Sunday, June 28, 2015

Whats Next? And a few thoughts on competition painting

Work is taking me away from the painting table for the next few days and, as I near completion on Sorondil, I began to think about what my next big project will be.  After the Bay Area Open in two weeks, I don't have plans to attend any in-person competitions until next year's Crystal Brush so that gives me a lot of time to focus on my entries for it. I was incredibly pleased with how that show went last time around, but my goal for next year is to place in a non-historical category.  The 28mm scale isn't my strength, so that leaves me to focus on Large Scale, Diorama, or something like Fantasy Monster/Vehicle.  As I look around for a good project there are a couple of things I'm considering...

1) It has to be a figure I want to paint.  If you're painting purely for competition and not because you actually want to paint it, you will burn out and find it difficult to devote as much time to it as it really needs.

2) I want a figure that will allow me to show off my strengths.  Whether it's freehand, OSL, NMM, weathering techniques, faces, or any of the other things that can make you stand out, if you're good at it then use it!

3) Finally, I want a figure that, even without me doing anything to it, is a neat eye catching figure.  There's a reason why the winning figures are often champions, generals, and standard bearers and not just plain ol infantry.  Higher quality sculpts, dynamic poses, lots of details, and interesting features will give you a leg up over a generic figure painted to the same standard.

I put those in what I consider their order of importance.  But, for a highly competitive show like the Crystal Brush, I want to check as many of those boxes as possible.  It's important to paint well, but when so many other painters are also painting at a high level you need to do something to stand out!

Okay, so here are a few figures I'm considering...

Going left to right we have
(1) Captain of the Hussars - 75mm Pegaso. I love the sculpt, lots of great detail, but in the end it would just be a nice looking historical piece. Would it really stand out? Perhaps but it could definitely be out shined by other entries.
(2) Northumbrian Warriar - 54mm Latorre. This is just there for the sake of scale. This is the sized figure I normally do, so you can get an idea of how much larger the other pieces are.
(3) Cyanolith - 90 or 120mm sculpted by Carmine Giugliano. I doubt many of you have seen this kit before, although you may be familiar with the art it's based on, Paul Bonner's Ogre Jockey. It was done about 2 years ago and, with Paul Bonner's approval, was released in limited numbers. I've only just begun assembling it, there are a lot of pieces missing from the picture. It is a fun crazy figure, lots of character. Now this is something that would definitely stand out in a competition. It's also huge. I'd have to fix it so that I could make some parts removable just so I could travel with it. It would definitely be the biggest kit I've ever done. Even if I start it now, no idea if I'd be able to finish in time. I'm also not sure if this would qualify as a large scale figure or if it would have to go into diorama (in my opinion, the toughest category).
(4) Elf Dragon Prince - 90mm Micheal Kontraros. Another neat kit that isn't widely known. Lots of flowing cloth to do design work. I've got a pretty good idea how I want to paint this (in the style of Nuada from Hellboy 2). It's a cool sculpt and, with a lot of freehand, it could stand out from the other entries.

Plenty to think about.  Right now I'm leaning more towards Cyanolith or the Elf. Cyanolith would be really cool, but I worry it's too ambitious a project. As big as it is, maybe I should wait until I'm more comfortable with other techniques like the air brush or oils.  Most likely I will give it a go.  If I start on the big ogre, I can see how it goes and how long it's taking me.  If I'm not making enough progress I can always switch over to the elf.

I'm still focusing on Sorondil and the Bay Area Open for the next two weeks.  But, after that, we'll see what I pick for the next project.


  1. As much as I love the Cyanolith (being a proud owner as well), my vote is for the Elf Dragon Prince. I think the Elf is more your type, and it offers more opportunity for invention and creativity, especially to show off your freehand.

    You could paint tatoos on the Cyanolith perhaps, but, to me, that model is all about Bonner. Embellishing that model dilutes and distracts from the character and personality that Bonner already captures in that piece. In my opinion, the Cyanolith almost traps an artist to paint it like Bonner, or else the piece "breaks". Plus, there's the dilemma of transporting that thing and worrying about breaking a limited edition model. I would paint that piece and show it at local and regional shows, to blow people's minds and introduce them to Bonner. It wouldn't have quite the same impact at Crystal Brush. The judges and competition at Crystal Brush know the piece and would judge it compared to other renditions that have gone before it. Just my opinion, mind you. Take with a large grain of salt.

    1. Definitely some valid points there. Although as a guy who does a lot of historical figures, approaching a project where the basic look/colors are set doesn't bother me as much. When I paint the piece, I plan to follow Bonner's art and do my best to recreate the look, but it will be a mix of my style and his. I'm not good enough to exactly mimic his look, a lot of my style will bleed through whether I want it to or not. Hopefully that will make for an interesting end result.

      The judges may be familiar with the piece, although I've looked and only seen one other version painted online (and it was nothing all that impressive). If you've seen some nice versions I'd love to get the links or pictures if you have them. I feel like it's a rather obscure piece (the sculpt, not the original art) but maybe I'm wrong.

      Transport is definitely a scary issue. I'm trying to create as secure a build as I can. My hope is to make the lances removable (working on the logistics of that), which, if I can't, will mean there's no way I could fly with it.

      I would like to start on it and, once I do, I think I'll have a much better idea of how my style will mash up with the original look. As you said, the elf definitely lends itself to more creativity and invention, so it's a solid plan B if I need it.