Now Reading
NOVA Open 2018: Conclusions & Loot

NOVA Open 2018: Conclusions & Loot

One of the great things about NOVA is it gathers so many great hobbyists and teachers in one place. NOVA always brings in someone new every year (often from over seas), and I’ve enjoyed learning something different from each instructor.

When you’re in these classes, you pick up on more than just the technique or concept the class is about.  You also get insight into the general philosophy or attitude the teacher takes towards their work. 

Sometimes, that’s the more important take away than the painting technique the class was about.

Most teachers will tell you they’re in it for the fun, but a lot will also say that when it’s a job it’s tough work and really takes a certain kind of person to do it.

The thread that really stood out for me is the happiness part of that.

One of Roman’s sayings is “Paint Happy” – his philosophy is that painting should be for you, as the painter. The act of painting should be enjoyable, and if it isn’t – you’re doing something wrong. He often signs his art prints with the slogan.

Sam and Alfonso both echoed similar things.  Watching Sam paint was a masterclass in throwing caution to the wind and just painting for fun.  He didn’t have much of a plan going in, but he took cues from the room, how he was feeling and just improvised.  Alfonso took Roman’s concept a touch further and spoke about how different painting styles are fun for different people – it’s a personal, tailored experience, so paint however makes you happiest.  Experiment often.

I don’t think my current method of painting is one that makes me happy;  I know my painting isn’t yielding the happiness it could.

The good news is: I’ve come to terms with why this is the case and I have been brainstorming some strategies to rectify it.

Conclusions from NOVA 2018:

After learning so many new techniques, reinforcing good habits and revealing bad ones I should work on, I always seem to get pulled into a period of self-reflection after NOVA.  It’s scary examining my workflow, style and painting “work ethic” but it is exciting at the same time because this represents a real chance to recognize where and how I should make some changes.

Conclusion 1:  I rework my projects a lot, and it’s getting too costly.

I’m one of those people that will start all over from scratch when I learn a new way that I think is better than what I had been using.  That’s fine for some things, like programming or running a dungeon in World of Warcraft, but when the work in progress is a physical thing, It’s very wasteful in terms of both time and materials.

That compulsion to restart also hugely impacts any sense of progress because all the work done up to that reset point is largely lost; I’m constantly back at square one.  That severely impacts any sense of accomplishment, which is a primary motivator for any artist.

I am never happy to do it, but I always seem to find a way to convince myself resetting is for the better. Obviously, that’s not true, but compulsions are real, and you can’t always win out over them.

So, it’s time to draw the line.  I need to consciously make a change.  I’m going to have to force myself to not rework anything, but instead adapt and overcome.


As several of the teachers this year pointed out when I asked them – not every experimental piece needs to be finished.  It’s OK to move on after you’ve learned what you set out to learn.

Either way, starting over is no longer allowed.

Conclusion #2: If I’m not having fun, I’m doing something wrong.

One issue I encountered in my commission painting was that I had to force myself to finish.  A lot.  I wasn’t having fun, and that caused me to find something…. anything else to do… except paint. 

And I don’t want to blame the commission work itself, either.  I enjoyed the projects I took, my clients were great and I learned about painting faster, and I learned quite a bit about myself during the process.  I also may still take the occasional job here or there.

The truth is that long ago I recognized that I was buying stuff and planning armies far faster than I was painting them and playing them.  So, I did my best to enforce a policy of finishing things before getting started on the next thing.  I wanted to have things wither nicely packed away in the closet, or painted and ready to play.  Works in progress are a pain to store, and when they get damaged or abandoned for too long, it’s much more difficult to get them back onto the workbench.  Which… led to wanting to strip them and restart or sell the partially painted models and buy new, clean ones.

Now that I’ve stopped taking commissions, I don’t have to hold myself to completing one project before allowing myself to start the next.  Which leaves my self-imposed rule, which I want to try turning “off” for a bit.

For instance, this guy was really fun, completely off-script and impromptu, and I’m super happy every time I see him.

I’m giving myself permission to set works in progress aside and work on whatever is most captivating in that moment.  I need to listen to my muse instead of bullying it around based on some arbitrary schedule.

I think this will be a healthier for me, mentally, and it will cause a new workflow to emerge.  Adam from Tabletop Minions had a great video on “Build Mode vs Paint Mode” that was a key player in this realization.  Check it out, here:

One way I’m going to embrace this concept of freedom is through Kill Team.  The game only asks for ten or so models, and it encourages customization and uniqueness.  I can play with a concept or idea and I only have to invest time and money in a few models.  I have ideas for quite a few teams, and I’m also hopeful that completing a new team will give me the momentum to get out and go play games.

Of course, I won’t be setting all of my other interests aside…

Who knows, if I play then I might even win something!

Besides Kill Team, some locals are interested in doing a Age of Sigmar Path to Glory Campaign, for which I plan on fielding HOLY SPACE DINOSAURS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.  I’ve also got Infinity which is a completely different look and feel from GW’s games, and I’m feeling my break from Warmachine & Hordes coming to an end.  The new Man-o-War models are awesome, no longer completely unplayable, and I haven’t painted pink for a while…

The real test will be if allowing myself to switch between projects will actually yield finished work faster than forcing myself to get through it.

Conclusion #3: Running at 100% all the time leads to burn-out.

One aspect of my 2018 NOVA experience that I’m surprised at is how little I’m bothered by the fact I didn’t have a Capital Palette entry.  It’s the only competition I have a chance to enter in, and in past years I’ve really pressured myself to not squander it.  However, I just didn’t have the time this year because of our move and the repercussions of downsizing to a place half the size.

It was nice to not have the anxiety of wondering how I would do, and it was great to have freedom during the downtime between my classes.  Last year I spent every spare moment adding more detail to my entry, even randomly deciding to go for OSL at the last minute.

This year, my goal instead was to not field a single silver miniature in my Infinity Tournament. I didn’t care if they weren’t finished, I just wanted them at least to be airbrushed and based.

And I achieved that.  And it forced me out of my perfectionist rut, and it forced me to take time during the con to do other things.

I had considerably more time to hang with friends, and I was able to take demos and long lunches.  It enabled me to hang after class and chat with teachers, or go get a drink with friends.  All things I did plenty of at my first convention, before I was really interested in painting for competitions.

Don’t get me wrong, I definitely would like to have something to show in the painting competition next year, but I’m going to start playing with things and get some projects started now, instead of waiting until the month before the con.  I’ve got the time, and I if my other plans work out, I think slowing down may actually cause me to speed up.

Speed kills, after all. (#americanninjawarrior)

Ok, enough of this touchy-feely wall of text, how about we look at all of the stuff I stole purchased from the sponsors and vendors that were at the con?

The Phat Loots

I brought home so much stuff.  SO MUCH STUFF!!

Half of it was swag from my fully loaded SuperNOVA swag bag.  The rest I purchased because I had just sold off all of my Cryx models, and I have zero self-control.  It’s largely the latter, reinforced and fed by the former.

I make no apologies, I’m proud of what I did.

Which is why after taking these pictures, I promptly put it all away and hid the evidence.  And why I’m now posting all about it on the internet.

I am not a smart man.

For Kill Team, I picked up The Writhing Shadow box, the Core Manual and the basic tactics card deck.  Most everywhere is sold out of the Starter Box, so this was my backup plan.  Eventually I plan to pick up the Starter Box, and I’ll pass off the spare rulebook and tactics cards to someone else in my local meta.

I got one Warhammer Champions starter deck in my swag bag, and had a blast at the demo, so I picked up a second starter and a pair of booster packs for variety.  I don’t plan on getting any more, because I expect the game to be a huge money sink like Magic: the Gathering.  They were giving out free pins and HP marker coins at the con, promotional items for the new game. And, I’m a sucker for card games. It’s something to have in the bag on beer & pretzels game night when there’s not enough room for another full game board.

The Dark Age Starter was from the Build-and-Play, and the Forge World bag is a WraithSeer.  I was really stoked to see that Forge World brought nearly their entire product line to have for sale at the con.  I almost purchased an Eldar Avatar, but couldn’t stomach the $100 price tag. The FW Horus Heresy model is the Limited Edition Traitor Librarian model, and was part of my SuperNOVA swag. The 30th Anniversary Primaris Sergeant and the Infinity Aleph model (Phoenix, Veteran Myrmidon Officer) were a part of the standard swag bag, so most attendees got those (only the first 400-ish to register are guaranteed a swag bag).

The Bust is Alfonso “Banshee” Giraldes’s Anonymous 1.0 – the one with a small bit of hair and a knowing smirk.  The bags in the front are bags of bits and goodies from Toledo Game Room, aka, “The Bits Guy”.  I found some large bags of Seraphon bits that I can use for terrain, custom battle banners, and (hopefully) a kitbashed Astrolith Bearer.

I always pick up some stencils from Fallout Hobbies, and this year was no different.  They run a nice con special, and it’s great to chat with them about what’s new or coming soon.  This year’s haul includes come infantry sized hex camo for use on my Tau Stealth models and Infinity figures, as well as some larger hex mesh for use on terrain or vehicles.  I also picked up a wings stencil set for my Dark Angles vehicles (I’ve been slowly working out the details on an LED lit Tank Tutorial…), and lastly I decided to grab a dragon scales stencil set, for texture on Eldar vehicles or something else.  I’m not sure, it just spoke to me.

I picked up a Tournament Tray from Tectonic Craft Studios, their “Direct Action” Half Rack.  They’ve been a huge sponsor for the NOVA for many years, and I really felt the pain of not having a tray to securely handle my (partially) painted models at the tournament.  I plan on adding some scenic elements to mine, to help tie it into my Panoceanian forces.  For the price, I feel I can have some fun with theme-ing a tray to each of my armies.

Also by Tectonic are the movement trays.  I picked up some for 28mm bases and one for 32mm bases.  I think they’ll nicely serve two purposes:  One, I want them for my Seraphon force for the Age of Sigmar Path to Glory campaign and two, I think they’ll be really helpful in keeping my display cabinet clean and organized.  The customized con badge is also made by TCS – follow their facebook page and keep your eyes out for when they come to a con near you.

The other MDF products are from Black Maria Designs.  I picked up some work tables and control consoles.  I think they’ll add some much needed flavor for my Infinity research outpost table.

The Tablewar dice bag was a SuperNOVA swag bag item, and the MacroMats will be put to work soon for photographing works in progress and finished pieces.  Not pictured from Tablewar are the 3’x3′ grid overlay which will enable all of our wargaming mats to do double duty for D&D, and I decided in the spur of the moment to pre-order a 30″ x 22″ Kill Team mat.  The desert side will play nicely off my Infinity terrain, and the streets / ruins will work well with the Kill Team terrain.  It was kinda perfect…

Most of the smaller items were Swag Bag stuff:

  • The Hobby Holder was a SuperNOVA item, and is currently loaded with a Diet Coke bottle cap, ready for a model.
  • The Infinity Silhouette Markers and personalized movement widget are part of the customized, personalized SuperNOVA swag, and come from TNT Laser Works.
  • Secret Weapon Miniatures never fails to support the NOVA Open.  This year was a base with a 15% off coupon.  In the past, I’ve gotten a bottle of wash, instead of a base.  I love these kinds of includes in swag bags – I get a base to play with for a display model or a one-off, and I can buy some stuff at a discount later on.  Win-win.
  • Shadow’s Edge sells some pretty nice looking grass tufts.  I hadn’t heard of them before, so I’m glad to have them as a source for tufts and flowers when I need them.
  • Epic Quest Master was a new vendor this year, selling lots of 3D printed terrain.  They included a sample in each SuperNOVA swag bag.  I think my art-deco radio tower thing will fit nicely on the industrial Kill Team table I’m planning on building.

The Games & Gears brushes and brush soap were a generous gift from pal and fellow blogger, Lonely Monk.  He reps for G&G at numerous cons all over the East Coast, and is one of the co-owners of Captain Con.  He and I go way, way back to Templecon, and it was awesome to see him make his NOVA debut.  I’m excited to give these brushes a try – he spoke at length about how many iterations they’ve undergone as the company continues to push for higher and higher quality.  Look out for a product review after I get a chance to really test them out.

The Magnet Baron gave me a 2″ Flight Stand kit, clear superglue and superglue kicker in exchange for a product review.  The Magnet Baron is an advertiser for Bartertown, a miniatures trading forum that I help run in my free time, and it was great to be able to meet in person.  I’m really in love with the magnetic ball idea they’re using, and the poseability it offers for flyers.

I’ve already shown the KR Backpack that was my SuperNOVA Swag Bag, but also not pictured are the KR Multicase card cases I ordered.  

And, that’s it, I’m spent.

Thanks for reading all of this, I think it’s one of the longest posts yet…

View Comment (1)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll To Top