(Editor’s Note: The work of Eric Talmant occurs often on the webpages of the IFFS. I took the liberty of contacting him to see if I could feature his work on “Flat Tin Figures.” He graciously consented. I wrote a few questions for him to consider and he sent me the transcript that follows along with a host of photos. I have not posted all of them, but I have posted most of them. I know you will enjoy reading what he has to contribute to the art and the photos of his work. Thank you Eric!)
My name is Eric Talmant and I was born in June 1949.
I was offered my first flats by my father when I was about 14; they were Mignot French musketeers of the royal household and napoleonic dragoons on foot.
But I really started painting in the beginning of the 80’s when I became a member of “Les canonniers (gunners) de Lille”, a collectors society still existing now. At that time I went to some competitions in Paris (Les amis d’Historex, now Sèvres), London (BMSS) and Bruxelles (SBF). I also made my first visit to Kulmbach in 1983 I think.
I had the pleasure to meet some of the great collectors-painters of the time, Walter Fisher, Mike Taylor, Jim Horan, Jim Woodley and others. A special word for Jim Woodley whose famous article in Military Modelling was the click which brought me back to flats after a diversion to “rounds”. I also have to talk about Christian Terana, a French professional painter whom I know for years and who has always been a very good advisor to me.
Nowadays I am a member of the Int Flat Figure Society (British Flats Figure Society) www.inflatfigures.org, and of the AFCFEF (Association des Figurinistes et Collectionneurs de Figurines de l’Est de la France) www.afcfef.fr
My interest in flats mainly goes to 30mm, sometimes 40, and from antics to 17° century. I am not much in Napoleonics.
I like figures issued between 1920 and 1960 and designed and engraved by people like Rousselot, Madlener, Bombled for the design and Franck, Thieme, Mohr, Maër, Lecke for the engraving. I have a particular affection for Mignot, which are not the best, but which covers some very interesting topics. As I am an “old timer” I keep thinking a flat is a both side engraved figure standing on a base and should be painted both sides.
My preferred style is the old one represented by Wladimir Douchkine (the best !) and Eugène Leliepvre. They gave the most importance to the volume of the figures, before details, and this is how I consider flats (especially 30mm ) have to be paint. This does not mean I do not admire some great “detailing” painters; some of them do things I could not do.
(Editor’s note: the following several photos are of a collection Eric painted. The first few photos are of individual figures within the set, and then Eric provides us with several pics of the set as a whole.)
(Editor’s Note: What follows is another series of photos of another set Eric painted.)
I have a rather quick and simple way of painting, always with traditional artist oil paint. After having decide what figure I will paint (which takes a long time among the thousands I have) I deburr and clean it very carefully. Then I put an undercoat of white Winsor and Newton alkyd paint.
When dry (24h after), I look at the figure to correct any little remaining defect. Usually I start painting by blocking the colors on the whole figure or at least on the main parts (for cavalrymen I start by the man and then the horse). It allows me to have a general vision and appreciation of the volumes I will give to the figures and so put the light and shadows at the right places
I start by a first lightening work, then first shadows and so on; I always finish by the deepest shadows which will by contrast accentuate the lightness of the highlights.
All this work is made in the wet.
After a little time I come back to the figure to accentuate some shadows when needed and to put the cast shadows at their right places; I always try to have the light coming from the upper left side (10).
As I am now pensioned I have more free time to paint especially as my wife always did leave me satisfy this passion.
At last I have to say that collecting and painting flats can lead you to other dangerous interests
I now collect old flats from the end of the 1900’s years and also and most expensive, old books about the story of costumes.
Just a little advise to young collectors : do not buy anything, look at the quality of engraving and take the best There are probably hundreds thousands figures on the market. Some people say it is better start with big scale figures (54,70mm); I am of sure of that; the biggest the figure is , the hardest it will be to avoid mistakes
And last advise : go to Kulmbach!
(Editor’s Note: Here are a few more of the photos Eric sent me.)