quelle horreur!

To try and echo the devastating news, I made a second newspaper for the back of the limousine, and added a brace of letters - perhaps stolen letters from a lover in the Deuxieme Bureau, or messages from Mata Hari's own spymaster - on the back seat of her limousine.
The autumn leaves we're added with more PVA glue. I bought a small pack a long time ago from Antenocitti's Workshop, and they are still going strong! Trying to get the right colours to stand out against the grey base was a good way to spend half an hour.

Sidney, I know I've said this before but thanks again for debuting this wonderful work during the Challenge. It was vignettes like yours, Michael's, Millsy's, along with many others that really put a sparkle on the whole event.

As a prize, I thought it apropos to award Sidney with a copy of the newly published 'Poilu: The World War I Notebooks of Corporal Louis Barthas, Barrelmaker, 1914-1918' translated by Edward M. Strauss. 

Congratulations Sidney, I hope this volume provides you further inspiration for your Verdun project - I very much look forward to giving it to you in person in a few short weeks!


  1. Congrats to the winners and also to Curt (and Sarah) for the hard work and dedication. I so look forward to the next outing.

  2. Bravo! Two very worthy winners. Thanks again to Curt for hosting such a great challenge, and to Sarah for keeping him sane.

  3. Too very good choices so congrats to the winners.


  4. Congrats to Anne and Sidney on their very well deserved wins.

    Also, big thanks to Sarah and Curt for putting up with the workload and antics of the Wild Bunch

  5. Congrats to both, well chosen winners


  6. Excellent choices!

    I found Anne's entries to always be my favorites in the challenge. The color choices made each figure really "pop" for me and were a very pleasant change from the somewhat drab/weathered look my figures seem to always achieve.

    Ms Anne is a superb artist.

    However, I must admit being disappointed that my ground breaking entry in 1:1 scale combat office furniture didn't win any awards. One day, when gaming the exciting battles of WW2 with columns of fast attack rolling chairs combating batteries of file cabinet artilllery becomes the be all and end all of table top gaming, you'll remember who started the trend....


    I look forward to next year's challenge!

    1. You definitely are on the cutting edge of something there Miles. A true, erm, visionary. Yeah, that's it, visionary.

  7. Two excellent choices, I hate using the word evocative, but both these entries do evoke a different and somehow more interesting eras.


  8. Two finer choices one couldn't wish for, with both challengers submitting such a high standard of quality work throughout. Well done to you both.

  9. Two entries wonderfully worthy of the awards, well done to you both, richly deserved!

  10. Good to see such wonderful entries getting the recognition they deserve. Well done both of you! And to Curt and Sarah hearty thanks for all your efforts.

  11. Congrats to Anne and Sidney! Lots of wonderful entries this challange, I do not envy Curt and Sarah picking out their favorites, I am certain that a few other entries were in close competion for top prize!
    again, thanks and congrats to all for showing top form in diminishing the mountains of neglect! And more thanks to Curt for showcasing the results and Sarah for support of his endeavors! ;)

  12. Why thank you Sarah, I'm most touched that you liked my work. And you are certainly a terrific spouse for putting up with Curt giving us so much of his time.

    Wonderful choice Curt with Sidney's entry. That was a splendid piece of work.

    And again, Thank You fo all your hardwork and dedication. This event made the difference between my surviving the Winter and giving up.

  13. Fine entries both, and fine choices.

  14. Congrats to the winners! Very well deserved me thinks.

  15. Anne's flying monkey is one of my favorites, and Sidney's work is always spectacular. Two well-deserved wins!

  16. Congratulations both - well deserved accolades

  17. Perfect choices for two wonderful works. Really well deserved, I think!!!


  18. Wonderful painting. You used perfect color in every model. Trees Planet

  19. Curt and Sarah,

    What can I say? Anne's painting is simply terrific, and well deserving of the award. I love seeing her work - there's a real element of magic in the colours she chooses. Well done Anne!

    As for my entry - that's very kind, of you - thanks so much for the honour of allowing me to take part in the Challenge. For various reasons I didn't really achieve half of what I wanted to, but it was a privilege taking part with a great group of painters. Thank you both very much....

    ....and see you both in less than a couple of weeks!

  20. Congratulations.
    Very worthy winners
    Can't wait to meet up with you at blog con.

  21. Good choices. I had almost forgotten about Sidney's magnificent entry. I couldn't think of a better selection. You and Sarah both had a difficult job, but made wise choices.
    Should anyone want more contests, there is one still running on my blog.

  22. Both excellent choices. Well deserved !


  23. Hard to pick from so many but these are great choices.


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