I feel I must apologise for the lack of recent updates and to explain that this is because I've been working on a couple of things that have to remain a secret for the time being, but if you enjoy reading my workbench updates the good news is I've been getting some stuff together which I will be able to use for a few updates in the coming weeks.
For this update I wanted to share with you something I decided to challenge myself with recently for the purpose of continuous personal development. If you've been following my past updates you'll know that I readily acknowledge that I still have a lot to learn about the processes of sculpting and painting miniatures and continually seek ways to improve different aspects of my work, or to find new ways to achieve a similar result more easily. In fact, I'd go as far as saying that I don't believe any artist (or craftsperson, if you perceive miniature sculpting/painting as a craft rather than art) should ever stop learning or seeking new ways to improve their work or the processes they use to create it.
So, to end the suspense, in my spare time away from work projects, I've started a serious experiment in learning to paint with acrylics. For the first attempt I decided to paint a relatively small 1/16 scale bust. To save money I made a makeshift wet palette using the lid of a plastic food container in which I had placed some pieces of blue washing-up cloth which I'd cut to size so it fit just inside the lid. The washing up cloth was then dampened by gently trickling some tap water over it.
Using the lid allows easy hand and brush access when mixing and taking paint from the palette. The container serves as an easy protective lid. This solution probably cost me less than £3 so I can easily afford to have several palettes on the go at once, protecting mixes for further use later as needed. (I've included a picture of my makeshift wet palette below)
I used some acrylic retarder medium to slow the drying time and allow me to blend the paints in a way that feels more akin to working with Humbrols but with a more immediate drying time should I choose, by putting the hairdryer into action. A method I learned from my friend Fernando Ruiz during a visit to Barcelona last year. The retarder medium also seems to halp the palette stay fresh and useable for a good period of time, I found paint still very useable after several days. For this first bust I used some Andrea and Vallejo acrylics which I already possessed.
I was quite pleased with the results, even though I couldn't immediately achieve the same level of finish I've been able to with oils and Humbrols, but then again when I first used those mediums I couldn't achieve the result I wanted the first time out. However, I did like how it felt to paint with acrylics, the way I could do more in one session and already I can see they hold real potential for me to get into a state of 'flow' more often once I've become more fluent with using them.
After this relatively successful initial foray into using acrylics, I've bought a selection of Jo Sonja paints and mediums which I'm really looking foward to experimenting with on a second, larger scale bust. The reason for buying some Jo Sonja is because I've hard many highly respected miniature painters waxing lyrical about their quality. I'll tell you how I get on with them and my feelings about painting with acrylics in general in one of my forthcoming updates.
However, what I'd like to tell you about straight away is the very friendly and helpful response I received from Lynn Courteney when I contacted the Jo Sonja UK shop via their Facebook page for some advice about the paint and mediums and when subsequently placing my order.
If you're curious about the Jo Sonja range of acrylics, which for some time have been used to devastatingly good effect by various miniature painters, check out the the website for their UK shop at: www.josonjas-ukshop.co.uk
So , finally, here are a couple of pics of my first piece painted completely with acrylics, apart from the metal base colour which was printers ink, but metal areas were shaded with acrylics.
(p.s. If the images aren't showing correctly below you should be able to view them by clicking in the image box)
My makeshift wet palette:
The subject for my next practice with acrylics is this wonderful pirate bust sculpted by Romain Van Den Bogaert for Black Crow Miniatures. I'm sorry to say I brutalised the casting a bit, leaving off the arms and cutting the torso down so I could focus on painting just the parts that interested me the most.