Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Being friends with painting "Failures" & getting inspiration

Well this blog is called Jacksarge's Wargames Ramblings , but I don't tend to do much "rambling", mostly I stick up pictures of completed work. Today, I thought I would have a brief ramble about painting related stuff - painting & aesthetics are two of the biggest interests I have in this hobby after all.

I recently read a cool forum post on the Reaper Forum that linked to this excellent illustrated rambling HERE.
This is really aimed at creative stuff but can easily be applied to all sorts of endeavours in life.
Basically it's encouraging people to "have a go", try something new, and don't beat yourself up because it doesn't look "right" first time - or maybe not for a long time :-)

I think it's great to develop your own techniques for painting miniatures, building models, stuff like that. Sometimes we can get hung up on being a painting clone of someone else like Kevin Dallimore, Steve Dean, James Wappell....insert name of painter whose work you admire. I have tried to learn new stuff from these guys, and have tried those things out with varying levels of "success". This sort of stuff has helped to morph my painting from where it was in the 70's when Military Modelling Magazine was my only source of inspiration, to where it is now as a codger in his late 40's.

I find that it's not only looking at the wonderful work of others on the internet, magazines & books which helps stoke the creative fires, but also the materials. I do get excited by materials, I have to curb my paint purchasing habit- I really like paint, all those little bottles and pots lined up in their colours groupings or perhaps triads.....Brushes are something that I like to have a lot of too, in a variety of shapes sizes & materials. I recently purchased a few filbert brushes after listening to & watching videos of James Wappell in action with them- a very handy tool to have in the arsenal.
The point is, that these new materials have made me want to try out new things, or re-visit old things that I may have bungled previously.

A Snapshot of my painting area

More Paint! These are my Reaper cases.

Brushes and stuff...

I find that inspiration for painting miniatures doesn't just have to come from Wargames Illustrated, WSS, or MW- I get it from all sorts of places. It pays to cast your net a bit wider than the usual historical miniature wargames forums & media. I've found lots of inspiration from the studio painters who paint insanely beautiful display pieces like seen in this type of magazine:
The scale modelling community, the model railway community, fine art - all have given me ideas.
Friends also have given me nudges in certain directions- an old wargaming mate of mine, James, many years ago introduced me to the ideas behind glazing as used by the old masters in 2D art.
Having a little bit of fine art training in my background has also helped me to realise that I don't need to buy all my materials from The Army Painter etc., there's actually a lot of really cool & useful stuff at the art & craft shop.

I think that I have a lot more to say about this subject- and as my friends can attest, I can drift into lengthy monologues if I don't check myself :-)
So what do you folk think, has "failure been your friend" in this hobby? Where do you get your inspiration for painting & creating stuff? Does seeing the amazing work of others sometimes paralyse you like a rabbit caught in the headlights?
It would be great to hear what you have to say.

All the very best,


  1. Wise words...

    I find that when something doesn't pan out as I expected it to is a great show stopper. I just put the figure (or vehicle) away mid-project even and paint something else. It might take years before I go back and do something else with that figure.

    1. Very true. I have figures that I've tried something different on and then put it back in the drawer for another day. Some recent experiments with Blue Back wash over light grey primer didn't work out to be the time saver I thought they would either :-)

  2. It seems there are two aspects to painting figures, one being developing the skill set to turn out figures you are happy with and second to find a way to keep you coming back to the paint desk and working on your collection. For me I really enjoy reading and seeing how other people get the results they do and then working on those techniques to master them and add them to the repertoire. The other aspect of working on the lead mountain is all about getting control of the mind with planning and developing habits.

    My skill set has and continues to develop and I don't paint figures in the same style that I did ten years ago. At the moment I am deep into painting Napoleonic French infantry and on the last unit I was trying out a new technique to handle the straps, lapels and waistcoats to get a good look but with reduced work as I am working on twenty four battalions. I was not prepared to compromise on the quality and was really pleased with the end result. A new skill added helps to keep the focus on the project.

    I the end we all come at the same issues with a personal approach. The knack is to find out what works for you and then really work at getting better at it.
    Keep painting

    1. Excellent points. Like you, I'm on the lookout for ways to complete projects by saving time on techniques, without sacrificing the end appearance.
      I really admire your disciplined and systematic approach to things, both in your painting but also your research. I think your blog is providing a great resource to Napoleonic wargamers.

  3. I absolutely agree with you, John.

    For me figure painting is kind of many-faceted. I always tend to ask myself: For which purpose do you need those figures? Depending on the answer on this question I chose my material, tools or techniques. Most of all I enjoy to plunge into single figures or small groups of two or three figures. Then I can focus all my attention on these very few models and tease out the very best out of my skills.

    And as for the material:
    I'm always trying to get the best products for my techniques from whichever company. Thus I use mostly Vallejo Model Colors but some Washes by Armypainter, brushes by DaVinci and Games Workshop as well as varnish from our local creative store. Earlier I sticked to material from single companies but sometime I realised the synergies of variety.


    1. Great to hear that you have branched out into using a variety of materials Stefan - there's so much cool stuff out there. I'm really enjoying the DaVinci brushes that I bought, I found them to be better than Raphael - have you tried any brushes from Rosemary &Co?

      At the moment I don't get to do much painting for myself, and am often painting large groups of figures for other people. I find this has it's own rewards and is still fun - plus I don't have to keep them, store them & find some use for them. I do paint a few figures for myself however, and like you mention, they need to have a purpose in my collection - at the moment I'm painting some 28mm Anglo-Saxons for myself which I hope to show soon.

  4. Nice one John. Rambling successful!


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