Wednesday, 31 January 2018

New Year, New Resolutions

As you can no doubt observe, I have not met my goal of regular blogging.  Its been a frantic few months, with Crystal Dragon preparation, moving house, and all sorts of other wild events.  I used to make a point of blogging after I finished a painting session, either that night, or the following morning.  But since some big changes in my personal life, I've prioritised painting or exercise, and of course, my proper job, over blogging.

I had a big slump in terms of the quality of the work I was putting out for a little period.  It coincided with the move to my new house, and a general sense of discombobulation around my painting.  However that has begun to dissipate as I settle into the new rhythm and routine.  And as a result, my painting quality has both begun to improve and become more consistent.

The biggest of the challenges I am facing with my painting at the moment is patience.  I feel like I am capable of producing a higher quality of work than I currently am, but to do so I need to spend more time.  It becomes more like work, and less like fun.  And since painting has been therapy, I have been not really interested in pushing myself harder.  Despite that, I've reached a point now where I feel like the time is right to try and pace myself, to slow down and really consider projects.  Before I get too deep into this, Crystal Dragon review!

Last years CD was my first real attempt at a painting competition.  I had not painted anything at all specifically for a contest before.  I entered 12 pieces, and received 3 gold, 2 silver and 7 bronze: Everything I entered received an award.  I was well chuffed. 

This year, I feel like I went in with mixed expectations.  Probably 90% of what I entered this year was significantly better than anything I entered last year, even the pieces that received a gold.  I've gotten much more contrast, much better usage of colour and really started to develop my own style.  Despite that, I was also aware that nothing I entered was the best piece it could have been, perhaps outside of the Barbarian.  So although I felt like I would do ok, I was also hesitant that the judges would recognise my laziness and punish me for it....

Either way though, the result was far less concerning than it was for me last year.  I wanted to do well last year, but this year I was much more concerned on talking with other painters, seeing other models and understanding ideas and concepts and really diving deep into the technical side of painting.  I am much more confident on what I know, and what my weaknesses are.  I also acknowledge that art is subjective, and on any given day people may think my work is amazing, or rubbish.  So getting wrapped up in the result is counterproductive to the goal of improving myself.

Out of my 18 entries this year, I received one gold, two silver, and one bronze.  This made me the second most succesful painter of the weekend, behind Macca, who also won the judges choice award.  A good result, and more pleasing was the great feedback I got from all the judges around how to take it to the next step: PATIENCE.

I have a mantra that I try to apply to all aspects of my life, the three Ps.  You can achieve anything you set your mind to, as long as you have Passion, Perseverance and Practice.  The last one making up the most important part.  Maybe I need to add the fourth P... Patience... LOL

Planning is one thing that Macca and I have talked about a lot, and in particular we discussed it on the weekend.  He sits down and plans everything, from colours to concept to basing, and is ready to go before he touches a model.  I am the absolute inverse of that, I sometimes make bases after painting, or make a base and find a model to put on it, I decide colours as I am going, or change up weapons or poses midway through a piece.  Its fun, frenetic and will result in some things coming out great, some coming out average and others never getting finished because they are so bad. 

I need to actively start planning a piece before I consider putting paint to model, think about atmosphere, about focal points, about colour scheme and concept and reference art and all these other things so that I am challenging myself to achieve a goal.  This year I plan to mix up my painting and add in a few really big time intensive project pieces that I can focus on in addition to the usual method of painting for fun.


In this post I reviewed my 2016 as a whole, and set myself some goals.  I am now going to review them to see how I went!

1.  I want to try to paint something for as long as it takes to be "perfect".
Definitely did not achieve this. In fact, I may have gotten worse. FAIL.

2. Paint the "best" thing I've painted.
I think I did this, over the course of my natural progression as most of my recent pieces are leaps and bounds ahead of Surt/ Jessica. PASS.

3. Take more classes.
Took another class with Meg, a sculpting class with Romain, and am about to have a class with Roman Gruba this weekend.  So I'll give myself a PASS here.

4. Learn to sculpt, both digital and IRL.
I have started this process, but I am still a long way off.  I sculpted three heads last year, and learnt a lot along the way.  Digital, still nothing.  FAIL.

5. Paint with more colours, and more vibrancy.
Definitely have a whole different experience of colours now, and feel like I am beginning to scratch the surface of how I can paint things differently and with powerful colours. PASS

6. Improve my basing.
Definitely a weak point still, but with some improvements along the way.  SHIPREKT, a few of the recent bases I have done, and the current piece I am working on, it is all heading in a good direction. PASS

7. Keep blogging!

My New Goals
1. Plan more projects
Spend more time deciding on a concept, finding some reference material, painting to a specific plan of action and ultimately, a better result.

2. Improve my sculpting to sculpt an actual bust
Once I feel the urge strike I shall pull out my sculpting tools and start trying again.

3. Keep improving my basing
Have more of a plan will help this one, but also just be willing to take more time making good elements to use on bases.

4. Paint something innovative
I've had a number of ideas that I've executed well, but nothing that was mind blowing or innovative.  I have some ideas that I think could tick this box, so lets see if I can make those a reality.

5. Blog more
Same as last year.

6. Be more PATIENT
Well, this is the biggest challenge and also the key to the biggest success for me. If I can simply slow down and take more time with projects there is no doubt I will achieve a greater proportion of amazing models, and less rubbish models.  The challenge is balancing that with doing stuff for fun, and stuff for competition/ pure art standards.

Appreciate you following along with my rambles!

Monday, 11 September 2017

Updates Galore

Seems like a long time since an update!  3 months to be precise. :)  I have a few things on my mind, and I prefer painting to blogging, but I am committing to making a more regular occurrence of blogging.

I have not been idle during this time away from the keyboard.  The difficult thing for me has been feeling positive about my work.  I see so many incredible artists who produce masterpieces, of vibrant colours, intense contrast and exceptional innovation.  I find it both equally motivating and disheartening.  Sometimes I bring things together into a piece that I am really happy with, other times it just does not quite feel right.

I have painted a few pieces recently that other great painters have also painted, like Conan and the Lost Princess, and the Fade by Mirico.  It is interesting when I compare my own work to others.  Roman Lappat and Sergio Calvo Rubio have painted version of the Conan, which I've put beside mine here in this image:

The piece on the left is done by Roman, right by Sergio.  Mine falls down a lot when placed beside these, you can see how incredible the atmosphere on Roman's piece is, so much beautiful colour hidden in each little area.  Sergio has the most incredible blends, great harmonious colour and such vibrant contrast.

Once again, I know where I am falling down.  It's time spent.  I get so enthusiastic about new pieces, incredible models out there that I want to paint, and I lose steam on a piece.  I need to be able to motivate myself into painting a piece until it is done, and not when I get bored.

Or at least, that is what I need to do if my goal is to improve the end result of my pieces.  I am not really sure if that is my goal at this moment.  I think my goal is to paint, to enjoy my art, and to experiment with the beauty that can be created in miniature painting.

I find myself trying to expand the way I see colours and paint things "different".  I would like to be able to finish a piece and have someone not be able to easily recognise it as mine, because it has such diversity of style.  Maybe thats not an achievable goal, or even necessarily a good one, but I am going to keep pushing.

In other great news, I've managed to sell quite a few works recently to some fantastic collectors.  They've been exceptional to deal with, and have been very appreciative of my work.  It is so humbling for me, that people enjoy my work enough to pay hard earned money for it.  I also ran a painting class, which was successful enough that I've organised a second one for a few weeks from now.  I'll do a more detailed writeup on that in the near future.  The models I painted for the class are below (three pirates!)

I also entered in the Queensland Model Hobby expo with the following pieces.

I scored two Gold, for the Elf Rider, and the Twisted Shaman, two Silver, for Excelsy and the Minotaur Gladiator, and three bronze, for Conan, Father of Asgard and Red Riding Hood.  This was a nice point for me to reflect, because I entered last year with a number of pieces, and got three Bronze.  I don't paint models for competition, I paint because I love it, but the acknowledgement of my mentors, and peers is nice for motivation.

Here are some of the works I've done over the last three months, and a WIP of my latest piece.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Father of Asgard, Photo Step by Step

A step by step of the Father of Asgard by Scale 75.  I'll let the pictures do the talking again.  The wet in wet blending stages early on shaped the whole model's scheme and it was pretty much unplanned.

Strength and Honour, and Some Thoughts

Been a little while since a blog post, but I am not sweating the lack of them.  I tend to spent more time painting than posting, which I figure is a good thing!

I have been struggling a bit lately with my perceptions of my work.  I look at the work I have done recently and I am unhappy with the way it looks.  I feel like I overuse white, and that I focus on brightness as my only source of value contrast.  That results in a lack of saturation, where the overall colours can appear pastel, or lacking power.

Some examples of what I mean.

The difference in these works vs my own (obviously outside of the hours that get put into them), is how the colours have more power, because they use saturation to control the contrast.  One of the best exponents of this is Marc Masclans, whose work very rarely goes up to a white highlight, even at the brightest points.

My other problem is that all my work seems to look the same.  And that stems from the fact that I use the same colours, I have default colours that I like to use because they work well, or I like how I paint them.  Skin colour is a key one, I tend to use the same colours and it always results in the same look.

I wanted to try and challenge myself out of my comfort zone, and it started with the Minotaur that I painted a few weeks ago.  I wanted to push the colours and use different stuff, and one of the bigger challenges was NMM.  I've never painted it, I've always lacked confidence in it.  I decided to give it a crack and see if I could pull it off.  I was happy with my first attempt.

Again, I fell into similar patterns on other colours and could not get a model that looked different to my other works.

I painted up the Father of Asgard, from Scale 75, and tried a completely different base of blues for the shading in the skin.  I felt like I started it off well, but then things fell away again when I got to the later stages and I kept using the same colours and techniques.  There was a big improvement on my NMM though, and that came from recognising where I went wrong on the Minotaur.

Bringing my to my latest piece, the Strength and Honour bust from Ares Mythologic.

I wanted to focus more on the saturation of the piece, and use pure chroma (or hue) to be my highlights on the areas that were not metallic.  I failed, again, but I think I am heading in the right direction.  I used grey mixed into the basecoat of my skin, then shaded with a bit more grey added, and used the pure colour to highlight.  I then added white and colours into the mix and added that to the skin.

I did get a few things that I am happy with.  Firstly, the gold NMM I think is really cool.  The dappling effect on the armour looks mad, and that was actually a really easy process.  I used a stiff bristled brush and stippled on colours over the red base tone, all the way up to an off white.  I then glazed over a few different colours in the shadows and over the piece just to harmonise it all together.

Hair continues to be a problem that I just don't seem to get right.  When it is hair that is smooth and well sculpted, I can usually get it looking ok, but rough hair is something I always seem to fail hard on.  This is a fail also.

I know one area that I could easily change, and that I would get an immediate improvement: the time I spend on models.  I know for a fact that I get bored, or get interested in painting something else, and when that happens it is very hard for me to keep at a model.  I generally paint a piece in 10-15 hours.  Seems like a long time, but in painting little toy soldiers to a display standard, it is lightning quick.  And it is the biggest thing that is holding me back, I believe.

So where to?  Obviously I am not letting this sense of frustration at my lack of reaching the level of work I want to prevent me from painting.  Literally the only way you can improve at something is to keep making mistakes and learning from them.  It is one of the things I think I have really learnt over the last ten years in my hobby life.  You have to embrace getting flogged, or being shit, or making a bad decision, or fucking up.  It is not easy.  Nothing worth having ever is.  So I will push on, keep painting, and keep trying to take that next step up into a model that I am happy with.

That becomes hard though, when I consider the time factor.  I don't know if I can spend more time on a model that I already do.  Maybe if it is something I am super motivated by, and everything is working beautifully.  I think before I can start devoting more time to a single project, I need to be able to feel like my skills are worthy of spending that time.  I am going to keep challenging myself to try new things, and learn more and experiment with how colours and things interact together and focus on those saturation elements that I feel are letting me down.  Once I feel like I actually understand them, I can hopefully feel confident enough to know where I am going with a piece.

Thanks for reading!


Saturday, 20 May 2017

The Minotaur, Part 2

I am just going to let the photos do the talking.  If you have any questions, add a comment, Tweet or email me!