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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Warrior Monks for Ronin

In college, I saw Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai" for the first time in a film study class.  It sparked my interest in the Age of Samurai and from there, I watched nearly all of his majestic films. Years later, my fascination was rekindled with the PC wargame "Shogun: Total War."  It was a masterpiece of thematic music, 3D graphics, small vignettes and a good AI.  On top of that, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts periodically displays a collection of Samurai weapons and armor.  My son and I always stop to stare at the oversized yari and naginata.  Lately though, the Samurai era has fallen off my plate. I have no Samurai figures or armies, hardly any books on the subject and no boardgames either.

I took this commission hoping it might of rekindle my interest. The figures are for Ronin, a skirmish wargame set in 16th century feudal Japan.  It's described as providing the flavor and excitement of Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai" and "Yojimbo." That sounds like my kind of game and I hope to try Ronin before the year is out. 






All the robes were done in triads but my color jumps were tight, perhaps too tight.  Yellow was the usual pain in the arse but the finished product is quite bright and pleasing to the eye. I think my faces are getting better as I break them into smaller sections. The North Star Military Figures are superb but quite challenging to paint.  There's a lot going on with each figure.  One buntai (squad?) down, one bunch of Samurai to go.

I also painted up some oxen for my friend Mark. I didn't base them up as he has Dark Age carts waiting for them.  I'm looking forward to seeing these in our SAGA games over the summer.

This last week was a big one for my son, the composer.  Over spring, Grant wrote a wonderful programmatic piece called The Triumvirate for percussion trio.  The piece has 3 movements, each representing a member of the First Triumvirate of Crassus, Pompey and Caesar. During the final movement, (Caesar), a drummer yells out "The die is cast" in Latin and the Pompey theme mixes with the Caesar theme, as they battle for dominance.  As a huge fan of history, I was thrilled to see these great men of history come to life in this composition.  With this piece, Grant was chosen as one of 7 BMI Young Composer Award winners for 2014.  BMI flew him to New York City for an all expenses paid trip and ceremony. He's the fellow in the front with the yellow shirt.  I don't think his feet have touched the ground since!

58 comments:

  1. Congrats to Grant! I quite like both the oxen and the Buntai; that yellow just pops. I think you'll like Ronin; one of the club games ran a demo of it a while back, and it was a blast.

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    1. Thanks Marcus!

      You had a great AAR on Ronin some months back that really piqued my interest. So I can credit, or blame you, if I find myself down another path. ;-)

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  2. Superbly painted monks! Cattle look great- they could be used to haul carts for the Japanese too! Congrats to your son. My oldest (19) is a decent pianist, but can't imagine being a composer! Well done and be justly proud of him Dean

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    1. Thanks Dean and you are the master of this era. I've only put a toe in!

      A pianist, that is fabulous. I love all instruments and it must be great to hear him play!

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  3. Monty, congratulations on your son's achievements; clearly, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, given the subject matter of his latest composition!

    And I like a good samurai fig as much as the next man. My own interest in the milieu was first piqued by watching "The Samurai" on TV back in the 1960s, with the adventures of the Imperial agent Akikusa Shintarō and his Iga Ninja sidekick, Tombei the Mist. Ah, happy days...!

    Your monks look the business alright; could this be your next SAGA, perhaps?
    ; )

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    1. Thanks Evan! I was thrilled to hear his historical theme when he told me about it.

      I don't think I've seen the Samurai series you mentioned. Where I grew up, we got TV shows of Ultraman instead!

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    2. "The Samurai" was an amazingly popular show in Australia from 1964, and was a positive antidote to all the Westerns which had hitherto dominated kids' TV.

      Its impact was such that the series was the subject of a documentary on Australian television in 2009. Worth tracking down a copy!

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  4. Fabulous! Your work has only improved Monty. :) How much commission work are you doing these days?

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    1. Thanks Jonathan, that means a great deal to me!

      I've suddenly got a slug of painting commissions for Dux B, Dead Man's Hand and Chain of Command. I paint nearly every night for enjoyment and my mental health. If I had a local painting partner like you, Johnathan F or Scott M, there'd be no need or room for commissions. With no partner or big project, I have more time to paint than opportunities to put lead on the table. I'm not complaining, just explaining. ;-)

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  5. Very nicely done, the yellow caught my eye immediately. And congratulations to your son.

    John

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    1. Thanks John, the yellow was my favorite!

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  6. Great looking figs once again Monty, and they're even the right size! ;-) Much to my eternal shame, I have never seen Seven Samurai. Someday....

    Congrats to your son!

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    1. Jason! At 3 1/2 hours, it is a bit of a commitment but it is a gem.

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  7. I see you have taught Grant well! That is, yellow really makes a statement. Your samurai are exquisite little gems. Quite outstanding!

    As for your son, what can I add that his peers and haven't already acknowledged by awarding him BMI Award? Being an old percussionist myself, I would have enjoyed hearing the piece. I guess, I can add, "great job!"

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    1. Good one, Jonathan, and thanks! I noticed that today as well when I posted it up.

      Ok, now I have to know what instrument you played. Drummer maybe?

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  8. Firstly I'm so impressed with your sons ability to compose such a complex piece of work. The recognition he received is a testament to his ability. You must be very proud of him.

    Now onto those yellows-magnifique!

    The Hubby got me into Kurosawa and we've watched all of his films. My personal favourite is Dreams. I have watched that over and over again and it never fails to stun me with it's visual beauty and deep meanings.

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    1. Anne, I've never seen Dreams. How did I miss it? Adding to my Netflix queue in 3...2...1. Thanks!

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    2. Congrats to you son Monty and to your excellent painting of your monks really awesome!

      Seven Samurai is my favorite never get tried/bored watching this master piece film of art! my second favorite Kurosawa film is Ran (1985)

      cheers,

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    3. oops... that should be tired and not tried! :o)

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    4. Thanks Phil! I haven't watched SS in years. Time to get it back in the movie queue.

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  9. Those are stunning figures, very inspiring. I've been pondering which Buntai to get next and you may just have made up my mind. I've just played my first game of Ronin and highly recommend it. I've posted an AAR and a review of the rules on my blog, it's quite easy to pick up but a lot of fun to play.

    Congratulations to your son too, what a talented family you are! Cheers, Paul :-)

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    1. Paul, thanks and welcome aboard! I'm going to find your review and AAR.

      I've tried to join your blog for two days and I only get error messages. I'll keep trying but blogger is misbehaving again.

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  10. Congratulations to your son Monty, what a talented family! Congrats for the great paint job, yellows and oranges are really nice, love their weapons too...

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    1. Thanks Phil and once again, your latest AAR is a GEM!

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  11. Lovely work there Monty, the colours look splendid!

    And congratulations to your son!

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  12. These are sensational Monty, I must admit that I've been tempted by these very miniatures for a while now and seeing the fabulous job that you have done with yours isn't helping my resolve. As for Grant's achievements, how splendid is that - you must be very proud and rightly so.

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    1. Michael, thanks ! A painter such as yourself will tear right through these fellows. Your Steampunk bobbies were killer, literally and figuratively. ;-)

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  13. Congratulations all round Monty, both in your Sons achievements and your figures

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    1. Thanks Andrew! I've been enjoying your Warbases Wednesday posts. Fantastic stuff every time!

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  14. Excellent looking Monks and congratulations to your son's outstanding achievement!

    Christopher

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    1. Thanks Christopher, I appreciate it!

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  15. Lovely painted minis ! and congratilations to you son, must be a proud dad indeed, have your feet touched the ground since;)

    best regards Michael

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    1. Thanks Michael, it is pretty amazing. There was a time where I was a bit worried about my son giving up math to put 100% into composing. Not any more. :-)

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    2. As a mathematician, I would have advised to stick with maths too but one must pursue their desires. Besides, composing is laced with math anyway!

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    3. Very cool Jonathan! I thought you worked in a different line but it's not important.

      I agree, I work for $ and not love of my work. Ideally, it should be your work is your passion. He made the call but I had some anxiety about it. All you can do is hope it all works out!

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    4. For me, if you don't like your work then it is not worth doing!

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  16. proudness of a father is nearly as powerfull as the love of a mother...

    you're the painter of the shirt of your son ?
    the color of a musical monk ?

    children are the most important thing
    and when you can share your hobby with them that's wonderful !

    félicitations papa

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    1. :-)

      Little did I know we were sending him to NYC in a monk colored shirt. Thanks so much, Marco.

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  17. Terrific work. At first they seem rather simple, but that's quite deceptive. I loved details like the individual feathers on the arrows in the quiver, the creases in the head-scarves or whatever they're called. Very lovely.
    Congratulations to your son, I expect I'll be hearing him on NPR one day soon. His composition sounds amazing.

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    1. Thanks Michael, and it's true that the North Start modeler packed quite a lot on each of these figures.

      I love NPR and that would be the coolest thing to hear!

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  18. Congrats to your son, of course !
    and to you for the painting work !
    I like the bright colours that you have used for the monks : beautiful colours !
    (that's maybe why your son wear his yellow shirt !)

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    1. LOL, and thanks Sam. I do see a connection!

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  19. Monty! Due to an embarrassing failure to check your Follower count, I retroactively and apologetically add you to my list of Liebster Award nominees! I always seek your posts foremost! http://palousewargamingjournal.blogspot.com/2014/05/leibster-nomination.html

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    1. No worries, Jonathan! I'm nearly at 200 (which is quite mind boggling) so I count myself out. There are so many new blogs out there that an old dog like me shouldn't be in the mix. I do appreciate your kind and generous words. Following your blog, I feel like I know you and count you as a blogging friend. I only wish I lived within driving distance so we could get a game in and swap stories!

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    3. Indeed! 'Tis an honor to be counted as a friend (blogging or otherwise) of yours! I do wish we lived closer although the drive is doable in two days at about 1,400 miles.

      Our European friends probably have difficulty grasping the expansive distances in the U.S. Would they believe that the commute between our two cities would be the equivalent of driving from Madrid to Warsaw?

      Ha!

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    4. Madrid to Warsaw? Wow!

      I drove to Yellowstone years ago with my kids for a week of hiking and sightseeing. On the drive back, I was starting to hallucinate from road fatigue by the time we hit Iowa.

      Miles you drive for a game might make a good blog post one day. Locally, I'm pretty spoiled and rarely have to drive more than 25-30 minutes to meet up for a game.

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  20. Excellent monks! And congratulations to your son, that's quite something

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  21. Wow, yet another new setting you are tackling. These are looking great, especially since good yellows are hard to do.

    And congratulations on Grants success. I guess some of your love for history must have rubbed off!

    It is only humble in this context, but you have been nominated for a Liebster Award ;-) :

    http://dhcwargamesblog.wordpress.com/2014/05/27/liebster-award-2014-edition/

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    1. Thanks Burkhard! That is very kind of you.

      And yes, it is a treat when we can influence friends or family like this with history!

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    2. It is only well deserved!

      I think it is great, if one can inspire others like that.

      I have been giving more thought to this yesterday and I think "depicting" the Roman civil war like that is a stroke of genius. In a way it also reminds me of the silent movie era (not meaning to pull your sons work down to that level) where the story had to be told by the music. Hope I will get a chance to listen to it some time! I assume it has not been put online as some of Grants other pieces, has it?

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    3. It has been performed once with a planned 2nd performance at IU next fall. It isn't up on his site because he was told that to do so as a young composer might leave him boxed in at the very moment he's trying to launch. He's very excited about the fall performance and if he gives me the green light, I may be able to share a link to a drop box or something.

      I know I'm biased but I did feel each movement reflected the spirit of the man, building to the big showdown!

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  22. Hi Monty,

    many congrats and my best wishes to your gifted son!

    And for the miniatures: Excellent work!

    Cheers
    Stefan

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  23. Those look great. The bright colors came out really well and should look awesome on the table. You must be very proud of your son. That really is amazing. Why don't you take a Liebster and then the two of you can compare accomplishments.

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    1. Brilliant! I'm going to tell my son I'm a winner too. ;-)

      I need to work up my list now.

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