Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Art Competition – National Capital Model Soldier Society (NCMSS)

Hot on the heels of the NOVA Open is the annual NCMSS show, local here in Northern Virginia.  NCMSS marks the end of my competition season for the year (the beginning of the season being the Crystal Brush in March/April timeframe).  After NCMSS, I need to scramble to produce brand new work, in time for next year’s Crystal Brush!

As an associate judge for the NCMSS show, I learned last year that the day goes by very quickly.  I have to plan my time carefully so that I have enough time to set up & tear down my own entries; view the other entries; shop in the vendor hall; do my portion of judging; and fit in a run back home at lunchtime to walk the dogs.  Last year, I only viewed those models that I was judging!  On top of that, I made it into the vendor hall just as they were closing, and I barely had time to snatch up some new plinths, just as they were packing them away.

This year, I managed to fit in everything, along with a decent amount of socializing and even a chance to rummage through the one-only stash of old-skool Warhammer blisters in the vendor hall.  More orcs to add to my 3-year-WIP orc army!

The vendor hall.
The NCMSS Show uses “open-format”, where entries are judged to a standard – as opposed to competing for only 3 top slots per category, i.e. podium-format, which is what Capital Palette and Golden Demon use).  Open-format allows every participant to earn a certificate, Bronze, Silver, or Gold award, depending on the standard of quality present at the show. 

Some of the fine NCMSS members/volunteers who make this event happen, year after year.


Open format is a nice way for every person to be recognized for their hard work, no matter what their skill level is or how they rank against other people.  The format tends to be more relaxed and community-oriented.  Artists view one another more as associates, rather than competitors.  Folks are more inclined to share techniques and ideas with one another, creating a learning environment and a more social event.

You can probably tell that I prefer the open format.  So why do I maintain the Capital Palette as a podium format?  One reason is so that Capital Palette offers something different than the other art shows in the region, those other shows being NCMSS and MFCA.  Another reason is that Capital Palette fills the void left by the departure of the Golden Demon, a podium-format competition which used to be at the Games Day in Baltimore.  

I should mention the Jumpmaster competition, another fine, podium-format competition, held at Dropzone Games in Glen Burnie.  Like Capital Palette, Jumpmaster is a Crystal Brush qualifier.  Since I can’t compete in Capital Palette, it’s nice to have Jumpmaster, so that I can compete for a free ticket to Adepticon!

My entries.  Too bad it's the worst photo of the bunch!

Speaking of Jumpmaster, my Sapo bust, which earned Best of Show for Fantasy at Jumpmaster (but not Best of Show overall – that went to the well-deserving Mr. Marc Raley), also had a good showing at NCMSS.  I’m very pleased to say that Sapo earned Best of Show for Fantasy/Sci-Fi at NCMSS!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Series update #1 - NOVA Open & The Capital Palette

It’s been a busy month in the hobby!  I helped staff the NOVA Open over Labor Day Weekend, and two weeks after that, I participated in the annual NCMSS show.  In mid-October, the local Monday Night Malifaux crew will be representin’ at the Battle for Salvation convention up near New York City.

In the midst of all of that, my gaming docket continues to be redirected on a weekly basis, and, with it, my painting queue, which keeps getting jerked around.  Good problems to have!

Given all this activity, I have a backlog of updates to make to the blog.  I was going to post all of these topics, and then I realized that would be really picture-heavy, so I'll pace out these updates over several days.
First up......

NOVA Open and the Capital Palette

I wrote an article for Figure Painter Magazine which reviews the Capital Palette art competition.  I wanted to wait for the article to come out before I posted to my blog. 
I felt like the Capital Palette showed great improvement over last year, with better cabinets, better lighting, and better processing.  The only downside with the facility is that it requires a lot of work, time, and heavy-lifting to set up and tear down.  But I take consolation in that NOVA Open can now boast one of the best miniature-figure display facilities in the hobby!

The newly expanded cabinets
With regard to quantity and quality of entries this year, I think we held steady compared to last year.  Some of our heavy-hitter artists from last year were absent this year, due to moving out of the area, schedule conflicts, or depleted inventory!  But we saw a lot of new faces, too, and the strength of talent was more evenly distributed, which kept the average bar about the same.

One of the highlights this year for me was hosting a display for studio Infinity miniatures, painted by Ángel Giráldez and hand-carried from Spain by Infinity creator, Gutier Lusquiños Rodríguez.  Whenever I see Infinity models announced on Tabletop Gaming News or Beasts of War, I marvel over them.  So it was a real treat to see these figures in person and to be able to study Ángel’s technique.

Between the Infinity studio models and Martin Jones’ models below, I am inspired to paint one or two of my own Infinity miniatures!

by Martin Jones
Of course, there’s a lot more to the NOVA Open than the Capital Palette.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have a lot of spare time to take photos of armies, skirmish squads, and terrain.  I was glad to at least have the chance to see a lot of the armies in my capacity as an Army Appearance Judge, but that opportunity is still not ideal, since judging armies is always under a lot of time pressure, logistical pressure, and participant pressure!
Capital Palette judges and staff:  (l. to r.)  Justin McCoy, Dave Taylor, Caleb Wissenback, Bob Likins, and Mike Schaefer

by Frank Behrens

by Steve Carey

Next:  The National Capital Model Soldier Society (NCMSS) Annual Show

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

WIP - Major Valerie Duval

I'm painting this mini for my friend, Mark, who wants to use it and several other minis in the old-skool RPG, Metamorphosis Alpha.  This mini is a Prince August model, made for Warzone.  The character is Major Valerie Duval of the Bauhaus faction.  The sculpt presents a face with rather masculine features.  The initial wash had her looking like Dee Snider of Twisted Sister.  I tried to soften her up with some painting trickery, i.e. emphasize higher, rounder cheekbones.  But she's still a pretty gruff-lookin' woman.  I also want to attempt some freehand and add some simple insignia to her shoulder pad.