The Nova Open is my home convention, it’s about 10 minutes from my house. I’ve gone for the past several years – usually as a Press Ganger helping run the Warmachine & Hordes events for Privateer Press. With the dissolution of the ‘gang this year, I decided to take more time for myself this year, and I took seven (7!) hobby seminars.
The Open has been at the Hyatt Regency in Crystal City for as long as I’ve attended, and it’s become a very familiar setting.
Day 1 – Thursday
After registering and getting my fully-loaded swag bag (reviewed in a later post), I headed down to the Warmachine & Hordes area and visited with friends who had arrived early and were setting up tables. I set up the Iron Arena laptop and got ready to rush off to my first class, Introduction to Display Painting with Roman Lappat.
The Display Painting class was a lecture style class, with a fantastic powerpoint and discussion with Roman about the differences between the philosophies and goals of painting for gaming and painting for display and competition. Since this is a shift I’m focusing on, this was a great way to start off the weekend. It helped get my mind running on the core concepts of artistic painting (as opposed to purely functional painting).
The rest of the day I shopped, hung out with old friends and cheered on my buddies who were playing games in tournaments.
One of the vendors I spent a ton of time at was the Toledo Game Room. Darryl has a ton of tubs of one-off miniatures, bits and used models for great prices. I found ten of the cheap 2-piece Termagaunts for $7, a few Gargoyes for $2 each, some old Lizardmen models for $3-$5 and a few bags of Tau bits for $7 or $8. In addition, all of his NIB Infinity was on sale, so I picked up enough models to solidify the options to play Neoterrans a few choice Morat blisters. I also discussed the opportunity to trade in some old on-sprue GW High Elves for more Infinity. We ended up doing that on Friday, and I made off with two more Morat boxes. While looking around TGR’s stuff, I found an original ForgeWorld Greater Knarloc, and turned Faultie onto it – he traded some Taurox for it later in the weekend.
Honestly, the Toledo Game Room is one of the highlights of the NOVA Open for me. They have such an eclectic collection of stuff, and you never know what treasures you’ll find.
While walking around, I found the charity silent auctions and started a few off. I didn’t end up winning any of the ones I was interested in, since I was in class during the final hours, but it was cool to see what had been donated. Starter boxes for armies, art books, board games, signed art and even painted models. The best aspect of this is that since all of the items are donated, the proceeds go to charity!
Day 2 – Friday
Friday was one of my busiest days at the convention. I had an 8-hour class with Roman, Painting a Bust in Atmosphere followed by something at the complete opposite end of the spectrum, Sketch Style painting for Gaming, with Matt DiPietro, former studio painter for Privateer Press.
The bust class was hugely insightful, and taught me things I plan on applying to my future artistic pieces. The first quarter of the class was lecture, using some classic art pieces and completed busts and dioramas as examples. The biggest take away for me was to really think through the piece before-hand, and plan out the major aspects of what’s going on. Once the plan is in place, the creative juices can really flow because now there’s a narrative going on, and you can play around with that theme or idea in your head as you go and the piece really finds itself.
We were painting this ogre bust that Roman sculpted a while ago when he decided to try his hand at clay. He shared with us some of the challenges he faced and pointed out mistakes on the bust. While humorous, it really helps remind us that even the folks in the upper echelon of the hobby fail sometimes. That didn’t stop us from making fun of him throughout the remainder of class…
One of the first things we had to do was come up with the story for our piece. Pulling from one of my D&D character’s backgrounds, I decided that my ogre was a slave-master / guard in a sandstone quarry, squinting at the workers under the hot noon-day sun. This placed him in a warm, orange setting with a cool blue light from directly above. By the end of class, we’d gotten close to finishing the skin.
I was a little sad that my choice of orange was somewhat lost into the already orange-y skin tones, but I do feel the presence of the cool overhead light. Apparently with a little more work (some steps we couldn’t complete in class), the atmosphere really comes out even stronger. I plan on finishing this guy up at some point, just to see how it all comes out. In the end, though, the concepts that Roman discussed are applicable to any piece, not just busts. My main take-away (besides the painted bust), was to incorporate story into pieces as often as possible, and that planning really helps with motivation and “I don’t know what to paint next” woes.
The next class was Sketch Style painting for Gaming with Matt DiPietro. This was a demo-style class, so while we didn’t paint a model, Matt did. In fact, he went from primer to complete in under 2 hours. His sketch-style leverages zenithal priming and enhanced shadows and highlights to lay out all of the light on a model, independent of color. So, when the sketch is done, you are left with a black-and-white model. Then, color is glazed over the sketch, relying on the contrast provided by the sketch. The end result is a very vibrant model that pops at a distance.
I’m not sure this method is one I;ll use often, but I did pick up some nice tips about how to really push black and white to the extremes. Additionally, Matt blew my mind when he turned a base covered in primer overspray (rough grey-white speckles) into a concrete sidewalk with just some black lines. Check it out, below:
Later on, buddy Chris and I played a 200-point game of Infinity on one of the tournament tables that were set up in the Infinity hall. It was a gorgeous city-street table, complete with billboards, LED lights along the streets and populated with loads of cars and bus stops. It should be no surprise that Chris damn near tabled me, but we had a good time and made lots of pew pew noises, so good times were had.
At the end of Day 2, I was really enjoying the convention and hanging out with friends, but I was also feeling the pressure to get my Capital Palette entry finished and submitted. I worked on it for another hour when I got home, and put on the finishing touches so I could enter it the following morning.
But that’s Day 3, and another post…