Random Thoughts 14 - Adventures at Cancon 2014, and the Meg Maples Painting Workshop

So I'll start by pointing out that this is part of the reason I've been worn out lately. I've been really busy lately, and it's left me rather drained. Blogging has been the last thing in my mind, sadly.
Also, there aren't any images in this post... yet. I'll add them in later, but I seem to have lost most of the images from the last month on my laptop somewhere. Anyway, on with the fun and games!

So, first up was Cancon! This was over the Australia Day long weekend, and was three days of gaming, painting, and general fun with a bunch of similarly minded people. I was playing Malifaux on the first day, and had three intense games against crews led by Ototo, The Dreamer, and Kirai. I haven't played in a tournament in a while, and this one was great. The TO for the event (Paul) was drafted in at the last moment, and he did a real great job running the games on the day. Everyone I spoke to there as well was really friendly and was having a great time. There were a lot of awesomely painted crews there as well.

I ended up losing all of my games, but had a great time in all of them. At the same time, I think that I was doing better each game as well, and it really forced me to look at how I'm playing Pandora in M2E in a different light as well. I've been playing so many similar games and intro games recently, it's hard to shake certain habits, but towards the end of the day I thought I was putting up a good fight in my games, scoring a decent amount of points. Also, I got to face my worst fear: a cornered Pandora! I've told a few people lately that if they can lock Pandora against some terrain so she cannot viably push away, they can stop her movement shenanigans pretty quickly. Well, The Dreamer got his forces to do that in my second game. While she managed to escape, it took a lot of effort for her to get away, and it was pretty dicey.

I also entered the Cancon painting comp for the third year in a row. Previously I had entered things I had lying around, and this year, sadly, I didn't get any projects finished in time (Turns out, I'm not too sure how a calendar works...). I did, however, manage to get second place for my Sonnia demo crew for Malifaux, which I was rather pleased with. This year was a big leap up from previous years, in both quantity and quality of entries, with several OzPainters members bringing some newly finished works along. With so many OzPainters at Cancon, including Meg who was about halfway through her Australia trip at the time, some of us got to catch up the first evening and all go out for dinner. There were a few new faces there, and some others I hadn't caught up with in a while, so it was a great to be able to sit down and just chat and catch up with people.

The next two days I was helping in the Aetherworks booth, but got a chance to go exploring every so often, dropping in on Malifaux games (A few players were around on the third day having match ups after the tournament that they had arranged before hand), and seeing things like the Apocalypse games (with a huuuuge Titan) and the enormous WarmaHordes tournament that was running in the top area of the halls. Over a hundred people were in there playing everything from friendly games to deathly serious matches for rankings, and they all were having a great time. I managed to grab some bargains at the bring and buy as well, which the MOAB team were running for the second year in a row.

I had a few days off after getting back, where I caught up with friends and caught up on some housework, was back for work for two days, and then off to Campbelltown for the Meg Maples workshop at Hall of Heroes. If you haven't heard of Meg's work before, you should go and have a look at her blog, Arcane Paintworks. Meg was working as one of the studio painters previously for Privateer Press, and has since gone freelance. She was travelling around Australia teaching classes, including her appearance at Cancon (As I understand, the classes were a secondary plan, as the initial plan was to come out for the WarmaHordes tournament at Cancon).

About fifteen people had gathered at Hall of Heroes for Meg's workshop when she got to Sydney, ranging from people who had been painting for a long time (It dawned on me when I was there that I have been painting close to twenty years now, which makes me feel old), to people who were there to paint their first mini. We all started painting Zargun the Assassin from Guild of Harmony, and over the next two days Meg took us through the entire process, straight from priming the model, to getting a great model in front of us by the end of the weekend. I was utterly exhausted by the end of it, but I'd happily go through it again to spend time with so many great people and learn so much.

Also, there were chicken schnitzel rolls, and I'm addicted to those things. It was my reward food on both days :)

Meg is a fantastic teacher, and if you ever get a chance to take a class of hers, by all means do. I would happily do the identical class again, just because there is so much information and ideas spinning around, most of the exhaustion that came from the process was because of all the ideas that have been sparked off things people said or things I have seen done on miniatures over those two days. The two big highlights of the workshop were Meg going through two-brush blending and her process for painting eyes. Meg has this really focused and elegant way of painting eyes, including putting colour in the eye and a reflection dot that really bring a model's face to life. I had heard of people doing to before, and it always seemed to be something I would never try, as it sounded like something that needed insane levels of accuracy and brush control. While those won't hurt the process, Meg displayed a few methods that would help get really great looking eyes, and won't drive someone mad in the process.

The two brush blending method was also a really interesting technique to not only see demonstrated, but also practice during the day. I had heard of it before, and even after looking up videos online, had never been able to get my head around it. Seeing Meg do this several times during the weekend really gave me a better perspective on how it is done, and it's certainly another technique to add to the toolbox, as I can definitely see why people who have got the skill well practised use it so much. It's application on so many different things is where I saw the potential for it, as it works on areas with a lot of texture, very little texture, metals, skin, and flowing areas where larger blended areas are called for, such as cloaks. I did realise towards the end that using GW paints was not a great way to do this, as they just aren't designed to be useful in that situation. However, since trying it with P3 paints afterwards, I've been able to get better results. Even using Vallejo towards the end of the weekend allowed me more control which I was happier with. I'm still certainly in the beginners camp for this technique, but I've had fun practising it since then, which is always something that will make me come back to try it more and more.

One thing that stuck out towards the end of the workshop is how good a teacher Meg is in these workshops. I've seen a few demos from great painters, and some of them clearly know what they are doing, and how they are doing it, but find it difficult to explain the reasoning or method. Meg was able to not only show the technique in practise with clear results, but was also very adept at explaining what was being done and why it was being done. Not only that, being able to explain it to different people with different levels of knowledge certainly shows how well she is able to communicate what she is teaching to people. Again, if you ever get a chance to attend one of her classes, do so. You will not regret it.

Another thing that has happened with Meg travelling around for the past few weeks is that the painting community in Australia has really come alive again. Over the last few years, OzPainters has started to die down with not much in the way of painting comps for people to aim for. However at the moment a huge number of people have joined up on the forum and Facebook group, and I can see more things being shared on Facebook groups by familiar names, as well as on places like WargamerAU. It's great to see the positive impact she has had on the community on so many different levels.

A few places mentioned in this post:
Meg's Blog - Arcane Paintworks
The OzPainters Facebook group
The OzPainters forum
Guild of Harmony
The Hall of Heroes
Cancon 2014


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