My Patreon Community and Blog Plans

I have started a Patreon! I wanted to write a post explaining why I chose to do that, and talk a bit about where the blog and Patreon could go from here. I’m going to throw in some pictures of past work I’ve done to break up the wall of text a little. ;-> (If you’re newer to this blog, check the home page for a ‘table of contents’ to previous posts you might find useful.)

Fg front cu fullFrost Giant Queen available in Bones plastic. (This was a resin master.) Pushing myself to practice freehand and textures.

When I first started thinking about doing a Patreon years ago, I thought of it as a method to make available video versions of the classes I teach at conventions. I didn’t have the equipment required to make that feasible, so instead I started this blog. And that turned out to be pretty great because it got me thinking of the challenges of miniature painting and how to talk about those, and opened up a world of teaching opportunities that don’t fit into the convention class structure.

The time limit of in person classes, or even weekend workshops, is a significant constraint on the possibilities for teaching. What attracts people to those events is partly the opportunity to study how an expert at their craft handles their tools and techniques, and partly the chance to get feedback on their own use of tools and techniques. There is a very heavy focus on the craft/technique side of things. People want to get painting, not listen to a lot of theory!

Cersei front fullCersei Lannister is available from Dark Sword Miniatures. She is a great figure for studying transparent cloth.

The more I work on improving my own painting, however, the more I realize that technique is just piece of the puzzle. There are concepts of how to present visual information that I didn’t know or didn’t fully understand that are just as important to creating a successful piece as how you put on the paint. Perhaps more so, since they apply regardless of which techniques you use, and they apply whether you’re painting a quick game figure or an elaborate display piece.

This blog has allowed me to explore and share some of those ideas in a more hospitable environment than convention classes. I can take the time to break down and explain a concept. I can easily cross-reference other material, both previous articles of my own, and material from great artists and teachers all over the web in all kinds of visual art disciplines. Readers have the luxury to read and re-read on their own schedule, and can exchange ideas with me and with each other through the comments.

Rando face full cuRandom Encounter bust, available from FeR Miniatures. Busts and larger scale figures offer different possibilities, but make different demands of the painter.

So I definitely want to go on writing this blog. It’s been over two years, and I’ve barely scratched the surface of things I’d like to talk about. And I am learning more myself all the time that adds to the potential topics list. I’d also like to continue making information freely available. I like contributing to the community. I like sharing knowledge!

However, I also like paying my bills. ;-> Currently just running the blog costs me a bit of money due to site and storage fees. A much more significant issue is that working on in-depth content like the contrast articles takes a lot of time, and there are limits to the amount of time I can afford to divert away from commission painting.

So I circled back around to the idea of a starting a Patreon. Patreon kind of seems like Kickstarter for teachers and creatives. And like Kickstarter, it gives creators a way to ask a community what they think of something. Do people like the idea of what I’m doing enough with the blog to help support it? My first two tier levels are my way of asking you that question. So far the answer seems to be yes, and I’m so gratified and excited to see it!

Arfin face fullAr-Fienel from Studio McVey was a limited edition resin piece. Noble Knight occasionally has one for sale. I used a limited colour scheme.

When I started thinking about doing a Patreon to support the blog, it also got me thinking again about the possibilities offered by video. There are definitely things that are difficult or impossible to convey using text and photos alone. I do still want to make videos to share the information I teach in convention classes. But just like the blog has, I think that Patreon video classes could expand the possibilities of information I can share beyond what I can teach in a stand-alone convention class. I’ve already got ideas for some great video topics along those lines. I’ve also got ideas for exercises to suggest to you to help you practice and improve your craft.

Another advantage of Patreon is that unlike a convention class environment, it offers ways to stay in communication so that patrons and I can ask questions and share ideas and clarifications with one another. (I’m also thinking about whether a Discord would be a fun addition for our Patreon community. Let me know what you think!)

Bsoph face fullBourbon Street Sophie is available in metal. I’ve studied the source lighting effect intensively. I like this piece, but there are a few things I’d do differently today.

Video creation and community support is much more time intensive than the blog. I need to have some idea of whether people are interested before I can jump into creating video content. Maybe I’ll lurk around Twitch a little while I practice with it. Please let me know if video classes and/or streams are something you’d like to see and would be willing to support! We’ll need to grow the Patreon a little more before I can go too far down that rabbit hole. In the meantime I’m going to continue to study what I need to do on the technical end. Gearing up for ReaperCon got me over the first few hurdles, but I still have plenty to learn.

As for my pie-in-the-sky goal… what I’d really like to do is create a sort of equivalent to a college course for miniature painting. The articles and illustrations of the blog would come together over time into a sort of textbook, paired with Patreon videos to demonstrate techniques and effects. Both would be supplemented by exercises to help improve both understanding of theory and practical technical skill, with occasional critique articles/videos for examples to help improve your artistic eye.

Tara comp frontExercises like this have taught me a lot about miniature painting that I hope to share. This version of Tara was a special edition, but it is coming out as part of Bones 5.

I have no delusions that I’m the best miniature painter in the world. I do think I have some excellent qualifications for teaching miniature painting, however. My university training was in journalism, so I have background in clear writing for both print and broadcast. I’ve been painting miniatures for 17 years, and have studied with dozens of talented people. I’ve been teaching miniature painting for a dozen years, and I have strived to learn how to do that as well as possible, working to understand where people struggle and how better to explain and demonstrate to them. For the past five years, I’ve been studying traditional art. That study has reminded me what it is like to struggle to understand ideas and perform techniques! It also continues to teach me a lot about visual arts that can be applied to miniatures.

So that’s a bit of an overview of why I started the Patreon and what I have planned for it and this blog. I welcome any thoughts or questions you might have!

Rocky group 800Not a standard unit, but I used many of the same principles and techniques to paint them. The Rockies are available on Bones plastic.

In the short term, I’m working on a series of articles about some of those concepts for how we can best present visual information that I mentioned. In essence, the first chapter of what might become the textbook. A textbook is a distant goal that will take some time and effort to get to, but I think what I have in mind will be useful either way. I think there are some critical core concepts that we talk around a lot in the miniature painting community, but that we may not have defined concretely enough to be useful to a majority of people.

That first series of articles about concepts would be followed by a longer series of articles on the elements of miniature art that we have available to put the core concepts into practice in our work.

Week3 front fullI was intimidated to try painting in a more cartoony style, but once I buckled down and tried it, I had a lot of fun! Cthulhu is available in Bones plastic. The others are currently out of production, but several similar style figures are also available.

Thank you so much to everyone who has already signed on to my Patreon: Sheldon, Harvey, David, Frank, David, Ruben, David, Chris, Miniature Monthly, Timothy, Jim, Gregory, Jean, Jonathan, Ben, Brian, Marcia, Jessica, and Tom! I appreciate each of you more than I can express!

And special thanks to Dark Sword Miniatures and Miniature Monthly for helping to spread the word. (And their help and friendship over many years. And generally just being awesome!)