Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Forgotten Piece of the Puzzle

Now that I've finished reading and digesting IA9, I can finally get around to a painting theory article - one of the things I'm actually good at.  To be honest, I haven't sat down and mapped this one out (I'm experimenting), so it'll be probably be a nice mix of light gonzo journalism, running discussion, swearing and rambling logic.  It might not make a lot of sense. Oh, and I won't be crowding the narrative with RPG content.  Its not good for either subject.

Sit tight, coz this is gonna be a long one.

Lets get started, shall we?

Or rather, lets get prepared to get started.  I have to admit:  I've had a lot of trouble getting this one of the ground.  Lots of false starts, unnecessary detailing of my lunch foods and even a near miss with e-drama.

But a trip to the grocery store put things right. Which is where we actually start...

It was midnight and I was entering the grocery store smack dab in the middle of the third shift's restocking routine.  Having worked in a grocery store that was open 24 hours, I know what this is like.  The store is basically open as an afterthought - no extra staff around to smile at you and tell you where the olives or even register your presence.  Sometimes they don't even bother with wet floor signs.  But that's another story about bruised egos and the hidden dangers of flip-flops.

I was in a reflective and, frankly, odd mood since the creative process had been stymied all day.  Quiet Riot to the rescue.  Before I even had a chance to forget the verbal grocery list I came in with, the dulcet tones of "Cum On Feel the Noize" came in over the store's muzak channel (now tuned to the classic rock station).  By the time the first chorus came up, I was in the soda aisle passing a black helium balloon with skull on it clipped to the shelves. The experience was more than a little metal.  It was effing metal.  But not full on fucking metal.  It was only Quiet Riot. And it was only a Stop and Shop.

I remain pretty convinced that this song is on everyone's guilty pleasure list somewhere in between "seeing people fall down" and "dead baby jokes".  There's just something endearing about it.  Its awesomely bad in the same way that "We Built This City" is.  There's just something about these songs that makes the caveman part of your brain itch.  In any case, I was rocking out to this song in my head as I'm sure all the somber and bored looking stockers were as well.  Or at least the cool ones were.  But no one was actually rocking out. What happened to the exuberance?  What happened to just rocking out, embarrassment be damned?  When did people start listening to Quiet Riot as passively as they would NPR?

Which brings me slowly, and a little more shakily than I'd like, to painting my little space mans. 

Self reflection is a bitch.  It's also part of any successful approach to improving a skill.  I tend to do a fair bit of it when it comes to painting since its one of my favorite things.  And I've come to the conclusion that while I've been working very hard to improve my technique/general ability in the last 5 years - and making a ton of progress in that endeavor -  I may have lost something along the way.  In a similar way to the uncelebrated passing of "Cum On Feel the Noize" up there, I've stopped rocking out with my painting.

Truth be told, this has begun to gnaw at me a bit.

While my models have gotten prettier, fancier and 'tighter' overall, they have gotten less interesting in a way as well.  I think this comes down to the fact that I've been chasing the wrong thing.  So have a lot of people it seems.  Though I fully admit that I may be constructing a reality in my own head that doesn't reflect what's actually going on - though I will continue in an inclusive manner.

In the pursuit of all this technical excellence and Golden Daemon level of quality, a lot of us have forgotten all about pursuing the ever elusive je ne sais quoi. 

In a way, this whole train of thought started off as a result of some of the weirdness that Brent tends to attract.  Brent had been receiving what I thought to be undue criticism at the time over a series of his latest painting projects.  I thought the models were great and that the critic were missing the point.  It was cheesing me off.  I'll go ahead and tell you now that I was wrong.  About the critic - not the models.  Those are fucking great.

I would like to point out that these dudes ARE fucking metal.
Luckily, I learned a long time ago not go all all "errant white knight" on people's asses and stayed the hell out of another non-fight.  Getting involved in other people's drama - especially of your own creation -  is rarely appreciated and it almost never has anything to do with what's actually going on. It's not just tilting at windmills, it's tilting at nothing at all.  Though. I still went ahead and did the legwork I might need.  Old habits die hard, I guess.  

So checking out the potential target's own work, I found that he was a talented painter.  Between this fact and talking to Brent about the situation I came to the firm conclusion that the Master Manipulator was not being a lobster at all.  Important internet life lesson: Do your homework.  Rather, he was genuinely giving criticism in the hopes that he would be able to push Brent to a higher skill level.

Mulling over the situation after the fact, I can tell you now exactly what was sticking in my craw - and making me a bit of a hypocrite: I was reacting to the technical nature of the advice.  It was all about realism, color choice and technique.  It seemed like it was ignoring the unique color choices and visual elements that gave the models in question that special something.  And consarn it, painting's about so much more than brush control and highlighting techniques!

Then I looked at my own advice and my own models from the last few years.  Oops. 

I think that's it for chapter one - in the spirit of what I'm on about with this whole thing, the style of this post is a bit experimental so please bear with the wall-o-text, general rambling and potential double ending.  There will be a lot more on this later so please keep reading and please comment.  - Lauby


  1. Lauby, for what its worth, the article works and gets your point across.

    My painting skills are that of a 3 yr old on Meth, so I generally stay out of the painting arguments :)

  2. I agree. I got it, and don't disagree. I am not a great painter, but man I enjoy it and I know the Mexi-Marines or anything else I do are greater for it.

  3. That was a good read dude.

    I'm a horrible painter, so I can't comment much on the actual meat of it :P

    FWIW, I get the same with armies. I could play a heavy mech army, but I just prefer my Elite superhero armies like Loganwing and Bloodwing. I get more invested in it, play better, and have more fun. Do what you like, not what somebody tells you is best.

  4. Hey Lauby I took no offense to anything you said and I doubt anything you could have said would have bothered me. So no sweat here. Not meaning to sound sarcastic or demeaning in any way but everyone is entitled to their opinion. I will tell you that I appreciate you taking the time to actually find out about who made the comments before anything else was said. Not many people would have done so.

    I am actually very hard on Brent when he posts stuff. He has sought out my opinion and encourages me to let him know what I think. So when I see something I don't hold back. He gets both barrel unless he tells me otherwise. Problem is he does a lot of "table top" quality work and I know he is capable of better. I have seen it.

    As for the kill zone models. Well I too learned a valuable lesson from some of that. Brent does a lot of table top quality painting and I tend to criticize that as I would all his work. Even though the models he has done are good, personally I am not that impressed with them. I am not basing this off anyone else's work just compared to Brent's stuff. It could be a color aspect, it could be technical, not sure. They just don't strike me. They definitely are not his best, and to that effect not even his best table top quality. To each his own.

  5. Some of the stuff coming for the next installment will actually address a lot of the comments. Think of this as an intro to a much wider dialog. One that will probably fluctuate quite a bit in a number of ways as this is very much a running thought experiment more than a concrete thesis.

    @MM: thanks for taking the time to stop by! Its greatly appreciated. I'd also like to entice you to stick around for this one since I have a feeling that we have as much in common as we have differences. Could be fun to see what happens when ideas bounce of you.

  6. I enjoyed that! The life lesson's good; the tip about painting tips is better. All the striving for technical excellence in the world won't help you if what you're producing is technically excellent but staid and uninspired.

  7. Ok I am sticking around but nothing new yet. Guess I can go back to playing Fallout:New Vegas while I wait.