You're probably familiar with the term "method acting." In case you are not, method acting is a technique used by actors to immerse themselves in a character so deeply that they'll sometimes continue to portray them even when offstage or off-camera. I've been utilizing "method painting" lately while painting my Romans. In my version, I immerse myself in the era and army which I'm painting so deeply that I can forget what period I'm inhabiting! Method painting is the first step to creating the Perfect Gaming Trifecta:
Step 1. Immerse yourself in the era and army.
Step 2. Paint the army.
Step 3. Bring it all home by fielding the army on a tabletop!
The great thing about method painting Romans is the enormous amount of material available to immerse yourself in. I'm going to give a Top 3 recommendation for my favorite sources of inspiration for painting Romans this month. If you sample any of these, don't be surprised if you get sucked in and discover a Roman army project has appearred on your plate. The list please!
Dan Carlin's Hardcore History podcast, Shows 34-39 "Death Throes of the Roman Republic." Dan's 5 shows give you a thrilling 13 hour ride through the end times of the Roman Republic. I was so smitten with this excellent series that I've become a subscriber to Carlin's podcasts. He is off the charts good and I'm working my way through all of his podcasts. I like to listen to them while I paint and I'll listen two or three times through just to make sure that I catch everything. Did I mention that his current shows are free?
Greece and Rome at War by Peter Connolly: This is a superbly illustrated study of a tactics, soldiers, equipment and campaigns of both the Greek and Roman armies. Connolly is an excellent illustrator and his art is an inspiration for any hobbyist or historian. This book serves as an excellent reference source and inspiration. As a painter, you can never have too many reference books and this one earns an A.
Rubicon: The Last Years of the Roman Republic by Tom Holland: This book is a riveting narrative of the final years of the Roman Republic. It is full of larger-than-life characters like Marius, Caesar, Pompey, Mark Anthony, and the Poison King, Mithridates, just to name a few. To give you just a small taste of what's in store, here is a quote directly from the book:
"The mines that Rome had annexed from Carthage more than a century previously had been handed over to the publicani, who proceeded to exploit them with their customary gusto. A single network of tunnels might spread for more than hundred square miles, and provide upwards of 40,000 slaves with a living death. Over the pockmarked landscape there would invariably hang a pall of smog, belched out of the smelting furnaces through giant chimneys, and so heavy with chemicals that it burned the naked skin and turned it white. Birds would die if they flew through the fumes. As Roman power spread, the gas clouds were never far behind."
Wow! So there you have it. 3 recommendations that'll put you knee-deep in the Roman era. I confess that I just discovered a downside to method painting. Today, I went down to the kitchen in my purple trimmed toga expecting a breakfast fit for a Caesar. Instead, it seems I interrupted my wife and two children conspiring against me in whispered tones. I think they've read "Rubicon" too and now they know how Caesar meets his end. I've only got until March 15th to figure out which of them is Brutus!