Thursday, January 31, 2008

JAFP*

Well, here we are again, another blog posting. Maybe a few belated new years’ resolutions, too.

Sorry I’ve been a bit quiet of late; boring old real life has been getting in the way of noodling around on the internet. On the bright side, Amy and I have gone a long way toward creating a native garden which in turn in drought-stricken Melbourne goes a long way toward saving water and making it possible to keep a garden alive!

So it goes.

In the blog world, I’ve not had too much to say and am trying to keep to a policy of not saying anything if I have nothing of substance to say. That’s the problem with blogs, I think. That empty page and the perception of an “audience” sometimes prompts me to write where I do not always have too much to say.

It is nice for me to put up yet another picture of the same dozen toy soldiers and say “Well, just did the highlights on their coats – what do you all think out there?” but it doesn’t always add to much to the greater discourse, does it?

Does it?

I resolve not to blog about having painted the gaiter buttons on the officers of the grenadier company of IR35, no matter what a terrific job I think I have done.

That brings me to another little niggle that’s been with me since I stumbled across an article in some Wargames mag or other while in the UK. Proper references later, but the gist of the article was what are you guys blogging about? Your miniatures? Please! I only want you top blog about well-painted miniatures, not some of the duff bits and pieces that I’m seeing.

This was accompanied by some photographs of some rather ordinary bits of painting (unattributed) on some decidedly unappealing bits of sculpting that allegedly illustrated his point that people were/are getting lavishly praised for any old thing.

I cannot begin to tell you how the patronising tone of this article got my back up. I fairly choked on my Full English breakfast!

I actually think the tone of posting that we have in the “blog-o-sphere” is possibly a product of the comments moderation policies of those of us who run blogs, rather than the fairly pathetic sycophancy that the writer seems to think holds sway.

I do think sometimes that commenters are over-nice or over-generous and that sometimes a post will be left as much to register a visit as much as anything else.

What are your thoughts?

I promise not to moderate any comments that are cranky, gnarled or spiky. And yes, you do only have my word for that!

UPDATE: The Article was "Wargaming Meets the X Factor" in WI #241, by Barry Hilton.

I'm strangely conflicted about the article insofar as Mr Hilton basically goes out and sets up a straw man - that the internet has bred a lot of people out for fame as it were and that this is coupled with a lot o people out there who'll praise any old rubbish. I think that what annoyed me was the broad brush approach he took and his complete lack of any real examples.

He then holds up a number of figure painters who he believes are worthy of praise.

Speaking for myself, I may enjoy the work of Holger Schmidt or Kev Dallimore, but really would not try to emulate them as I don't believe that their painting styles are sustainable over the kind of army that I am interested in raising. Indeed, modern painting exemplars strike me as being really only suitable for the single miniature or at most for the skirmish game. Taking the point just a little further, I really find the kind of painting admired by Mr Hilton just a bit depressing because I know that there would be no way I could ever finish of a 60-figure unit in anything like an acceptable time-frame.

Perhaps the failing is mine.

UPDATE the Second: I've posted reasonably lenthy responses in the to the comments in the "Comments" section.

*Who remembers "Blue Thunder"?

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't mind the "here's a photo of what I've been working on" posts. And to heck with any painting snobs who don't like anyone else's work (or who hate plastics).
andygamer

Bloggerator said...

I just find they are a pretty dull exercise and often are just making up space when I have nothing better to talk about.

I really prefer something like one long posting showing how someone does something - like the series Stokes Schwartz (Grand Duchy of Stollen) is doing on how he makes his buildings for example.

Still, it's horses for courses.

I quite like plastics, especially the excellent products available today. I'm wanting to take the plunge (in earnest) into WW2 Nth Africa - especially when I see that the Plastic Soldier Review Website has some WW2 releases coming up this year from Italeri.

Stryker said...

Greg
Personally I like to read that you have added a few buttons to a grenadier’s gaiter and I like to see the picture too. Maybe I am a bit sad (my wife would confirm this) but it’s the sense of sharing an interest that I like. To me looking at another wargamers blog is a bit like dropping round and nosing through their soldier collection and having a chat and a cup of tea. In some ways the virtual visit is better than a real visit, for a start you don’t have the embarrassment of saying hello to their other half and getting that raised eyebrow "have you really come here to look at toy soldiers" look. I’ve seen some not so good figure painting on blogs (not here of course) but I don’t feel offended by it anymore than I would if invited to take part in a game with the same figures. So Greg, don’t worry if you don’t feel you have much to say, just a few lines and another snap is great as far as I’m concerned - and perhaps another shot of your fort eh?
Ian

Andy Mitchell said...

I'd regard the author in that wargames mag as being particularly clueless. What on earth does he think a blog is?

High literature?

For me, a blog is an opportunity to talk to people who share the same interests. I doubt I'll find many people locally who are interested in wargaming the 18thC with 30mm figures. So instead I'll join a global wargames club that is composed of like minded bloggers.

We can talk trivia, including gaiter buttons, and look at each other's figures just as we would do if we met in a reallife wargames club. Its what people do naturally, we are just making use of technology to find the right people to talk with.

Andy Mitchell said...

"but it doesn’t always add to much to the greater discourse, does it?"

I doubt I'd ever have any interest in the doings of a superior mortal such as the author of the article you have referred to, but I am interested in the progress of your armies.

Snickering Corpses said...

I'll echo what andy said about the joining a global wargames club. I have no real nearby opponents for what I do, so the blogging world gives me an outlet.

I'll also add another thought. Those pictures of progress of miniatures that are, perhaps, only "okay" in painting have their place not only in the 'virtual visit' that Stryker describes, but also in encouraging folks such as I, who are unlikely to ever be great artists but can be encouraged to see that simple paint jobs can look alright. And those in progress shots sometimes provide great ideas of HOW to achieve a look that otherwise would seem unreachable.

Bloggerator said...

I take the point that it's nice to pop in and see what's on. And I like praise as much as the next bloke, too, I accept that, SC, but it gets to feel a bit pointless after a while. A bit "more of the same", I suppose and it's starting to affect how I feel about the whole blogging business. I sometimes feel as though I spend more time talking about it than doing it - rather like being a teenager again!

I know this runs a bit counter to my complaint about the WI article, but perhaps we ought not lard each other doewn with praise on how great the gaiter buttons look. I think we might all benefit from being told the gaiter buttons look a bit sloppy, how about you try this or that?

I don't know, what do you reckon?

Greg

Bluebear Jeff said...

As one of those who unashamedly gives my figures a rather simple (but I feel very adequate for my purposes) paint job, I feel that it may help those others who also don't paint to "museum standard".

I haven't posted much recently because of the holidays and illness . . . and I don't feel that I have to post something every day or two . . . just when I have something to write about.

I will confess to having left a few "courtesy" comments on blogs that apparently don't have many visitors . . . but I don't lie.

I most emphatically agree that our "blogging community" helps provide encouragement and information for many of us . . . and it certainly often inspires me when I read interesting posts.

I have some favorite bloggers whom I visit almost every day . . . and others just upon occasion. We probably all do that. And the ones I visit regularly are those from whom I learn a lot or whose efforts I appreciate.

An example of the first is "Steve-the-Wargamer"'s blog. He mixes in lots of historical background about the unit's he paints.

Another is the Kingdom of Wittenberg because he always takes such care with the look of his battle photos.

I suspect that their blogs aren't visited all that often because I see few comments . . . but I enjoy them. Their URLs are:

http://steve-the-wargamer.blogspot.com/
http://tidders-kingdomofwittenberg.blogspot.com/

Of course there are many others that I like . . . we all know about most of them. The above are perhaps less well-known.


-- Jeff

Anonymous said...

One mistake Hilton makes is to assume that his idea of great painting/sculpting etc. is universally accepted. I've seen his stuff year in,year out at shows and don't like it. The Black undercoat style he favours is far too cold and souless, it's painting by numbers. Where the flare(s)? There's a certain amount of fascism that's crept in to the hobby in recent years - when i was young you would see all sorts of painting and figure styles, these days if it's not foundry style dwarves with guns, painted with black undercoat and layers of (often inappropriate) highlights then it's crap. Bollocks to that. This is my hobby and i do it to please myself.

Stryker said...

Greg
Perhaps you are feeling the pressure because your blog has received much (deserved) praise and has doubtless inspired many others to take up blogging themselves. For myself, I have really enjoyed dropping in on Alzheim and seeing the progress of your army although I don’t normally feel the need to comment. Perhaps you are thinking about it too much? Anyway, I really do like those gaiter buttons...
Ian

MiniWargamer said...

I think that wargaming is, more than anything else, a social activity. I don't like football or soccer and so don't have a whole lot to talk about as far as that's concerned, and I am interested in talking about, and listening to or reading about, toy soldier stuff. There are some blogs that I always go to because the interest quotient runs better than 50%. There are some I look at that have little content I am interested in (technical blogs about Joomla, etc.) Blogging is part of the hobby, it's just the newer version of Featherstone's wargaming journal.

Stokes Schwartz said...

Good Morning Greg,

I'll second Ian (Stryker's) remarks above. As you noted yourself in once of your Battlegames pieces, the internet (and blogs) make it possible for those of us who indulge in painting and collecting model soldiers to see what others are doing.

Through blogs, I've met a bunch of really great people around the world and become somewhat integrated into the larger community of American gamers. So, I say we form a posse, find the sanctimonious sounding author of that article, and tar and feather him! ;-)

By the way, the garden you and Amy are working on sounds interesting. My wife wants to do something similar here in Illinois with native prairie grasses and plants.

Best Regards,

Stokes

Andy Mitchell said...

1. I've been coming here to check up on your progress and have been wondering if you were losing interest. If all you have to show is gaiter buttons, then show me the gaiter buttons. You were one of the sites that got me to start collecting again.

2. Constructive criticism that improves what I do is great, I just got a much needed photography tip that way. But simple encouragement is fine by me, it's a way of saying hello, I don't do enough of it myself.

3. From what I have read (and I believe I can connect him to a website) I suspect what he's really saying is 'shut up unless you are like me'. And that's not OK.

Snickering Corpses said...

Stokes and Jeff up above are two of the primary reasons I got back into wargaming. I found their conversational styles charming and easy to read, and they sparked a number of ideas that got me active again.

Everything in wargaming is imagination-driven, whether it's imagined reality or imagined fantasy. And imagination often needs ideas on which to feed to keep it going.

Fitz-Badger said...

I think the other commenters have laid it out very well. These blogs vary from individual fellow hobbyists sharing a common interest (many of whom, like me, may not have local fellow hobbyists to share with, or maybe have other circumstances such as health reasons or "real life" that make getting together with in person on any kind of regular basis difficult or impossible; some of us may also enjoy solo aspects of gaming on it's own merit) to a few guys close enough geographically to be able to game together occasionally to sort online communal storytelling. In a way it does become sort of an online gaming and miniatures club.
The various blogs were what got me interested in gaming the 18th century at a time when I was losing interest in fantasy minis and looking for other options. And the blogs are also one of the main factors that not only keep that interest going, but make it stronger. I enjoy seeing what other gamers are working on, getting inspired by their painting, characters, battle reports, tidbits of history, the occasional how-to, pictures of scenery and battles, etc., etc.
Doing my own blog is a way for me to share a little, a way to spur me to keep making progress, and a way to get a little feedback or answers to questions, and as someone said acts as a sort of gaming or hobby journal that I can look back on and see where I have been. Sure, very few people will have any interest in what I post in my blog, but that's ok (as Stuart Smalley might say).

If you want to see minis painted to high standards there are plenty of places to see those. But some of us also enjoy seeing minis painted for gaming. Some in progress shots and info might spur a small "aha" moment, or inspire a fellow gamer to try different techniques.

Like I always say, it's all about the fun. If you aren't interested in what a blog has to say or show you aren't required to read it. :)

Bluebear Jeff said...

I agree with everything that Fitz-Badger just said.

Also, while reading his comment, I am reminded by what an insurance agent told me.

He said that once all of my figures were unpacked (most are still in boxes), to take photos of them and post them on-line for insurance purposes in case they are stolen or destroyed.

While I haven't done that per se, I can point to a photos documenting a lot of my Tricorne figures (as well as a few other armies -- Feudal Spanish and Samurai).

But mainly I think that it is the camaraderie of our fellow gamers that energizes me as I follow their blogs.


-- Jeff

Bloggerator said...

Jeff,

Samurai??? You saucy devil, you're teasing me aren't you?

I'll admit to a small collection of the old Citadel Samurai. I've not painted them yet because I lack the courage - I want them to be "just right".

Have you any pictures?

Greg

Bloggerator said...

I'll do two seperate responses as I think the comments have gone in two ways -my fault for concatenating two "issues".

Blogging.

I accept with thanks the many kind things you've been saying, I really do. I understand the appeal of dropping in on a blog and having a poke around, and i'm sometimes surprised by the amount of content that i have built up over the past couple of years. Fitz makes an excellent point (and one that I wish I'd thought of!) when he mentions that for the more isolated hobbyist the blogging community is a pretty good second-best when it comes to building a peer group. I'm in a similar position myself - although I suspect this is as much due to my own temperament or shyness - and do most of my "thing" solo.

SC too makes the point that the blog-o-sphere feeds the imagination which is pretty important. Imagineering (to pinch a word from Bill P) is easily as important as getting stuck in with the paintbrush, dice and bounce-stick.

Stokes, I've always found a great deal of interest in your blog. Your miniatures collection pushes me stylistically one way (while that of Jim Purky pulls me another!). Your own style really puts me in mind of Grant the Elder. With regard the gardening - we are working to the theory that indigineous plants will survive better because this is their environment and having said that, I think that's a tpic for another blog, so again, an inspiration from you!

For everyone else who I have read but not directly addressed, I do continue to feel that the gaiter button style of blogging is not always for me; it's just unsatisfying and has contributed rather to my decreased interest in posting. I do recognise that people are interested in what's going on here, as I am interested in what's going on "out there". I am sure that in future I'll be doing further gaiter button counting posts, but not just now.

Phew!

Bloggerator said...

Painting and yukky snobbery.

There are painters and they all have their own styles.

I am a style whore. For those who have been reading the blog for a while they may know that once I was a white undercoat, paint and wash stylist for a long time. More recently - say in the past twelve to eighteen months or so - I have changes to using a black undercoat and have concentrated on developing a simpler, quicker style that lets me paint from "dark to light" while maintaining a neat looking figure.

I've tried block-paintng and black-lining (take a look at the pix of the Bourbonnois Regiment) and for my taste it takes too long.

But that's my taste, and of course my taste is a very personal thing. There are painting styles that are delicous to look at that I would never dream of emulating because I lack the skill, or don't have the time to spend or lack the steady hand.

Whatever! And also, no matter! If I like a paint job I'll say so and hang any bloke who thinks that a paint job is only worth praise if it meets his expectations.

It's no way to encourage a poor painter to simply rip him or her to shreds. No. I'd rather re-inforce success and praise what's good about a figure rather than dwelling over-lomg on what's bad.

I take the same approach to the odd figure review that I write for Battlegames - I'd much rather look for the positives in a product than rip it up with pure negatives.

My two cents, for what they're worth.

Stokes Schwartz said...

Good Morning Greg,

Oh come on now. . . gaiter buttons really aren't as bad as all that! ;-) Enjoy the weekend!

Best Regards,

Stokes

Steve said...

Fitzbadger has it to a 'T'... I look upon my blog as a 'diary come wargames journal' - I record things there that I want to keep, I note tips/resources and webistes, but in doing that I can also share that with other gamers.. if they find it interesting (thanks Jeff!) great, but if not, it doesn't really matter because the very act of blogging is a kind of incentive to me - it makes me do "more".. :o)

W.r.t the article by Mr Hilton - I read it, understood what he was saying, and ignored it.... the painting style I have meets my requirements, but isn't a patch on the high quality I see on some other blogs - and that's *life* isn't it?? Some peope have nicer cars than me (most probably), more attractive children (I doubt it), better looking wives (no chance!) but it's not a reason to hide the car in the garage or the family in the house.. :o))

One last thing - yes, I do want to hear about the gaiters - don't make the mistake of thinking that just because you think it's boring, we all will - we're a broad church, and your 'boring' is someone elses 'enthralling'... :o)) My blog is a wargaming diary - I don't spend 100% of my time painting or gaming (and wouldn't want to), I also spend a lot of time thinking about stuff, reading, watching films, etcetc, so those activities are also grist for the blog...

Last, last, thing - I visit your blog most days and haven't seen a duff post yet... :o)

Bluebear Jeff said...

Greg,

I'm afraid that currently the only Samurai photo I have is fairly blurry. They are the old Ral Partha 25mm Samurai. You can see that one lousy photo (which just shows them sitting on a shelf) at:

http://jeffs-ancients.blogspot.com/

But back to the main subject. I have purchased a bunch of SYW RSMs primarily because of the photos that I saw on your blog . . . for which I thank you very much!


-- Jeff

tidders said...

I started out with my own website diary and moved to the blogosphere.
I was inspired to get going after finding the Duchy of Alzheim during a web search.

I use my blog as a way of recording what I'm doing and how far I've got along with my project - also to share with others. I visit the other blogs regularly and like to see how everybody is getting on, I find it can give me ideas for my armies or inspire me to develop my scenario more.

I don't care if people post stuff about painting gaiters - it's just nice to see them enjoying themselves.

-- Allan