Sunday, March 4, 2018

Tiny Update

In the weeks since my last post back in January, I have been adjusting my schedule at the day job, starting some lifestyle changes, and really taking a good look at priorities and goals for 2018/2019. Today I unearthed my painting table AND remembered how to hold a paintbrush. Knocked out 5 small terrain pieces, just some old Armorcast resin burnt/blasted tree stumps primed black years ago.

Next up: more practice on some Ral Partha skeletons, maybe some zombies, and probably several overdue gifts. The goal is to get back into a painting groove and complete a commissioned group in April.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Keep Moving Forward

The last two months of 2017 are a general blur in the rear view mirror, leaving a year-end summary in spreadsheets to crunch the miniature painting numbers:


More than 450 unpainted minis were sold, turned in to Metal Trade at Reaper Con, or otherwise removed from inventory.  The Mountain was further reduced by painting 18 minis, mostly early last  year.  Most additions came in using Metal Trade credit to shop the Reaper factory, plus filling in some boxed sets for Zombicide: Black Plague.  While it is nice to see the Mountain shrink by 209 minis, continuing that rate means another 11 years (2018 thru 2028, inclusive) to eliminate the Mountain entirely.  That's unacceptable.

Worse, that rate will be a challenge to maintain going forward due to Metal Trade credit remaining with Reaper, plus swag at Reaper Con, plus Zombicide: Green Horde KS fulfillment due this year, plus the Reaper Bones IV KS fulfillment likely due next year, and so on.  I could be looking at adding nearly 500 new minis before the end of 2019.

In other words, I need to seriously ramp up the rate of both sell-off and painting.  But, how?

Well, a one-time reduction comes from corrected accounting.  Previously, the unpainted total included small models that don't typically stand on their own, the small animals, familiars, objective markers and such one might use with a standard mini, vignette, or diorama.  Example: 10 of these vultures are now counted as Bits instead of Unpainted minis.

Making that correction starts 2018 off with a good, albeit rather artificial & singular, reduction of 160.  The new total stands at 1990, oddly matching the year I married my beautiful, loving, understanding, and very hobby-friendly bride.  :-)

Looking ahead at 2018, I've already moved 320 miniatures into the sell-off pool, leaving them unpainted.  If that works out, and I paint just 20 this year, then I'll have a total reduction for 2018 of -500 minis, more than enough to offset the influx of Z:GH and Reaper Con.  On the other hand, that will probably not be enough to maintain or improve the -209 annual rate.  As previously noted, I think I need to be more aggressive with both the sell-off and painting plans, but again, how?  And why?  What are my goals, here?

Well, this is where I stop writing in the blog and go back to over-analyzing priorities & goals for games, contests, and sales.  Hopefully within a day or two, I can post again with some realistic goals & plans that don't conflict too much with each other.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Weeks 15 thru 19 - 6MMRPC

Blurred.  Not just my photos, lately, but my memory.  Another whirlwind of marching band season has come and gone, plus a trip to Reaper Con, and many other changes...

Weeks 15 thru 17 - is that right? Geez, time flies! While Reaper Con and RL kept me away from painting as a method of Mountain reduction, I did manage to complete a 'project'. At Reaper Con Metal Trade, I exchanged 160 older minis for 52 newer ones and some bits, so there's a net change of -108. Take out one more for updating/finishing a contest entry to get to -109. Add back some from swag bags, classes, the auction, and a few vendor purchases for an overall net change of -82. Seems liked pretty good progress for a 4-day event, no?

Week 18 - family medical issues, both major and minor, kept me occupied and too stressed to paint. Bought a board game, expansion, paints and a couple of minis at the FLGS owner's retirement party. Yes, I screwed up my Challenge numbers. "But it was for a good cause!" And retail therapy. :-)
Week 19 - Today, I cleared out most of a mountain of boxes and shipping materials, making room to sort & photograph minis for further sales. Between last night and tonight, I found my workbench and cleaned mold lines, prepped and assembled 8 minis. Only 3 of those are mine, though, the rest I'm...uh...holding for a friend. Yeah, that's it. Holding them for a friend. ;-) Actually, I'm painting them for a client, so they don't help my Challenge numbers.

Thursday, November 16 - this week so far I have prepped 10 commission minis through assembly and gluing to bases.  Tonight was something of an adventure, setting up a Dremel drill press for drilling partial slots into scenic resin bases.  It was a lot of work, but I think it beats clipping off the tab, then drilling and pinning one tiny foot - yeah, there is usually just one in contact with the base. 3 of those have some putty on the bases for better attachment and stability.  With luck, tomorrow evening will see the rest of the putty work done, then priming and painting can start Saturday.

Hopefully there will be more of an update and some photos Saturday!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

6MMRPC Weeks 12 - 14

In terms of reducing my personal Mountain, I have accomplished almost nothing over the past three weeks.  There may have been a single or two sold on eBay, but that's about all.  On the plus side, I have been too busy to buy anything new.  Having passed the halfway point of the Challenge at week 13, a quick count shows a net reduction of 220 since 7/1/2017.  That's 229 sold, trashed, given away and 9 added, which was 5 Kingdom Death for sale/paint & sell, 3 others for sale/paint & sell, and 1 impulse buy.

The count also does not include Reaper's Bones IV Kickstarter.  I have yet to lock in my reward selections, which may not happen until next year, after the current 6MMRPC.  Also, the KS fulfillment should occur in 2019, so I can't really add 2-year projected inventory to my current count.

In general hobby terms, I have accomplished a little more.  Mounting a Dremel drill press on a portable platform marked the last of the major studio upgrades.  Calling it 'finished' would be too strong, since any art space is no more finished than the art it contains.  It will never be permanent, always a WIP needing minor tweaks and changes.

With just 10 days to go before Reaper Con 2017, I'm finalizing travel plans and checklists.  Traveling in a small car with local friends will be a bit of a challenge, but I think we'll get it worked out.  That's mainly on me, packing lighter than my normal just-in-case/kitchen sink method.  I do need to leave room for a couple of pounds of minis headed for Metal Trade, though.  If I cash out most of it and don't bring back much, I will not negatively impact the 6MMRPC.  Technically, that will be a trade resulting in a net reduction of another hundred or so minis.  Also, RC swag bag doesn't really count because that's a perk for attending the convention, not an outright purchase.  I just have to be careful of impulse buying from Reaper, Darksword, Bombshell and other vendors at the Con.

That's the plan anyway.  We all know about battle plans, though, right?  No plan of battle ever survives first contact with the enemy.  So, the best I can hope for is to trade away more than I bring home.

Speaking of RC2017, my gracious, patient client will sadly not be able to attend this year.  Until recently, I was pushing myself to complete the large, somewhat delicate kit, planning for hand-off at RC rather than shipping.  Instead, I will now try to finish a couple of contest entries for the Master Series Open: Painters category.

Unfortunately, at least three years have passed since my last contest entry, last years's hurried online round notwithstanding.  It may have been a year or two beyond that since I was really pushing it heavily.  Attempting to recall/regain/relearn painting at a competitive level after such a prolonged absence, and in a compressed time frame, may not be possible, or at least not terribly realistic.  We'll see.

Looking ahead, my post-Reaper Con focus will be commission painting and eBay.  The eBay stuff will be mostly unpainted, NIB models, a smattering of painted items, and a few unpainted Ral Partha & Grenadier.  It looks like 2018 will begin before I reduce my personal Mountain by actually painting anything from it, probably Zombicide: Black Plague.

Well, that's it for today.  It's time for me to get back to the workbench!

Monday, September 18, 2017

6MMRPC - Weeks 7 thru 11

Time flies, and catching it can be problematic...

6MMRPC Week 7: by way of quick update, hobby progress this week has been all about the work room. Rolling storage towers have arrived, need to be installed. Shelves and table cleared, rearranged, buried again. Spray booth ordered, should arrive in a couple of weeks.

6MMRPC Week 8: there's not much to tell, hobby-wise. ... kept an eye on the Reaper Bones IV Kickstarter, and worked on a possible run to Reaper Con 2017....chased deals on some used laboratory equipment (a vortex mixer), and set up the new rolling drawer storage. ... More on studio FB page. Blog is now 2 weeks behind, and don't know when I'll get to it.

6MMRPC Week 9: proved how weak I am...Bones IV.  I didn't pledge for a large number of models, but instead for a number of large models.
I took time out for a Labor Day weekend trip to NC for a family reunion, then did some shopping for stuff for the studio. HUGE thanks to BloodThorn Studios for helping to spend my money - I say, that's a joke, son! - and most seriously for the loan of airbrushes and compressor!  Soon we will have an amazing Paint Day and put noticeable dents in our Mountains.
Also last week and while traveling, I firmed up plans to go to Reaper Con in the back half of October. Who else do I know that is planning to go?  Comment below!

6MMRPC Week 10:
Looking ahead...nah, who am I kidding?  I'm going to bed.  Good night!

 The studio has come together fairly well, so this should be the last week of excuses.  Spray booth installed early in the week, and picked up venting parts just last night. 'Final' tools were also ordered. Still shopping for the airbrush paint combos needed for a larger commissioned model.
Today I've spent mostly looking ahead, planning for Reaper Con; commissions I hope to finish and deliver, a contest entry or two, and a couple of projects to work on in classes. That's a lot of prep, and not a lot of painting for the next week or two. Between prep sessions, while glue dries and putty cures, I may splash some paint on a quick item or two from my personal Mountain. Just for practice, try to get back in a painting groove, so to speak.
Musing, 'writing aloud' here. Will know more once contest & class items are picked out.

6MMRPC Week 11 (thru September 17): Real Life pulled me away, again.  It was a wild, weird, tiring, and mostly awful week.  There was a death in my family, travel, work, a Paint Day, yard work, Sunday night at the office...blech.  I'm whupped.  Still, I got a little more setup done in the studio and shopping for tools and paints.  Paint Day was great, giving me time to hang out with friends, start prep & assembly on a large kit, and slap a little paint on a couple of practice minis.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

6MMRPC - Week 6

This week's update should bear an uncanny resemblance to last week.  At the end of week 5, I mentioned the planned addition of a spray booth.  That hasn't been ordered, yet, but should be within the next day or two.

Week 6 also closes with more plans than actions.  Some new rolling storage & organization should arrive tomorrow, and the plan is to top that with a photo station.  Over the coming weeks, the studio - occasionally referred to my "Den" (what Grey Wolf can be happy without a den, right?) - will be rearranged and some areas re-tasked.

Why am I doing this?  Well, good home cooks and professional chefs have said they do not enjoy the process or create their best work without good 'flow' in the kitchen.  By that they mean they want uncluttered, dedicated areas with the proper tools close at hand.  They want an area for food and ingredient storage, wash/prep, cooking, and delivery.  My thought was, why would my hobby / art studio be so different?  I have already found over the years that I do not function well in a cluttered space.  Sure, I'll make a mess while I work, but eventually a project will end and I will clean up, get ready to make a fresh start on the next one.

Years ago, I set up a dedicated paint station, really just an old drawing table set level, at a height comfortable for mini painting.  That helped in terms of quickly sitting down and working on minis, rather than dragging things out of boxes and storage tubs, then putting it all away.

However, basing, sanding and other dusty tasks can lead to rough paint jobs, so I made WIP covers out of 2-liter soda bottles.  That helped, but took up more space on the painting table.  Now, clear those away, and the prep work, and snap WIP photos with a cell phone in the same space.  Not good results.  Then reset for...uh...wait, where was I?  What was I doing for this mini?  Where did my paints go, the ones I was using for that green cloak?  Too much wasted time!

So, here I am, creating separate stations around the room, each dedicated to various hobby aspects or mini painting stages.  I am positive good 'flow' around the room, through each part of the process, with the proper tools close at hand, will help me.

I can hear my painting mentors and friends, now, saying things like, "There is no substitute for butt-in-chair time" and "Stop fiddling with other stuff, just sit down and paint!".  Oh, and there there's the classic, "Quit procrastinating!  Start painting!" :-)

Your mileage may vary.  I am thankful for the luxury of a space I can call a studio, and a loving, supportive (or long-suffering, maybe?) wife who indulges my hobby/business.

[/rambling thoughts]

How do you set up your work space?  Do you have a dedicated room, or desk, or a portable station?  I am curious to know what works for you, what makes you happy and keeps you interested in the hobby.  Please feel free to post your comments below.

Until next time...

Sunday, August 6, 2017

6MMRPC - Week 5

This week, progress has been made in terms of sales and staging for photos & listing.  Commissioned models arrived mid-week, including one big kitbashed combo of Anime garage kit & WH40K.

As noted mid-week, I failed my Willpower roll and ordered one mini.  Since then, Reaper's Bones IV Kickstarter has pulled me in for six wraiths.  So, now I'm down two Jokers for the Challenge, and we're only five weeks in.  Gotta reign in my impulse buying.

For the big kit and future projects, airbrush work will be required.  Surface primer, basecoats, large projects like scale models of cars and aircraft, for example, all can benefit in speed and smoothness by airbrush.  Rattle can primer is fine for most minis, but without a serious spray booth, only outside in the right (read: somewhat rare) weather conditions and daylight.  So, it looks like a good spray booth is the next big upgrade for Grey Wolf Studio.

I have considered a DIY booth project, but over the past 8 years or so, ever since first being introduced to airbrushing, I've built and scrapped several cardboard paint booths.  There were two sessions on the patio to keep fumes and particulates outside, but again, see also: Kentuckiana weather.  I've tried a box fan, air filter, cardboard, and light plywood in several configurations, but nothing worked well enough to use metallic paint through an airbrush, much less an aerosol.  I've discussed better DIY versions with my buddy, Brandon, and researched quite a bit online, but still can't come up with a design that fits all the criteria without a large investment of time, money and hassle.

So, over the last few evenings, I've been researching pre-built, commercially available hobby spray booths.  Size, style, capacity, cost, filters, venting, lighting...all the criteria.  I've considered purposes, justified the cost, and sketched a new layout for the studio.  A professionally built, 24" wide, lighted unit from Pace Paint Booths, Perrysburg, Ohio, seems to be the best choice for now and in the long run.  I should be ordering in a couple of days.  When it arrives and gets set up, there may be an unboxing/review for this page, maybe a (gasp!) video.  Don't hold me to that, though, I am much more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it, especially with video.

The new layout should also make room for a photo station as well as improve storage and efficiency overall.  Reducing clutter and organizing helps my creativity, allows me to sit down and work at a 'station' with less prep & cleanup time.  And a good spray booth will allow me to paint, base, spray, glue and varnish year round.

Until next week, ciao!