Tuesday, January 06, 2015

"James Larkins" - My First Proper Foray Into Dioramas

[This figure was submitted to a "Bonus Round" (Riders & Mounts) of the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge.]

Around this time last year I finally fulfilled a long-simmering ambition to make use of a certain online genealogy website to do some family history research. Imagine my surprise as I traced my paternal line, the Larkins family, and found out that my direct patrilineal ancestor came over from Ireland as far back as the early 1700s!

Even more of a surprise was that his son, James, served with distinction through nearly the entire course of the American War of Independence, from Brandywine and Valley Forge all the way through to Yorktown, where he received a near-fatal injury that put him out of the war for good.

(On an eerie note, the injury seems to have been of almost the exact same nature as the one that nearly did me in back in 2012 - a severed artery in the upper thigh region.)

James served with the 4th Continental Light Dragoons, one of the few cavalry units in Washington's army. After the war, he returned to civilian life and worked as a tailor until failing eyesight obliged him to apply for a veteran's pension, which he received (and is the reason we know all these details about his life). He named his first-born son (my great-great-great-etc.-uncle - I'm descended from his second-born son) Washington. He was a Patriot through and through.

All of this information came as total news to me and my family; somehow, somewhere along the way, the fact that our ancestor had served with distinction in the American Revolution had become lost to history. So naturally I wanted to do something to memorialize this finding, and just as naturally I turned to the world of miniatures.

I decided to go for 40mm, a scale I've never done before. The figure is from Miniature Service Center's range of 40mm "Trident Design" AWI figures. The figure required a bit of work to get it ready to paint, particularly when it came to the horse. Lots of filling and supplemental green-stuff work.

I've painted the figure of "James" as he might have appeared towards the end of the war, in the early fall of 1781. By this point he was a sergeant in the regiment, though I couldn't find any information regarding insignia of rank in the 4th CLD, so I didn't include any.

I'm quite satisfied with how the figure turned out (I even researched horse coloration of Revolutionary America!), but there's...something more that needs to be done with the base, I think. Since these photos were taken, I've added some fallen autumnal foliage and bracken, but there's a bit of empty space that could use some filling, methinks. Maybe a tree, or a broken Union Jack standard on the ground, or...? I dunno. I'll think it over, and in the meantime this bad boy is up on display in my office.


  1. Handsome work! My 4th Great Grandfather! I am descended from his son James I guess we are cousins!


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