Thursday 18 October 2007

Ravage Open Mix

Last weekend was the Ravage Open Mix painting competition at Salon du Jeu in Paris - what a fantastic event! Ali and I (and our little son, Cal of course) went over for the weekend and I have to say that we really enjoyed ourselves. The show itself was pretty small, but the painting competition had without doubt the best quality miniatures I have ever seen - really outstanding. I'm not sure how many people entered, but the cabinets were just packed with beautifully painted miniatures - I just didn't know where to look, one fantastically painted miniature after another...

Ali and I painted some miniatures specifically for the event - not really with any thought to winning, but more to show our support than anything else. It's just great to have a competition of this caliber that isn't affiliated with a specific company - that has to be good for the hobby and we both wanted to participate on those grounds alone. We have updated the main site with pictures of the miniatures we took along - just check our galleries to see the photos. Ravage Open Mix is an open format competition, where each miniature is judged on it's own merits, rather than against the other pieces. So if the judges think it's worth a gold (or silver, or bronze), it's awarded one no matter how many others are painted to the same standard. This creates a friendly event where the emphasis seems to be on sharing and encouragement rather than out and out competition. This is the way that practically all Military modelling events are run, and in fact there were quite a few historical pieces there in amongst the fantasy and sci-fi.

The competition was great, but the best thing was getting to meet and talk to all the other painters - and I just wish we had more time to do that. It was great to meet Jeremie Bonamant and Allan Carrasco, and Ali and I did a painting demo at the Alkemy stand - the miniatures are great and I think the game is going to be a big hit - I believe it's going to be in the stores in January, but check the website for details.

I also got to chat quite a bit with Jacques-Alexandre Gillios and Thomas David, who are without doubt two of the best sculptors in the business right now - they are currently working on the Hell Dorado range, which I think it just stunning... In fact there are a few Hell Dorado miniatures on my painting desk waiting patiently for some attention. Both are also amazing painters, in fact Thomas walked away with Best In Show - which after having seen his Autarque Eldar in real life, he absolutely deserved. I can't tell you just how much better it actually looks than the photographs - it really summarized everything that I love about miniatures. Just stunning. The amazing thing is though - there was plenty of other miniatures there that were really just about as good!

We also got to meet Cyril Abati, Julian Casses and Mathieu Lalain (amongst many others!) - and seeing their work was a real treat. As is almost always the case with great painters, photography can never do justice to the quality of their work - it's just amazing in real life.

I took along several of my old GW miniatures from the mid and early nineties - and they got a great reception! Lots of people were showing me old copies of White Dwarf magazine and the painting guide series I wrote from the same period, so it was quite a nostalgic trip in many ways.

We'll definitely be going back again next year - I really think this competition has the potential to take off in a big way. There is talk that some of the Spanish Team are going to be making an appearance next year - so that can only make it better. Ali and I both managed to walk away with Gold awards in the Masters Painting category (which we were very pleased about), so we'll have to make sure we have some exciting things to take along for the next one.

The next painting event that we are definitely planning to go to at the moment is World Expo in Spain next July. I have been invited along to be one of the guest Judges, and we're really looking forward to it. I'll be talking more about that in the next few months - it's shaping up to be a great show.

Talk to you soon


I took quite a few photos, but not very many good ones. You couldn't really get close enough to the cabinets to take photos of the miniatures - there were just too many people crowding round them. I've added a few below, but there are many more over at Jeremie Bonamant's website.

It was hard to get anywhere near the cabinets, there were constantly so many people crowded round trying to get a look at the entries

By the time all the entries were in, there was very little spare shelf space - and the quality was great throughout.

My miniatures in amongst all the others. The strong saturated colours of the older GW minis stood out pretty well!

Allan Carrasco's amazing Daemonette that took the Slayer Sword at this years french Golden Demon. Next to it is another Daemonette sculpt.

David Waeselynck's Duel from this years UK Golden Demon - definitely one of my favourite pieces from the show. The larger scale bust next to it was also his.

There were lots of miniatures there I had never seen before, several of which were busts. I don't know if these are one-off sculpts or I just haven't come across them before - great work though.

The Alkemy stand was one of the busiest for the whole show. They were running demos of the game all weekend and there were regular painting and sculpting demonstrations.

Jacqes-Alexandre Gillios giving a sculpting demo at the Alkemy booth.

Cal found the whole event pretty exciting!

Sunday 7 October 2007

Different Strokes

We had the pleasure of having Sebastian Archer (Automaton on cmon) stay with us last weekend - which gave us the opportunity to see his miniatures collection up close. I have always been an admirer of his work, ever since he appeared on the scene a couple of years ago - and seeing the miniatures in real life just confirmed that. As is often the case with really good miniatures - photography just doesn't capture the painting with any integrity. It's not until you get to hold them in your hand, that you get to see how good the really are. Sebastian's work is a classic example of this - it looks great in photographs, but truly stunning in real life, in fact it's hard to tell you just how good they are. Just wait until you see the work he did for this years GD UK and the Ravage Open Mix...

While he was here I dug out some of my old work from GW to show him - all of it 12 years + old and some done over 15 years ago. When we'd been talking about the work for a couple of hours, I looked down at my desk and all the miniatures were sitting there next to each other - his work right next to my work. The difference in styles was just astounding - I really wish I'd taken a picture of it... Granted, most of the work I had there was from a different era in miniatures - but even so, it really made me think about different styles of painting. When I came back to miniature painting a few years ago (and by that I mean when I actually started to paint again after an 8+ year hiatus), the hobby had progressed enormously, and painting was going in a totally different direction from when I left it. At first I thought - "I've got to learn to paint like these guys!", but more recently I have realised that would be a mistake. The more I think about it, the more I realise that style is just not me - so why try and force it? One of the things I enjoy the most about this hobby, is that many different ways of painting can co-exist along side each other - no one more valid than another. My approach, and reason for painting, differs fundamentally from some of the new painters. I have always striven to produce precious objects - gem like miniatures that had vibrant deep colours that owed more in foundation to to works of John Blanche, than the gritty realistic subjects many modern miniature painters take their cues from. I still feel the same way now - these are fantasy miniatures and I like to treat them as such - 'realism' has never been high on my agenda. That is in no way meant to denigrate the work of people like Sebastian, and I am constantly in awe of what they produce - I just think it's great there is that variety, and divergence of approach in the same field.

This weekend is the Ravage Open Mix in Paris, and I am really looking forward to seeing some of the work that will be there. Sebastian will be there, as will many of the great French painters - I believe Jeremie Bonamant, Allan C, Jacques-Alexandre Gillios, Julian Casses, Mathieu L, Cyril Abati and David Waeselynck are all going to be there. I just can't wait to be able to see their work close up. Ali and I both have new pieces to take along, and I think I am going to take some older stuff also - they been away in a case for a while, so it's about time they had an airing.

We plan on taking lots of pictures and adding a full report here when we get back - it promises to be a great weekend!


Here is a little comparison between Sebastian's and my work (both of mine are over 12 years old I hasten to add!). Apologies to Sebastian for stealing the images off his website - but like I said, I forgot to take a comparison picture while he was here.