The Pronography of Painting the Perfect Pewter

Here…HERE, Herr Pramas, is the start of what you will be facing (and most likely maulling) in two weeks’ time.

I used to be a good minis painter. But, unlike riding a bike, it does not stay with you if you leave it go for too long.

I used to be a good minis painter. But, unlike riding a bike, it does not stay with you if you leave it go for a too long.

My job has consumed more and more of my time for several years, now. So, mostly, I , simply paint skirmish war bands, if indeed I paint anything. It has been years since I’ve spent enough time to paint an entire large-scale army on my own. Flames of War 8th army force. Cruisers! Bishops! Matildas! Quads! 25-pounders! Grants! HOT-cha! My skillz are rusty, but at least I’m trying. And getting slowly better (again).

I spent a lovely Saturday evening, painting Desert Rats on the dining room table, with Beethoven’s 3rd Piano Concerto (and then his 9th Symphony) playing in the background. Judith sat on the living room couch, reading the latest Haruki Murakami, and we talked and relaxed in a way I haven’t for far too long.

Having the Television Off is a Wonderful Thing. Sometimes I forget this.

The pain I’ve been having has brought a thought to my mind: my life is out of balance. I need to spend more time relaxing. Most of my free time recently has not been relaxing: I will watch bad TV. I will fret about work that needs done. I will let the piles in my office continue to grow.

Enough. Relaxation time must become part of the day. Call it rest and recovery. Call it meditation. As long as it’s not vegging in front of the boob-tube, or wasting time with a thousand meaningless trivialities. Relaxation MUST be the goal.

And painting minis, for me, is relaxing.

Though my skillz are no longer wicked, nor even l33t (I once won prizes for my minis), tackling a full 1,500 point Flames of War army is proving the soothing balm I believe my mind has needed, for those times when it gets too loud in there.

But it also got me thinking about the many armies of unpainted – indeed, sometimes even unprimed – minis I’ve been seeing at cons, for a few years now.

Seeing tournaments at major conventions with unpainted figs just makes me despair for the children. I believe it makes the baby Jesus cry.

Casual gamers, at home, dicing between friends, testing out a system or whatever with unpainted minis = fine. I think everyone agrees on that.

People in tourneys at GenCon or Rock-Con or goodness knows where are prolly not casual gamers new to a system, though.

I would be embarrassed and ashamed to field an unpainted army. Good lord, even a quick primer and drybrush will yield fast, astounding results, and is certainly better than the lousy legions of lazy unpainted pewter I’ve seen.

While I’ve many friends at Games Workshop, in part, I blame unpainted armies on them. Some kids must be TOTALLY intimidated by their ‘Eavy Metal sections in White Dwarf. No WAY could any newbie paint that well. Even veterans have a hard time coming within spitting distance of such astonishing paint jobs.

When I first painted minis, back in what is now known as “the day,” there were no such grand, glorious, Penthouse-quality photos, center-spreads of minis painted to the point of breathtaking wonder. Heck, back THEN, most of the miniature figurines available weren’t even that great. Some, you had a hard time telling a head from a hand! Like must of the rest of my generation, I just did the best I could (while I probably should have been studying “O”-level Physics), even though the results were often abysmal.

I don’t think I ever saw unpainted armies on a gaming table before White Dwarf’s ‘Eavy Metal – Pornography of Pewter Painted to Perfection – became so popular.

My guess (and purely a guess it is) is that some kids, not knowing the joy of learning to paint, not realizing that it takes time and effort to achieve such results, seeing their own first efforts frankly suck next to the brilliance we all wish we could achieve in our minis painting, choose simply to field unpainted armies.

Unfortunately, more and more these days, so do adults. This, to me, smacks as more laziness than anything, but I’m sure there are other explanations. Some may even be valid.

I *will* finish this 1,500 point 8th Army unit by mid-March, or I will field nothing.

But I gotta tell ya…I spent more damn time on the TRUCKS than any tanks, yet.

If I’m going to spend three hours detailing four 15 mm minis, by GAWD, they’d better inflict a ton of damage to the enemy, eventually.

But no, these were bloody three-ton LORRIES.

Some days, there’s just no justice in the world…


(This post, btw, comes with total apology to my GW pals, guys! You know I’m a fanboy! The trend towards fielding unpainted armies appals me, yes. But it’s not anything you INTENDED, of course. There’s really no way you could have foreseen the consequences. But consequences I believe there were. Now, speaking as a GW fanboy – sharing a ciggy with Andy Chambers at Origins a few years ago was a secret highlight of my career…I’m SUCH a goob! – I *will* admit to spending inordinate amounts of time on a single figure for my Dark Elf all-girl Lustria warband. So, yes. Like most campaigners against porn – even minis porn – I have my own secret stash, and it’s called Mordheim…)


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