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Development/biography of a painter...part 1

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Never quite sure how to start these things, so I'll get straight into my first blog post with a fairly biggie. It's a tale of a journey through one painters life thus far, and the thoughts/dilemmas we've all no doubt faced at various times in our lives with regards to painting.

It all started before the days of the internet...(by the way, I'm 26 for those that were wondering)

A neighbour's older brother had a selection of 3rd edition Warhammer, which I became fascinated with at the age of 10 or so. This led to me getting a copy of Heroquest (the 'gateway drug' of the early/mid 90s) and my first couple of issues of WD. Once I had my first minis, I was not only desperate to emulate the 'Eavy metal painters seen in the magazine, but I was also keen to just get to the level of the models I'd seen in the flesh. At this stage, for the first 3/4 years, it was all about painting anything I could get my hands on, with little thought for shading, washes, drybrushing, etc.

Even at this age though, the dilemma was already settling in my head. Did I want to be a top painter or have loads of armies to play with? Could I ever combine the two to have a kick arse well painted army with everything to the highest standard?

At around 14/15, I started to improve. I was using new techniques, and beginning to highlight. The internet was just coming into the fore of hobbying, although primarily for rumours and discussing tactics. My local GW started running competitions and because I had nothing better to do after school, I was able to notch up a string of victories over the 2 year period or so. Looking back, I would call some of these models tabletop standard, some were scarily at a level I would do now if rushed. I was starting to convert and play around with interesting bases, and so forth.
I harboured ambitions of winning Golden demons (back then though, I was already too old for Youngbloods), but realising I was a few years off, perhaps I could put the same effort into an army and take a best army nod at a Grand tournament...(how naive I was!)

Thankfully, at the time, I was also lucky enough to have amassed at least 2 armies for each system, and by the time I was 18 I had an Empire army I was very proud of, with 3 stage highlights on every model and my Orcs were almost done too. However I think this is where I hit the crux of a majority of mini-painters once they hit a certain standard. Perfectionist's curse starts to kick in. Those rank and file that took a week to do now start taking three or four, and don't actually look significantly different despite the effort. That striking colour scheme starts to get bland and boring. The time taken on those first 5 and the smooth(ish) blends get dull and messy. You start to lose a bit of pride in the models as you feel you can do better, and you see others leaping in front of you (although admittedly this was mostly online). I found myself taking on random odd projects for my local store to push my skills and try new colour schemes, and followed the WD painting guides for the newly released fellowship of the ring to the tea, producing some of my best work at the time. This was a vital stage in determining the crossroads I'm at now, which I'll update in part 2 because my laptop's nearly dead!

Thanks for taking the time to read part 1, and hopefully the main point of all this (which is can competition painting and being a successful army painter with a demanding full time job be combined, or do I have to give up one to do the other?) will become clearer in the next few bits. Thanks for reading this if you get this far, I do tend to ramble...
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  1. Ulfgrimr's Avatar
    Interesting read Sparks, looking forward to part 2.
  2. Noddwyr's Avatar
    Ditto. Good read.
  3. seasonman's Avatar
    Really interesting and enjoyable read and insight into your painting past . Thank you