Monday, 13 February 2012

Most Miniature Painting Is Cartoony, Generic and Boring

Dominant cultural trends are everywhere. No one, for example, seems to be able to sing on a TV talent show unless they're emulating highly-Americanised vocal warbling. Sometimes these people have obvious ability - talent, even - but they leave me unmoved. The same goes for much miniature painting. There's a dominant and rather narrow trend for producing what I often refer to as 'cartoony' and 'shiny' models that influences everyone. Even people who treat painting as a necessary chore in order to get an army to the tabletop are affected.

A very silly example from Wyrd to help push my point
Looking back over the past 25 years or so, it seems to have been over the last decade that the cartoony/shiny approach has gained an almost total dominance. Soft gradual blending, stark highlights, strong palettes, anime influences... all these (and more) now seem to be indicative of the only generally accepted way to go about painting miniatures.

I can't offer a detailed history or in-depth analysis here - this is only really a personal reflection. But it seems to me that a few painters with high exposure have influenced the field to such a great extent that most of the expression that's put into miniatures (and the technical innovations) seems to flow down a narrow channel. I think this is a shame. I think people are missing an opportunity by not looking further afield for inspiration.

For that reason, I'm going to spend this week exploring my own artistic influences, before showing how these influences are shaping my own approach to miniature work.  


  1. Fascinating question that many people seem to be asking these days -- what is that little bit of 'extra', that 'spirit', that differentiates technical excellence and what you might consider art? Eagerly awaiting the posts.

    1. Well I do hope your eagerness will not prove to be misplaced! ;-)

      I wouldn't dare offer a definition of art... very tricky territory. I'm just trying to find a way of doing things that appeals to my creative sensibilities. Really I think all well painted miniatures are artistic, although your point about 'spirit' certainly carries some weight.


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