I started a great adventure this weekend: I started a personal training routine. I just paid off my car, which means I'll have a bit of extra money every month. My first thought, of course, was "More minis!" but since I've already amassed quite a hoard, I think I'll hold off (at least for now). As it is, I'm slowly painting through my box of Reaper Bones Vampire Package from the Kickstarter while practicing how to "speed paint"-- basically, learning how to paint faster & with more accuracy. Painting miniatures is a sedentary activity and lately, I wouldn't call myself active by any stretch of the imagination. (Though I bet Lindsey Stirling could somehow paint and dance at the same time).
Now, there's no need to worry. This blog is not going to turn into a fitness blog and I won't post about my workouts or upload pictures of food from my nutrition plan. However, something unexpected happened when I sat down at my painting table this weekend after my first training session. I realized I had a dilemma: I couldn't paint. The curls, push ups, planks, rows, dips, and weighted lunges had my arm stabilizer muscles freaking out. I couldn't hold my miniature still, and the tighter I tried to hold it, the more I would shake. So frustrating. I had to give up and as I shuffled around the house in my mopey soreness, the door bell rang. My Amazon shipment had arrived! Perfect timing. I bought a few things on Amazon last week, including some reusable mounting tape for minis (because the 3M foam tape that I use doesn't completely come off) and James Gurney's "Color & Light".
You may have heard of James Gurney-- if not, definitely look him up! He's a prolific artist & creator of Dinotopia, a series of beautifully illustrated books. Check out a few of his Dinotopia images here. The realism he creates in his fantasy realm paintings is truly stunning. "Color and Light" was recommended by one of the digital painters that I follow and I wanted to incorporate some of Gurney's brilliance into the way I approach miniature painting.
So far, I'm really impressed by what I'm learning and I can't wait to try out some of the techniques that will directly apply to miniature painting. However, directly applicable or not, it's all interesting! One section I'm currently reading is the "Color Zones of the Face" where lighter skin tones are broken up into three sections from top to bottom-- light golden, reddish, and blueish/greenish. Complexions subtly shift colors in each zone with the forehead being generally lighter. The ears, nose, and cheeks are in the central zone of the face, and since that area has more blood capillaries closer to the surface of the skin, it has a reddish tinge. Men with five-o'clock shadow will have an especially darker blue/green third which can contrast nicely with a warmer color painted on the lips. Fascinating! It's one thing to paint what you see, it's another thing to know why we're seeing what we're seeing.
While a 3D miniature poses a few different challenges than a 2D painting, I'm learning how to "see" things in a different way. Mostly, I want to be able to easily visualize how light interacts with objects without depending on lamps & photos-- one of my biggest personal struggles. With more research and experimenting, I hope it will come more naturally to me soon! I know real-life examples are still important, and that combined with insight contained in this book will definitely bring me to the next level, both as a painter, and in the way I observe things in everyday life. I may not have been able to paint this weekend, but I still found a way to improve upon myself and learn some new things!