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  • Painting with Golem- Daemon Day at Maelstrom

    Golem Daemon Day Review
    Through a quirky twist of being useless at organising myself, I found myself returning to Mansfield, home of Maelstrom and empty wallets, in order to improve my painting. The Wamp 2011 event had already shown me that this was a good location for like minded painters to gather around and chat hobby. This time around, Golem Studios had organised a different kind of event, with 4 very qualified tutors, designed to improve your level of painting. Overall there were 17 eager learners, with a wide range of abilities, all of us hoping to gleam something from truly top painters like Mike and Ali McVey.

    Each painter was given a palette, notebook, pen and area to work in, and the tutors had their best/most famous models on display to serve as ample inspiration. Paints of all brands and colours were there to borrow, though many painters bought their own and Maelstrom did a pretty nice turnover as colour schemes, favourite colours and new experiments were carried out.

    The day started proper with a brief introduction by Tommie Soule, one of the founders of Golem, and he provided his outlook on painting and mantras for us to follow, such as making the effort to repeat what we’ve learnt, and not just revert to form. In addition to any of the techniques learnt, this mantra had one of the largest impacts over the course of the day, and certainly forced me to focus and make the most out of a great opportunity.

    The Painting begins


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    There was no timetable for the day, so after Tommie’s introduction people started on their projects for the day. As ever, there were a wide range of models on hand, including Scibor and of course McVey minis, as well as a fair number of GW models. Mike McVey’s offer to demonstrate his blending had about 10 takers, and it was fascinating to hear that he hadn’t changed his style of painting for over 20 years. I won’t go into specifics here, but if you’ve seen the two brush blending video on the McVey site you’ll get the gist.

    After that, it was back to the paint stations. The real joy of the day was having 20-30 minute discussions with the 4 tutors and getting a real sense of directed tuition and feedback. Tommie gave me and my neighbour advice on relaxing and using the ‘rule of cool’ to determine highlights, etc. He also showed an alternative to the two brush blending, which involved a lot of brush licking, and had a quick discussion about the use of MDF as a palette. After a brief demo of his flesh recipe, I set about applying this to a practice model and was very happy to see that by following the mantra (Do what you’ve been shown!), there was a subtle but noticeable improvement in my painting.

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    An hour later, I had Mike McVey at my side, chatting about my Games Day entries and giving some really useful pointers on colour choices, drawing attention to difficult areas and overall composition. Getting advice from a Crystal Brush judge was invaluable, and not something you can easily get face to face. As we all know, internet forums are great for getting help, but cameras always let us down despite our best efforts!
    Lunch in the bar ended up with a great detailed discussion about motorbikes and airbrushes, including a surreal moment when a fellow painter remarked how Heroquest got him into the hobby only to have Mike say ‘I remember painting the models for the box!’ Brief nostalgia trip over, it was back to the painting. I took the chance to wander around and nose at everyone else’s work, and there was some really nice stuff being produced. The rest of the afternoon for me was spent learning metallics from Dave Nield (who did the Runtbot that won Bronze last year at GD), who was a great tutor and we ended up having a long chat about the hobby, which was great and added to the enjoyment of the day. Again, having a practical demo in front of you really brings it to life and makes it that much easier to follow!

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    Time to go
    The event ended at 5, with a round of applause for the hard working tutors! They must have given everyone at least half an hour of individual help, and constantly came back and were keen to check on your progress. Certainly for me, I felt that my needs and targets were catered for, and that even in the space of a couple of hours I had progressed nicely. We then headed down to the bar to chat about the day, look at our various purchases and have a nice couple of beers. I look forward to repaying Endor with a beer next time we meet!

    Final Verdict

    Thanks to Tommie and the guys for organising this inaugural event. Much like Wamp, it was the first of its kind, and this is why I’d like to end the article with a bit of a review for future events. This is a summary of discussions in the pub and my own thoughts. The day itself ran from 10-5, with about an hour for lunch, though most people used this to go shopping. Whilst I had initial concerns about the lack of a structure to the day, the freeform nature actually worked pretty well, and the tutors were approachable and flexible to suit your needs. I sadly didn’t get the chance to talk to Ali, but I know from others that her feedback and comments were really helpful, and those around me were equally chuffed at their own quick progress.

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    It was impressive to see success over quite a large group, so again, hats off to everyone involved. At £80 for the day, it was good value compared to similar events, especially considering the quality on offer. Travel to Mansfield isn’t always easy, but even those that came from abroad found it very worthwhile! The timing of the event was to help out those with Golden Demon aspirations, but there was a wide range of abilities and everyone was able to take something from the day, and it’d be hard not to have come away more confident in your own skills after something like this.

    Of course, this wouldn’t be a review without a bit of balance, so just a few thoughts for the future…

    More targeted demos. Tommie could have saved himself some oxygen by giving a lighting demo to a larger group for example (I think I heard ‘There might be 4 moons!’ about 6 times!), and it would’ve been good to see each tutor put one of their skillsets forward in a group demo. This may have taken away some of the 1:1 tuition, but it would save the tutors some time and energy, and I'm sure many people were asking for similar advice.

    More awareness of the aims of the day. I went on the assumption it would be full of people aiming for demons. There were certainly painters of that quality around, and it was fantastic to see lots of people improving at various levels (again hints at the quality of teaching), but perhaps if the advertising made it clearer it was for anyone seeking to improve, they might get more takers next year. I also think a trick was missed in Mike from Golem (not McVey) in teaching a speed painting session for those army painters. (Note- I only found out about his abilities in the pub afterwards!)


    Return customers- I’ve mentioned this to Tommie already, and I really enjoyed the event, but I’m not sure if I could justify it year on year unless I really had a target in mind. Naturally, it’s hard to turn down such an opportunity though and I’m sure I can find another excuse to go next year! I'm intrigued to know who the other special guests were intended to be, as I forgot to ask and I think it was reliant on ticket sales.

    A commemorative model for the day- with all your contacts, I’d be amazed if a Demon Day figure couldn’t be produced somehow, and could possibly attract more punters.

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    Like I said though, on the whole a really productive day and as far as feedback goes, I think Golem were left with a lot of happy customers. Now back to those Golden Demon entries…

    Here are some pictures of people's models on the day. I haven't included many as I can't credit them (hence the multiple pictures of myself and one of Endor).

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    You can find Golem Painting Studios http://www.golempaintingstudio.co.uk/here:
    Comments 3 Comments
    1. skippen's Avatar
      skippen -
      Thanks for the report.
    1. Ulfgrimr's Avatar
      Ulfgrimr -
      Great report Sparks, many thanks, and glad to hear you got alot from it. I toyed with the idea of attending this when it was put up on WaMP earlier this year and will definately give it serious consideration if it's run again next year.
    1. Endor's Avatar
      Endor -
      Hi Adam, good fun meeting you at the event :)Just finished writing a loong comment, was logged out and everything disappeared. Damn. I'll make it short, then! Agree on all points, and hope to get the chance to attend next year as well. Hope to see more wampers there! Btw who is the movie-star learning to paint nubian skin from Ali McVey??