Monday, September 19, 2016

Just Paint. AKA: The Mad Rambles Of Jessica Rich

Jessica Rich is someone whom I thoroughly enjoy. Though geographically distant, her love of great contemporary art, her sense of humor,

and the kindness she has shown me whenever our paths have crossed, marks her as a friend.

Her skill with the brush, daring sense of composition and wondrous ability to think outside the box are what make her an inspiration.

Lost In The Warp was always meant to be not only a vehicle for my work but also a space for friends who do not maintain their own sites to share their own thought, ideas and work.
In the past LITW has featured articles by Vince Hudon, Chris Borer, Dragomir Milanovic, and others. We will see more of this in the coming months with incoming articles from the incredible Chris Suhre and more - But lets focus on this one for now ;)

Something very special here today - Jessica Rich - Brushmistress extraordinaire wrote some of her thoughts about painting a while ago and gave me permission to share it on LostInTheWarp.

Jess is currently taking aim at making some major changes and moving further into the fine arts to pursue her passions. To be quite frank, she could use a hand. 
Please consider checking out this link and giving some thought as to whether you can get behind this incredible artist in any way :) 

Just Paint by Jessica Rich


This is about painting. This is about beginning. This is the mad ramble of a painter who lost their marbles many many years ago. If only I could get back to Neverland.

Last month I was part of a google hangout with fellow painters, and the question of "What advice do we have for beginning painters?" came up. I didn't have a lot to say then, as it's a subject that requires more than just a simple line of dialogue. There is no magical answer that will lead you down the path of success, no great secret that award winning artists keep to themselves.

 I've met hundreds of painters, some great, and some truly awful. I know that sounds harsh to say, but an honest critique of someone's work is what I can give you. My word isn't law, and shouldn't be taken as canon, but in my semi-­educated opinion, there are enthusiastic painters out there who want to win awards that don't have a snowball's chance in hell. Competition is a bitch.


Why do you want to win them? Why do I still take pleasure in winning them? From my perspective, I feel a little warm and fuzzy, a momentary blip of "I did something right". But then it's gone. My award goes on the shelf to be seldom looked at, and rarely dusted. They are things I have to posses, like an ugly sweater your grandmother gives you that you're obligated to wear at least once a year. I'm not unappreciative of these awards, but they are not necessary. I know this. You should know it as well. The boost of confidence you receive from public validation of your skill will slip away like a dream upon waking. Don't judge yourself by them, and don't allow them to become all that you, as a painter, are.


The question I'm most often asked (by my admittedly infrequent interviewers) is "How long have you been painting?". An honest answer would be "for as long as I remember", because I count those childhood years, when I was giddy with excitement to paint with tempera on a piece of newspaper rag using only my fingers and imagination. Professionally, I've been painting miniatures for a little over 7 years now. I count "professionally" as hired work from studios or avid collectors. I don't count "I shittily painted this model and sold it on eBay, so I'm a professional". There, said it, ­ that kind of "pro­painter" hubris is laughable. Many top level painters are making fun of you in closed door conversations. Does this viewpoint make me an asshole? It might in your eyes, and I don't care. And here's why...

To be a "great" painter (Great is in dick fingers because I still don't see myself as great)­  you need to put in the hours. I'm not talking about "I spend a couple of hours twice a week working on my minis". I'm saying thousands upon thousands of hours - a rough estimate for me over 75,000 to get me where I am.

That is how dedicated I am to what I'm doing.

That is how dedicated you most likely need to be to land the studio gigs and high end commissions (There are a few painters that I've met over the years that take to painting competition winning minis like a fish to water, but they're exceptionally rare). But I would caution, strongly, against this kind of maniacal drive, unless you're 100% sure it's what you want. Because...
Studio work killed my passion. After endless "Ermagerd I need this NOW!!!" deadlines, picky customers, and countless unpaid hours trying to get things just right because "the client hates it as it is", I started to look at my table in disgust.  It was work. It may wind up being work for you too, and if you're very very lucky, you won't fall out of love with this industry. I'm still painting miniatures, but it's down to 20­-30 hours a week these days, and sometimes it's a Sisyphus level uphill climb even though it's a mini I thought I wanted to paint.


Remember those 75,000 hours of time invested? Over the course of that time, my hands and eyes became trained to do what I wanted them to. I didn’t start out with smooth blends, nor was I a freehand wizard. NMM? Sorcery I couldn’t wrap my brain around. But I kept pushing myself further. You have to attempt something before you can fail at it. And you will. I certainly did, and sometimes still do. But it’s ok that’s why I have acetone.

Upon reflection, I realized that the more time I put in to painting, the need to concentrate on the techniques I was using lessened, and what was required of my body to achieve a desired effect became second nature. I no longer constantly struggled to paint buttons on a coat, or eyes on faces. I didn’t have to think about it, because my hands understood the signals my brain sent out. Muscle memory. You won’t have to focus on what angle you’re holding a brush at, or what overall physical posture best suits a technique, because your brain and body will work in concert with each other.

There are 5 photos below (nope - I erased them somehow by accident - Ill add them back in as soon as I can ~ JC), showing the evolution of my freehand over 14 years, in sequential order. 14 years ago, 8 years ago, 5 years ago, 1 year ago, and and few months ago. To put the pictures in perspective, the city on that skirt is a little over ¼” tall, which could fit inside one of the cogs on the Skaven banner. Via determination and practice, my skills advanced. Yours will too. Persevere, and don’t be afraid. I know it can feel intimidating. So you utterly bomb on a figure. It’s alright. But if you stop there, if you reach a point where you say “meh, that’ll do and I don’t need to try anything else”, you won’t get better.

This is also a use it or lose it venture folks. You can’t go full tilt for years, take a year off, and pick right back up. Most of the fundamentals will be there, but your body will have forgotten the precise control. I used to practice karate there’s no way in hell my body could fluidly perform a kata if I tried today. Because I didn’t keep at it.


Brushes: When I bought my first Windsor Newton Series 7 brush, I thought I had acquired the magic bean that would elevate me to the clouds. But then came DaVinci brushes, Raphael brushes, GW brushes you get the point it's a long list of companies. And some work for some, and others work for others. My preference is Rosemary and Company Series 33, Size 0. But that's because it fits my "style" of painting. I paint many glazed layers to achieve my blends. If you aren't doing that, it won't feel the same to you.

Paints: The same notion that there is no "one size fits all" is true for paint. I prefer Reaper Master Series, and Secret Weapon paints. Again, they fit my style. I'm not a huge airbrush user (because I apparently love doing shit the hard way), so I don't have any need to find the perfect paints to push through one. Both of companies' paints I use are perfectly suitable for airbrushing as long as you dilute them, but I know people that adore Minitaire paints, or Vallejo Air. It works for them. Buy a couple of paints from each of the major companies, and see what consistencies you like using. You'll
probably find that some companies make your favorite reds, and another your favorite blues. There's nothing wrong with that, and it doesn't mean you're doing anything wrong if you're not a brand loyalist. In closing on paints, please, don't fall prey to labels on the bottles. Secret Weapon has a fabulous 6 paint series for rust. I've only used them for rust once.

Palettes: Find what works for you (I really hope you're catching on to the trend here). I see so many eager painters buying the palettes their favorite painter uses, because their favorite painter uses it.That's kind of a no-no. You don't know "how" you paint yet, so don't shoehorn yourself into something you are uncomfortable working with because your idol does. Marike uses a ceramic well palette, I use a wet palette. Neither of us are "right". Give everything a try. Start with a
plastic well palette it's a $1 investment. You might love it. My first Golden Demon awards were won using one of those suckers as my paint holder. My wet palette is a 50 cent plastic trading card box with a soaked paper towel and parchment paper.

*Beats head against wall*. I stay off of forums because of artistic terminology. I could crush skulls over this subject. The two biggest contenders in this arena of stupid arguments are "Glazing" and "Washing".

Glazing: A thin, transparent layer of paint which allows the color beneath it to show through. ANY paint can be a glaze.JUST THIN IT WITH WATER. I don't use mediums other than water because it messes with my consistency. Doesn't mean you can't. As long as it's transparent, it's a glaze. You can make a glaze with ink. You can make a glaze with oil paints and linseed oil (from which the artist term was originally pulled). You can glaze with metallic paint. Again, A GLAZE IS JUST A THIN LAYER OF TRANSPARENT PAINT.

Washing: This term doesn't even belong in miniature painting. We rarely use solvents. But, at it's core, it's the same f'ing thing as glazing. Traditionally, inks are mixed with solvents, then controlled application is used by applying the ink with a loaded (read sopping wet) brush. But because you can wash with acrylics and oils, it's still f'ing glazing.

Loaded Brush: Don't get me started. It's a long story.

Dipping: DON'T DO IT! "But what about Future Wax?" someone is crying. If you're reading this, I'm assuming you're hoping to take away some useful tips from this mad ramble. If someone suggests Future Wax as an additive, run away.

What I'm trying to get across in this segment is that it's all painting in one form or another (except Future Wax). We are artists. Would you like to art as well? You can art if start with a brush, paint, and a model. Try it. Throw the terms out the window, and see what you like to do.


Paint what you like to paint.

If you ask for a critique, be prepared to take what you're told in a positive light (even if it sounds like someone is cutting your soul into tiny bitesized nibblets).

Listen to the people you are asking for advice, but don't change everything you're doing because of said advice.

Incorporate it into your style.

Painting competitions can hurt. Not everyone can win, but it doesn't mean you should stop painting if you didn't take home a thingy, especially if you enjoy painting.

Remember that opinions are like assholes.

The very best advice I can give is to simply "start".

My Best Regards,


Jess is awesome. Please help if you can.

Next week back to the Gobber Tinker!


Zab said...

It was hard to read because her honesty was hilarious and I had tears in my eyes most of the time. I fit in one end of the spectrum or another depending on the project. I am both a commission (mainly charity commissions like the NOFC each year) artist and a slapdash board-game painter when it suits me. She seems like really cool person, though. I need to get out to more shows and meet these people :)

Unknown said...

I appreciate the sentiment here; hard earned and honest. Not every budding painter's ego can handle blunt advice but I find it refreshing in a growing sea of encouraging plots and articles that tend to beat around the elephant sized bush of how much work and open minded discourse is required to 'get that red so red'.

More of this plzkthx!

Unknown said...

I appreciate the sentiment here; hard earned and honest. Not every budding painter's ego can handle blunt advice but I find it refreshing in a growing sea of encouraging plots and articles that tend to beat around the elephant sized bush of how much work and open minded discourse is required to 'get that red so red'.

More of this plzkthx!