Thursday 22 August 2013

I seem to be mad.

I don't subscribe to (or even purchase) the various magazines devoted to wargaming. I don't wargame.  I paint miniatures.... other people play with the miniatures I paint for them. Rick Priestly seems to have manufactured a "crisis" in his latest piece to be found in the recent issue of "Wargames: Soldiers and Strategy". Keith's Wargaming Blog takes up this theme and provides a link to Rick's article. In the comments to Keith's piece on the subject, a number of people express their opinions. One such is Steve the Wargamer, who comments on an article I recently had published in "Miniature Wargames". He decribes me as a "loonatic" (sic) because I used three tones of paint on a Wolseley helmet (well actually it is four if you include the ink wash I applied before the two lighter tones) and I paint in the pupils on eyes. Forgive me, gentle readers (both of you) if I use my blog pages to respond.

Am I mad? Most probably, but Steve the Wargamer, I don't game! I only paint. Every now and again some nice people ask me to paint their miniatures for them so that they can play with them. These chaps pay me to do this and because sordid coin is involved I take a bit of time over them.... just as I did on the miniatures that were the subject of the article. Those Copplestone Tommies now reside with the bloke who asked me to paint them. I have the time to give the painting process because I have the luxury of that time. Others don't. I do not divide my time between painting AND gaming as many do. I fully appreciate that those that split their time between these two processes may not want to spend as much time painting up their miniature armies that can, so I understand, number in the hundreds of figures. It is horses for courses. I agree with you, Steve the Wargamer, given this much lead or plastic and a desire to get these figures on the gaming table as soon as possible painting four tones of paint on a Wolseley helmet is "loonatic". I wouldn't do it either if speed was my motivation. I'd be reaching for the "dip" in a flash.

To conclude, to Steve the Wargamer I send this message. Thank you for your input but I'll do with my (or someone else's) miniatures what I want to do. You do with yours what you want to do. It is a hobby. There are people starving in the world and places where people are killing each other. What we each do with toy soldiers really doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. Each to his own. I am happy in my madness. Steve the Wargamer, I wish you joy in yours.

Mind you..... Henry Hyde has yet to pay me for that article.


Phyllion said...

A fair response: I find it quite amazing that a complete stranger should feel it appropriate to comment on how someone chooses to indulge in their own hobby (in jest or no!).

My British Sudan helmets have at least three highlights, so you are not alone. I choose to apply myself to painting to the best of my ability. I am a better painter than many, but not as good as equally as many. But I am satisfied with my work and take pride in it. But I would not cast aspertions on those with less ability, just allow them the space to enjoy their hobby however the would like and offer kind words and encouragement, much as I would for the finest painters whose blogs I follow.

Michael Awdry said...

Well you better make room in the asylum for one more! I wholeheartedly share Phyllion's comments and like you I enjoy the painting as the primary aspect to the hobby. Again, I don't pretend to be the best painter, but I take a great deal of pleasure from the work I produce. Painting miniatures is what I chose to embrace as a diversion to a demanding day job, that has now developed into a fully fledged addiction to lead soldiers and whilst I may harbour desires to one day command great armies on the table, again like you, I'm not worried about the constraints of time.

For what its worth I find your work truly inspirational, in fact it was your work on the Empress Miniatures website that set the standard for me to inspire to. Carry on my good man, carry on!

James Brewerton said...

I think the hobby is different things to us all I do game a little but paint a lot more. I would love to paint to the level you can but I am still years off that skill level (but getting there) and it is following blogs like your that push me to improve.
As for the ongoing discussion I love gaming with nice painted minis this does not mean I would not game with block painted minis its just when they are my figures (Or a commission) I will always paint to my max potential.
Keep up you great work because you are inspiring many of us
Peace James

JP said...

If its any consolation, I am both a middling painter and poor tabletop general. Plus 'loonatic'.
To each their own and hats off to those, like yourself, who paint so well.

Christopher(aka Axebreaker) said...

I wonder what I would be classed as? Schizophrenic would probably be it as I paint some figures to a very high standard and have the temerity to actually wargame with them while some others I block paint in and apply some AP and maybe a highlight or two then slap them on the rump and send them on to the field of battle.

It's your hobby and as long as your enjoying yourself then that's what really matters.


Terry Silverthorn said...

I totally agree with you. Its your hobby to do with as you will. The fact that others who may not be into painting their miniatures but whom love to play the game can enjoy the fruits of your labour, then all the better.

I find myself a lot like JP. I cannot to this day turn out a regiment of miniatures & am at best a total of 4 figures a week. I paint for playing with the miniatures, but that doesn't stop me from trying my best for each of them. I just know that as they will be used in gaming, they will be varnished & matte sprayed to help protect the work I've done. Carry on!

DaveD said...

One more inmate for the asylum here. I paint and play. I will spend the time I need to get the result I want. It's my hobby time...let me choose how I do it, if you can't say something nice, say nothing

Ubique Matt said...

I sometimes wonder why people criticise the various standards of painted figures and their actual motivation. If they don't want to field painted figures at their best possible standard then stick to chess. The comments always seem to be levelled at top class painting (like yours) and not block painting efforts. Unless asked to, I won't dream of picking faults with another painter's technique and level of finish.

And, more importantly, like you point out you're a painter (and I assume a collector) it's your hobby/your rules. Please keep up the excellent standard and "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!"


Broeders said...

As the Good Book says (not that i'm a Christian but its a good quote) "Judge not, lest ye be judged". I never criticise other people's painting - they've done and tried their very best (regardless of outcome) and you can't have a go at someone for trying their best.

I am jealous of some of the painting I've seen (knowing that I would not have the skill or patience to do the same myself) but also I have been complemented on my own painting. But as you say, the amount of detail and effort you put into your painting is down to you - you know the quality that you're happy to achieve. I suppose the philosophy is the same as for 13th century stonemasons, who put incredible detail into gargoyles and decorative stonework that would then be hauled 300 feet into the air and no-one on the ground could see the detail put into the work. But as they would say..."Both I and God know - and that is enough".

Over Open Sights said...

Thank you, Chums. I nearly pulled this response off the blog this morning, but having seen your responses I think I'll leave it up. I'm currently painting up some British and Italian WW2 HMG and Mortar teams for one M. Perry Esq. and last night painted the ammo carrier for the British Vickers team from start to finish in a session that lasted about four hours (the miniature was already prepped and undercoated. It was not a difficult job. The figures are a pleasure to paint and would annnoy Keith's Wargaming Blog and Rick Priestly because ultimately they are destined for the Perry's Shop Window. As I painted I mulled over the matter. As I applied the last dab of paint (a spot of Foundry Spearpoint to the end of the bayonet frog) I thought that I had been somewhat oversensitive at having allowed a complete stranger to yank my chain. Perhaps I have, but I agree with all of you, its is my hobby and I'll damn well do as I please. Next up... Italian 81mm mortar team for the Western Desert!

Bedford said...

Well said mate.

Although I do enjoy wargaming I see your point completely.

Each to their own... simples....


Matt said...


I thought this was just a hobby. You know, something we did for fun?

You are not mad at all. Just normal.



Stefan (aka. Monty) said...

Well... Maybe it's a bit loony to play with metal soldiers as an adult. But who cares? Which hobby isn't a bit loony?

Anyway I find it fascinating to see which other people share the wargaming and miniature hobby as a whole. Some are willing to spent more time on painting and some on painting. I don't judge any of them since anyone is free to realize their hobby as they want.

I'm always trying to reach my personal very best painting level within the time frame I have available. And when there is enough time I enjoy to paint horses in six or seven shades of grey to reach a grey horse.

Just keep calm and carry on, boys!
"Sticks and stones may break my bones
But names will never hurt me."

Cheers and hobby on!

Dice Plague said...

When I started in the miniature hobby I was mostly a wargamer. I painted my minis with only 2-3 colors (if ever)on them just to send them to be used and abused as fast as possible on the gaming mat. As the years passed and I started to have fewer players friends to wargame with I started to spend more of my hobby time to paint them in a more elaborated fashion. Nowadays I play on very rare occasion an have tons of miniatures that I´ll probably never game with but gave me real pleasure just to paint them with insane number of layers and shades. The miniature hobby have a lot of aspects: gaming, painting, assembling, sculpting, converting and a lot of other cool things to do and have a ball doing it. I really believe that this myriad of aspects is what make the truly enjoyable madness of the miniature world a great passion. If "just" painting them make you happy keep doing it and don´t forget to show us, your fellow hobbyists, what you´re doing so you can inspire us and part some of that joy.

P.S.: Excuse me for my shameful and sorrowful english. I really hate myself for typing this comment... For what its worth I´m starting to take some english lessons :P

Andrew Fielden said...

I am a bit late to this but I would say that in this world there is always someone who will knock what you do. Ignore them, they have the problem, not you.

For myself I MUCH prefer painting to playing which causes significant consternation in my house as my son is addicted to playing and really does not get that I am not at all bothered about playing so I have to live with the "whats the point if you don't play with them" comments.

Besides which I just love looking at beautifully painted minis so keep up the good work

moif said...

I know Steve, from the blogosphere and he's a good chap. I can't imagine he meant to be spiteful.

legatus hedlius said...

Indeed he is a good chap but he does have a thing against people who paint eyes.

I got into a discussion with him about this

I think, partly it is because he is largely a 15mm wargamer where an impressionistic effect is more acceptable.. I only paint 28mm and like you (but not to your superb standard) want my figures to look as good as I can make them.

Over Open Sights said...

Legatus, you are too kind. Under no circunstances would I even attempt to paint eyes on a 15mm figures. Like you I like the life given to miniatures by eyes. I just painted five Perry Dak figures last night and I was pretty pleased with these five faces... a new skin recipe and eyes looking about! I wonder if Steve's dislike of eyes may be something more than taste: "none of those hundreds and hundreds of little eyes following you around the room".