Just a quick post today. As you may know, I'm a sucker for Games Workshop nostalgia. Oh, I agree that the stuff coming out of Nottingham nowadays is absolutely stunning, and the studio continues to raise the bar year after year (mostly due to increased quality and design put out by their many competitors). However, there was just something special about "The good ol' days". GW just seemed more free spirited back in the '80s, and even a little bit into the '90s. It was a bit more Brit-Punk than now, and the sculpts and concepts and even the paintjobs really reflected that.
For example, check out some of these pics from the days when we waged wars against the ozone layer with copious amounts of environmentally unsafe hair spray:
This was a Jes Goodwin sculpt of a fairly well known piece of John Blanche artwork. Sorry, I don't know who the painter was. Fantastic stuff. This was a one piece sculpt (something that no other sculptor can match Jes Goodwin at), with a plastic shield attached. Back then, the shields came in all sorts of weird shapes, had no detail sculpted on (other than the raised rim and rivets), and had a hole in the centre. Why? Because the models came sculpted with a flattened nub on the wrists... the shields attached to them like they were pegs.
As for the paintjob: great use of complementary colours. Gorgeous freehand work on the shield. Interesting use of turquoise glazed metals on the armour. Nicely subdued blood splatter effect on the axe. A work like this really stands the test of time. Of course, nowadays someone would do this up in hyper-exaggerated NMM, throw it on a detailed base that was taller than the miniature itself, and have translucent blood effects dripping off the axe, but there's something about this style that really appeals to me. It's almost as if I can sense how much fun the painter had with this particular model.
These days, John Blanche is best known for his very evocative and thematic 2D art. It dominates almost every GW publication, and his concept sketches get translated into 3D miniatures just about every other day, it seems. It's gritty, it'd dirty, and it's wonderfully chaotic. That being said, he's starting to attract attention for his 3D miniature painting again due to his semi-regular "Blanchitsu" articles in White Dwarf magazine. I say, "again", because he used to publish "Blanchitsu" articles back in the late '80s too, and WD also featured a number of his painted miniatures back then as well. This is probably one of his greatest works... incredibly inspirational, and it showed just what a deep background in canvas art could do when tranferred to a 32mm scale miniature. After this miniature, many a painter has tried their hand at freehand painting a version of the Mona Lisa on their models. In fact, one of my heroes, a Canadian painter named Mark Dance, did a very similar model for his Slayer Sword winning dioramas back in the early '90s. Fantastic stuff.
For all those readers who are just starting out in miniature painting, and get depressed or discouraged when they compare their paintjobs to what's hot in White Dwarf, the Golden Demons, Crystal Brush, or Coolminiornot, take a look at the above paintjobs, and then take a look at the pics of my early stuff featured in my last blog post. Now consider that those horribly painted skaven, goblins, and undead were painted YEARS after the above two models were featured in WD magazine, perhaps you can get an understanding that what you're feeling is perfectly understandable, and that it will pass. Learn all you can about miniature painting, use the best brushes, practice like crazy (and I mean LOTS), experiment on occasion, and get as much feedback as you can from artists that you respect. It won't be long before your stuff is comparable to any of the models you initially drooled over.
Anyway, if you want to check out more of the above, I would advise that you check out the following two blogs:
Amazing stuff, and very inspired. It also helps that the writing for the two blogs is actually pretty good. Each blogger has a firm grasp of what was going on at the time, and communicates the wondrous enthusiasm (and innocence) of the period. Definately recommended.