Saturday, April 28, 2012

I feel like I'm at a crossroads...

While my lights are galavanting around Illinois in the back of a truck, I'm kind of left to ramble on about my recent hobby thoughts. Hopefully by this time next week I'll have my lights back and I'll snap some photos of my ongoing projects and save you from the tedium that it sure to follow ; )


Over the last few years I've been thinking/plotting about improving my painting skills and making some really solid attempts at competing in a number of different painting competitions. The only hang up is that learning these skills will take a while, and then practicing them will take even longer. Practice, practice, practice. Why is this a problem? Well, it'll cut deeply into my "army painting time".

Army painting is what I do. I love developing a concept, assembling the models, painting them all, and having an army to show for it at the end. I really don't even care if the army ever makes it on to the tabletop. But it's the journey at "does it" for me. The creating.

So here I stand, at a crossroads.

Actually, I think I've moved on a little past the crossroads, down the familiar highway. Perhaps I might take the next exit labeled "Competition Painting", perhaps not.


Well, I'm jumping into the Procession of Morr/Armies on Parade Project with both feet. I've sculpted up some heads, arms, and shields that are currently in the hands of friends who are casting them up for me. I've just built another 10 Flagellants, and have five Knights of Morr ready for primer (as soon as I get a few photos). It'll be a busy two months to get everything done before the June 30 in-store event, but I'm sure I can get it all done.

Additionally, we (the Guns of April crew) had a great time at our game at Adepticon and you can check out the post-game post here. I'm enjoying messing around with Napoleonic army painting so much that I'm starting up two new armies. So, along with the British I'll have three on the go. My current plan is to paint one Russian unit, one French unit, and one British, then back to a Russian unit, a French unit, and a British unit, and so on. With no big game planned anytime soon, I expect I'll be able to leisurely wind my way through all sorts of fun regiments on my journey. Oh, you may have also noticed a massive jump in the number of models purchased (in the little ticker in the right hand column). 228 of those new models are Napoleonic in nature. I have a bunch of Victrix early French that I plan to use for Spanish regiments, and some wonderful Polish models sculpted by Paul Hicks just waiting for some blue paint.


And who knows, I might put together another rambling, photo-free post over the next few days. There are a few topics I haven't rambled about yet. But until then...

Have fun painting!



  1. I've been down that crossroads and passed by that Exit called "competition painting". I too enjoy the army creation process much more than painting a few models a year. Its the process that sucks me in. Many many Vikings staring at me at the moment....


  2. Dave, I reckon there's a middle road there that you aren't seeing, the one that involves learning new skills on character models and practicing them across the characters, and by the third one you've figured out ways to shave off time enough to make moving some of those over to the troops, or at least elite units, possible. Then of course, by the time you do that, you've gotten that technique down well enough that you have a "lite" version that you can apply to the troops of your next army, and learn something else new on the characters, or other one-off models!

  3. Yeah, I'm all about the army creation, but what I have found is, I don't have the endurance to paint up Napoleonic sized armies, and I am easily distracted, I have found I can battle the distraction by working on small battle forces, I'm finding 15mm scifi perfect for that.

  4. Hi Dave,

    Your armies and painting are already an inspiration to so many people, if you want to improve your display painting level, hopefully you'll share that journey with us - your blog is always a great read. I would say there's a fair few uber painters out there who churn out, oo 10 figures a year, but very few who can match what you do well - produce characterful, great looking armies in frankly unbelievable time scales. All this as a hobby too!

    So if you do decide to dedicate more time to the few, please take the occasional break to produce a regiment to remind us all how its done :)

  5. I think you already have enough mastery of the skills and techniques needed for competition painting. As you identified, its more of a time thing than anything else.

    Maybe take a month off from army painting to solely focus on 1 or 2 models?

    The Jeremy Bonamant painting DVD is also very good if you are wanting to look more at various techniques. Got it a few years ago and it was very insightful.

    Whatever you decide to do, we are all looking forward to the results :)

  6. Always stay with what gives you the most enjoyment as that keeps the enthusiasm going.
    If your already seriously thinking about the miniatures you won't get painted before you have even started the competition painting process then my advice is don't take the exit.
    Remember, it's your hobby and there is nothing saying you have to do anything other then what you want.
    BTW, your painting is superb as it is and would have no problems competing if your asking yourself that.;-)
    I'm happy your going more and more the historical route and really look forward to seeing more. I won't be surprised if more and more periods attract you as that's how the bug bites.


  7. Ramble On! I've hit this point several times and usually opt for something like Faolan (Jake) suggested. I tend to aim for the 90% solution, knowing I'd prefer to get a unit out on the tabletop and move onto the next painting project than trying to make every unit "Golden Demon worthy" and never getting anything finished.

  8. Dave, I feel your pain. I too get stuck on "army painting" and have a hard time settling down for just a unit or miniature. That's where you can really hone your skills. Best of luck. I am going to make a point of trying a new technique in all my projects moving forward. It may take 10 years but we'll get there!

  9. I was talking with Dave Pauwels at Adepticon about how I see myself as an army painter, and always have been. While I appreciate the Golden Demon comps, I have way more fun coming up with the story and look of an army, and then making it appear on the table!

    I used to build stadiums for every one of my blood bowl teams, and essentially I do the same thing now for each of my armies.

    While I applaud those who spend 3 years on one figure for Games Day, I would rather paint up my LOTR, WFB and 40k armies to play, and then toss the minis in to a competition as afterthoughts.

    I will even choose an army based on how many non-existent units that I can convert or sculpt :-)

    Why else would I make a Civil War Dwarf theme army!?

    Cheers, and happy painting...

  10. I think some of the other comments have already said it best. Stick with what you love about the hobby.

    I think we all come to that point where maybe we feel like we should be doing one thing over another or we have two things that pull us in opposite directions with only enough time for one of them.

    There are lots of facets to this hobby. If you enjoy both, why not set one down for a little bit and try out the other aspect. You can always come back if it turns out it's not as fun as you thought it might be.

    Ron, FTW

  11. I'm looking over with envy from the other side of the tracks, Dave. I think I can state (with reasonable certainty) that I have unknowingly ended up as a display/competition painter on getting back into the hobby 6-7 years ago. It has been my intention to get an army of my own built and painted since the beginning, even a small one. Up to this point, though, even a completed 500 point force of anything for 40K (my preferred gaming game) has escaped me.

    In my first attempt at starting an army, I managed to complete only a single squad of Tau Fire Warriors that I entered with a few other one-off figures in the 2007 Chicago Golden Demon competition. The squad won an Honorable Mention, the other one-off figures did as well, and the Gandalf figure that I'd spent a number of months painting (and built a custom display bridge for) ended up winning Silver.

    I took a stab at a small Necron force, started gathering up bits for a Chaos Marine and Renegade Imperial Guard force... and then a Skaven Warlord I lavished time (and another small display base on) ended up winning Bronze the following Chicago Games Day.

    At this point I'm still trying to model and paint a playable force of my own - I've lowered my standards to even a Kill Team - but I keep getting caught up in painting figures to more of a display standard instead of just being able to grind through rank and file and actually finish an army. My now-firm belief, although I hope I'm wrong, is that the "skills" you talk about to be a "competition painter" - once you've "developed them" it is very difficult to cut back and just get something done to a "reasonable" standard without the obsessive just-let-me-try-one-more-thing-and-see-how-it-turns-out continually wanting to creep in.

    Good luck regardless, but are you absolutely sure you want to get off on that "Competition Painting" exit? Just sayin'...

  12. Nothin' at the Crossroads 'cept Ol' Scratch looking for more souls Dave. As a hobbyist/model builder for over thirty years, I can say that it's your overall armies and their themes that inspire me, as opposed to individual models.(OK...well maybe a few)

  13. Lots of great advice in the comments already, so it seems I might just be a little late to the party ;-) So let me just chime in and say that it's really your amazing armies that keep inspiring me during my own work, Dave.

    For example, I am still looking at the WD issue with your fantastic Custodes army on a regular basis and have even started my own small Custodes project as a result.

    Whereas all the (admittedly fantastic) competition miniatures all over the net just start blurring into one over time, but that's just my opinion.

    Something that has always helped me a lot when I was in need for a change of pace or wanted to step outside my comfort zone painting-wise was to focus on smaller projects like Killteams or Inquisitor retinues.

    Anyway, it's really your choice and whatever you choose will be right for you. Just keep blogging about it, you hear? ;-)

  14. I have found myself in this same position/state of mind a few times during my painting career. I think I've always been happiest when I strike the right balance, the "happy medium."

    Now, that said, I just don't have the stamina or even the inclination to paint armies like you do. It just isn't realistic. But with the advent of the 'Guns of April' project, I feel like I can spend a year working on an "army" while still fundementally focusing on competition (this year it will be Games Day, Gen Con, and the MMSI show).

    I think I enjoy the competition painting more, but I used to feel a lot more like Jim does- army planning and painting was the ultimate hobby realization. A whole army! But I know that the big difference between Jim and I now is that I, again, lack the stamina or inclination to play in three games on a single day.

    I guess I really haven't given you any advice, except that I feel ya. I think, after painting my French brigade, I am going to switch gears and do display pieces exclusively for a few months. But I'll get back to my ACW stuff and then the whole cycle can start again....

  15. i am on a similar road, i really enjoy creating good looking armies, but i also want to do some really good paintjobs for contests.

    for me, i think, this is the reason why my contest models mostly give me only bronze...

    but hey, i like what i do, and how i do it.
    it´s important that you enjoy what you do, it´s your hobby, have fun with it.


  16. One of my favorite parts about Adepticon is that 5 hours going to and coming back where I am forced to sit down and contemplate.