Sunday, 18 September 2011

Bringing back dirty...

Currently I am knee deep in the painting part of my entry for the Open competition at next week's Games Day. I spent far too long on conversion work and building the base so am currently painting at warp speed. It hasn't helped that there have been a number of false starts on various painting tasks.

I'd originally planned a somewhat Eavy Metal style paintjob with bright colours, contrasts and lot's of sharp edge highlighting but time constraints and my lack of recent painting practice has set me on a different path.

Regular readers will know I'd been playing with one hour paintjobs and a lot of washes in the months before my move to Nottingham. A much dirtier style and it's been kind of fun. So there had been a part of me wanting to play with a more radical painting approach on a competition entry. I'm not going to go into the details of this today as I'll probably be wanting to talk about my Open entry after next week when I see if my new approach has caused me to crash and burn...

However... it does bring me to my point. What's so wrong with dirty miniatures. Now, I'm not talking about sloppy or poor painting but why does it always have to be so clean and meticulous. I'm not just talking Eavy Metal style here, there seems to be a feeling in the larger minis world that painting has to be perfect blends to stand up to microscope scrutiny. There are other ways. When I started painting back in the eighties, gritty atmosphere on minis was pretty much the norm. Now, painting quality has improved so much since then but did we have to leave the style behind?

I had my first chance to take a good look at some of John Blanche's minis a few months back and I found them profoundly awesome. Given that John was one of the major forces behind the modern minis hobby it's perhaps ironic that his style has ended up as something of a counterculture. In viewing his miniatures close up you really can see the thought process and the layers of detail. It's not something that is best served by photographs of his work.

So, I've been on something of a mission over the last week or so to reinvent what I'm doing in terms of painting. Been fun so far. My entry is in many pieces so I'm rather looking forward to the time when I can get them put together and see how the various elements work together. I'm pretty sure it will be something of a departure from my normal style regardless of how well it comes out.

But it's something to think about. Do we always have to be so neat and tidy?

Hopefully I'll soon be able to talk a little more about what I've been getting up to on this miniature. There will be a blog post very soon to introduce you to a new technique I have been using on this figure. I'm calling it scrubbing and it's working pretty well for me...


  1. I am interested in seeing how this looks. I've been a fan of Shawn Lux's work (Shawn R.L. on CMON) since I started painting, and I'm wondering if that's the sort of aesthetic you are talking about.

  2. I move between painting miniatures and more "traditional" painting (on canvas, paper, etc.) and find that I worry less and less about the perfection on miniatures, just as I don't aim for photo-realism on my other paintings. While I respect people who do photo-realism (in both cases) I can also appreciate other styles.

    I think your comment about "not best served by photos" hits on something. The better quality and availability of digital cameras and popularity of looking at eye candy online has really pushed "perfection." But there is a difference between seeing a figure in person compared to seeing it in photos online (just as with most other art.)

  3. can i draw attention to legionofplastic blog bi migs - i have a couple of weather/battle beaten ones on there which demonstrate mi painterly approach - cant do the perfect style - but i dont require smooth but something that relates more to a rembrandt painting ......

  4. Nice to get into this blog, via J.B.'s and OkkiW's linking.

    Now we are talking about a subject I love. The evolution, or perhaps the lack of, of miniature painting as an art form. Five years ago I went to my first GD and won a daemon, and realized that much as I adore the technical brilliance, something was amiss in all of the top work. I spent a few years thinking about it really.

    I considered the history of painting (2d) and what happened when the camera came around and I considered the act of miniature painting and decided that I would reinvent my own approach completely. And I did. It's now starting to bear some fruit.

    At times I still stray, I get preoccupied by technical evaluation of peers, then I study John's visionary and elemental painting; Daintons Illustrations that switch from a mess to acute detail flawlessly; a super gifted digital artist Goodbrush and his work; and some of the work I did where the free spirit was with me. One day hopefully, I have the opportunity to bring some of this work to a GD again.

    Anyway, off to read your blog :)


  5. Looking forward to seeing your results too. I've been trying to capture a grungy used look on a model just a bit bigger than 28mm ;) emulating Simon Bisleys art style.
    Migs blog rocks btw :)

  6. Painting "dirty" has always fascinated me, yet I'm somehow always avoiding the technique for some subconscious reason. Maybe I'm still having some sort of post-traumatic symptoms from the 'eavy Metal syndrome that I had when I restarted my hobby? I thought that I was over it, but clearly I still have some barriers to get over with...

    I like the idea of painting more open minded and having more fun when painting miniatures, creating art if I may put it that way. Now it's not always the case with me. Sometimes I even wonder why the hell am I still painting 'couse I don't feel that I'm getting that much out of it. But when I talk with the other hobbyists and artists and share the frustration I'm feeling, I get this huge boost of energy to get back to the painting station and keep on going.

    Clearly there's some reason (other than just getting old) why many talented painters have started to use this technique. Seeing Migsula's, Steve's and J.B.'s awesome experimental paintings and reading your blog posts/comments have opened some sort of a port in my brain and now that mystical port is luring me to explore these new plains of creativity. Maybe I'll try to give it a chance in my next project…

  7. i have very little mini time available and over the years mi eyesight has not kept its accuracy nor very close focal length - mi illustration has become less tight and mi love for more expressive styles of art has grown - as mi tastes have changed in art they have become match in mini painting - a looser more weathered look has become very appealing teamed with a realisation that i cannot do the ultra smooth techniques that have become the criteria for miniatures these days - so i have started painting minis using the same techniques as i would an illustration only wearing two pairs of glasses instead of one - honest ......

  8. Congratulations on your bronze, Steve! I bought myself a corpse cart a wee while back so I expect a full tutorial on your dirty dirty techniques so I can replicate your prize winning work! ;)

  9. come on steve shows us the finished piece - got a few i phone shots from last monday to .....

  10. I still need to crop photos from Steve's CC and then be sending 'em to him...

  11. Good question - does our painting have to be clean?

    Yes - if we want to win contests, if we want to please the crowds. People seem to admire clean and bright paintjobs more (good for you, Steve) - maybe because they're more pleasing to their eyes? And technical perfection is always appreciated at contests.

    No - if you ask me, creative approach and imaginative concepts are more important to me. That's where my take differs from many people's. That is also one of the reasons why I simply love many of John Blanche's works (thank you for them, John!) although they're so far from current trends in mini painting. It's also something about the definition of miniature painting: art or not? To me miniature painting can be art (although most often it is not) but many people only see it as a craft.

    If you consider miniature painting as a craft, what you seek is only skill, experience, technical mastery. If you find any kind of art in it, you look for artist's expression, personal interpretation, creativity, and often even innovative approach. Most people don't agree with my take and it makes them look for technical aspects (smooth blending, color theory, composition) than those that belong to the field of art.

    OK, I know it may sound controversial, but it's my take on it.