In my last hobby update, when I mentioned how I’d managed to scrape some time together to do some painting, I originally meant to do more than cover my progress with my Flames of War projects but quickly ran out of space. Today will be a shorter post, I promise: I’ll just be covering a miniature I painted during one of my daughter’s school Professional Development days last fall.
My daughter is eight, and generally only has a cursory interest in miniatures and games—because, really, with my owning Imaginary Wars, she mostly associates miniatures and games with all the boring days I’ve kept her stuck at the store while I was getting other things done. (Although….she is a voracious reader of comic books, so it’s not all a wash). Anyway, imagine my surprise when, after I spent a couple evenings organising my hobby area, she was suddenly interested in painting!
In past painting sessions, it had been difficult finding models from my collection that interest her (no matter how many times I’ve told her that the Empire’s steam tank is cool!), so I asked her this time what she’d like to paint; her reply was “girl ninjas.” I mostly own Eldar, Empire soldiers Flames of War and Lord of the Rings models; so having my collection fill her request felt like a bit of a tall order. Yet amazingly enough, I actually had those: Mirkwood Elf Rangers from The Hobbit range!
We got everything put together and primed well before the school’s PD day, and she was absolutely pumped to paint her elves. She even felt she should remind me several days in a row that we would be painting at the end of the week. And when the PD-Day Friday came, we painted. She concentrated solely on painting for over three hours (a record!), finishing five female elven rangers. And sure, there was a lot of pink being used; but what struck me was how often there was a story behind each colour choice, like how blue meant electricity-imbued items.
It’s hard for me to take a look at her models and see it beyond being a child’s output. But I mean, this is the challenge of all critiques, isn’t it? Back when I was in school, doing the crit sessions in my studio courses, it was heavily frowned upon to say we merely liked or didn’t like someone’s art. We had to dissect that person’s work and be above liking or hating it. I think the idea of reconciling what you’re looking at with it being done in a way you wouldn’t have done it and not focusing on how you would have done it differently or how it doesn’t agree with you is the where the skill of critiquing lies.
I think what I like most about her efforts was how precisely they’re painted; and, being present the entire time she was painting, I was also very aware of just how intentional all her colour and painting choices were. For instance, where I see arm greaves and bare hands, she saw armoured gloves and painted them as such –a totally legitimate decision; yet I never would have made that choice, so set in my own interpretations I am. Anyway, a totally proud geek-dad moment, my daughter and I painting Lord of the Rings models!
As for my solitary Mirkwood Ranger, I decided to go with a simple green palette rather than go through my regular process of first agonising over what colours to use. The use of green and leather makes the paint job feel a touch cliché for me, and though the orange spot colours on the scales in the armour were added to add variation, to me they feel like they only add to the cliché paint job.
In the end, I’m very satisfied (and will be even more so once I do the model’s eyes). The fact that I not only had a relaxing time painting miniatures but also started and finished a model over part of an afternoon and did something fun with my daughter made it all more than worthwhile. What’s more, this model only adds to my pool of painted player-character (and non-player character) models for use in role-playing games; I’ve had my eye on running The One Ring roleplaying game for some time now.
Though it’s been a while since that one painting day, when I asked my daughter how she felt about girl-elf wizards and girl elves riding stags, she was more than a little intrigued; I suspect all I need to do to get to the painting table again is present her with some assembled and primed wood elf models!