My Battling Bronte Sisters (and Branwell!) are almost done, painted and based. Photographing them close up always throws up a few area to finish.
When they are not role playing their heroic parts in their juvenilia ImagiNations of Glass Town, Angria, Gaaldine and Gondal, they are all of course battling with the Dark Forces of Yarkshire folklore.
What started out as two packs of Bad Squiddo ‘Little Wolves’ (youngsters or child sized figures in Annie Norman’s 28mm Amazon Range) have been subtly converted to capture some of the make-believe of children at play.
I thought that they could be painted both as dressed as children role playing games and as heroic figures tackling Dark folkloric forces of Yarkshire.
Distinguishing the sisters is usually done by hair colour, especially in films.
I referred to the famous Bronte portrait by Branwell (centre, who later painted himself out) as well as the recent BBC drama To Walk Invisible for my colour palette.
Reddish hair – Anne – painted in grey with red sash
Brown hair – Emily – painted with longer skirt and green tunic, red belt
Black hair – Charlotte – painted with blue dress and red sash
Clothes – I kept the colour scheme quite dark coloured, sober and practical for parsons’ daughters in wet damp Tropical Yorkshire, even through early Victorians were often more colourful than our image of sober Late Victorians.
Image: Isabel Greenberg’s Glass Town. She uses the same hair colour system.
All paints were Matt Revell Aquacolor Acrylics, starting with a Matt black undercoat.
Faces – in keeping with the overall drab Matt colours of their clothes, boots or clogs etc, I avoided my usual bright gloss colours and toy soldier faces with pink cheek dots etc. Instead I chose a subtle mouth or lip colour ( a trace of carmine red) and a darker flesh using Revell Afrikabraun (or desert brown) instead of flesh.
To add that grungy, muddy feel of children out on the moors or getting mucky playing around the Parsonage, I used a brown shade or wash of Citadel Agrax Earthshade on flesh, faces and folds.
The Branwell ‘problem’
The two packs I bought from Annie Norman at Bad Squiddo were all female.
As I failed to find any suitable 28mm boy figures, I set about converting one of the girl figures into a red haired brother Branwell boy figure.
Filing down an excess of plaited hair, I covered the rest of the luscious plaited locks with an old hooded travelling cape (it were wet, dark and cold up on those moors) made of tissue paper and PVA.
I considered adding breeches or trousers with tissue paper and PVA but thought that Branwell as a boy was the only one in Victorian times who could get away with bare legs and ankles. The parson’s three surviving daughters probably could not.
Branwell’s poems show a familiarity with the classical and heroic epic, so I painted him bare legged, just wearing his ankle boots. His trouser legs are probably rolled up and he is wearing an old smock to look like a classical hero with tunic and cape. All make-believe or possibly real, playing around with that dual use notion.
Branwell (left) and Charlotte (right). Branwell’s cloak hood needs defining by shadow.
Basing is onto 1 penny MDF bases from Warbases, with PVA used to fix a rough mix of grassy flock and fine Cornish beach sand to suggest the moors. Appropriate enough as the Bronte children’s mother was born and grew up in Penzance, not far from the source beach in Cornwall.
Hopefully gritty and northern enough? Until I can go up on the moor and gather some proper Yarkshire grit and dirt.
Battling the Bronte Sisters
These figures are great for duelling games using simple ‘parry and lunge’ (Gerard de Gre) dice or card rules from Donald Featherstone’s Solo Wargaming.
On their way in the post, I have on order two packs of 28mm “Little Wolves” (Amazons range) from Annie Norman at Bad Squiddo Games.
These will represent each of the three Bronte sisters in combat “role playing” in their fictional ImagiNations of Gondal, GlassTown, Angria and Gaaldine.
This will provide me the three sisters Charlotte, Emily and Anne – and one spare (a friend?)
This should give me a focus for #FEMBruary 2022 – Each February, miniature or figure painters and gamers choose to paint or model believable female miniatures as part of a challenge by fantasy gamer and modeller Imperial Rebel Ork.
I will look around for a suitable brother Branwell 28mm figure, once I have ‘met’ his sisters. To me, he is usually portrayed on screen as Naughty Norman Price of Ponty Pandy, straight out of Fireman Sam.
Being a figure converter and tinkerer, an improvised tissue paper sash or two might feature to flesh out the girls’ ImagiNations uniforms, inspired by Isabel Greenberg’s Glass Town.
Isabel Greenberg’s superb Glass Town graphic novel shows the Bronte sisters and brother in their ImagiNations uniforms.
I can easily see these fighting sisters being up and at ’em, duelling against other fantasy or historical figures in roughly 28mm scale – zombies, skeletons, regency dandies and assorted Bronte ImagiNations bad guys in Pride Prejudice and Zombies style – as this slides into gothic, RPG or fantasy gaming…
Bad Squiddo Figures
I have previously enjoyed painting Bad Squiddo figures of Land Girls for my ‘boycraft’ entry for my local flower and veg show, crafts section in 2019.