Monday, July 14, 2014

Miniature Painting Masters: Victor Hardy

Hey everyone, I know this one was up on Bell of Lost Souls awhile ago, but I never posted it here since my blog was kind of "hibernating" at the time. I know it has been quite awhile since the last installment, but I bring you a true legend today: Victor Hardy.

I have recently gotten the honor of meeting Victor in person and have even played a few games against him (his Golden Demon winners beat me on the table too). Once I started this series I knew I had to get him to contribute.

Tyler: How did you first become a member of the miniature wargaming and painting hobby?

Victor: It started in the old days, around 1991.  I went to a con called Texas Con and saw people playing 40k for the first time.  My buddies decided to buy the game and we started playing on the dorm floor.  The rest is history.

Gold in Open 2001 Golden Demon

T: How do you approach painting a display model and painting a gaming model differently? (styles, time taken, methodology, etc)

V: I really do not differentiate between the two.  I play my display pieces.  However, I really only paint minis intended to be of display/competition quality. 

Bronze Canadian Games Day 2001

T: Since focusing on the painting side of the hobby more, how often do you find time to play games? Is that still important to you?

V: I play about six games a year—not much.  I enjoy a good game.  Its just hard to find the time.

The winning mini from 1997.
T: How long had you been painting at what you would consider a serious level before you won an award? (Golden Demon or other) and can you take us through a little of your thought process on how you prepared that winning model.

V: The first time I went to a Golden Demon was in 1997 and I won the gold in 40k single miniature:
It was really my first miniature of any quality (low quality by the standards of today) and it took me about two weeks to paint it.  I  had been painting for a few years but I never spent more than a few hours on a mini.  It was this unexpected win that drew me into being a competitor.   Following year, I did not place but both minis were published in the White Dwarf as honorable mentions.

The year 2000, however, I won the Slayer Sword with my Bloodthirster. 

Slayer Sword 2000
 I had spent nearly 6 months on it and it really represented the first mini which I would consider to be a serious miniature and really changed me in terms of my style and interest in the competition.  I learned the most valuable secret of miniature painting with that mini—which still holds true today.   The most important factor in how good your mini is,  is how much time you put into it.   Superior talent, dexterity, color theory and even experience can all be overcome with patience and planning.  The more time you take with the mini, the better it is.  The second biggest secret is water down your paints!!!   In my mind, I had decided that I was going to paint the very best mini I could and would spend whatever time it took to do it.  It paid off with a sword.  

T: What is your favorite model or models that you have painted? This can either be the one(s) you enjoyed painting the most, was happiest with the final paint job, or just really appreciate the sculpt.

V: There is no question what that model is:  Golgotha.  

This piece was my defining work and took over two years to paint. 

T: Looking through the portfolio of your winning models you clearly favor Chaos minis, what is it that draws you to them?

V: Two reasons.  First, Chaos minis are amenable to a stern Gothic/Medieval look.   
I think that Gothic/Medieval Christian art is the most powerful imagery in history. It moves me. I think that the serious "real world" religious references depicted in my minis gives them more force than the strict fictional GW imagery for which we have no real emotional connection.  To convey a sense of ancient evil from the past, I adopted recognizable stylistic elements from the Gothic, Byzantine, Rennaisance time periods and adopted the complex, overwrought style (frescoes and epic imagery) from these periods.   I just enjoy painting these kinds of images.  One of my life’s goals is to do an old school  oil painting in the realistic style of the past.  
Second, I haven’t finished my army yet.  All of the pieces I have painted are intended to be in the same army.  I wanted to paint the very best Chaos army I could.  I am not done.

Slayer Sword Baltimore 2002
T: Having spoken to you before you mentioned how you were pretty involved in the miniature painter community in New York a while ago. Can you briefly explain the attitude of that community? Were a lot of ideas shared to help bring miniature painting forward? All I can picture is the artist community of the 1960’s from New York but with our hobby instead, which, by the way, would be awesome.

V: Competitive mini painting is usually a group thing.  You have a friend that does it, so you start doing it.  Next thing you know everyone jumps in the car and goes to Gamesday, putting the last lick of paint minutes before the competition.  Consequently, different parts of the country have different pockets of mini painters.   Back in the day, the three main groups were New York, Chicago (Haley, Borer, Orteza) and Atlanta (Wilson, Smallings ).  In New York, the major painters were myself, Bobby Wong, Tim Lison, Douglas Hahn and a few others.  At the turn of the century, our little group was dominating the national contest.  Until 2002, there was only one contest for the whole country.  In 2000, I won the slayer sword. In 2001, Bobby Wong won the slayer sword.  In 2002, I won the Baltimore Slayer Sword.  In 2004, Tim won the Staff Slayer sword.  We would all get together in the Spring and compare minis.  At this time, the standard of competition was still growing and changing vastly year to year.   We would not show our work until right before the contest so that we didn’t cause the other person to step up their game.  Then after the contest we would share painting secrets and ideas.  One year Bobby had painted his entire Bloodquest squad but he had told me that he was only entering single miniature.  He suddenly whipped out the whole squad days before the competition and blew everyone away.  I would frequently hang out for hours talking with Bobby and Doug about minis.  Being around other people and having them push you harder in the Hobby is critical to competing at the top level.

Bobby Wong's 2001 Slayer Sword Winner
T: You have won 8 Golden Demon awards of various colors and 2 Slayer Swords over the years. The last time was back in 2006. Why the break in painting for competitions? What are your plans for the future painting wise?

V: Well it really goes to Golgotha. In 2004, I wanted to be the first U. S. competitor to win the UK Slayer Sword.  I put everything I had in painting the Golgotha, spending over 500 hours on it.  I was hugely disappointed when it did not place and one of the Judges told me that it was not considered because the use the overtly religiously iconography on the daemon miniatures was offensive.   After the competition the religious nature of the mini and the disqualification was discussed on the different Hobby websites.  As most internet discussions go, some liked the mini but there were some that mercilessly attacked it for its content.  I guess after the disappointment and controversy, I just lost it.  I just didn’t have any great ideas for a mini that inspired me.  This went on for many years.  I wanted to paint something new but the next great idea never came to me. Inspiration can be a weird thing.   A few years ago this ended.  I started working on a new piece “MaGog” and I know exactly what I want to paint. I have completed the body of the mini and just need to finish the banner work.   I just now need the time to do it.  One day I hope to be back!  

This, however, is the best part of the story about the 2006 UK Golden Demon that was never told.  The people I met were incredible, and among those it was meeting the French that made greatest impression on me.  I had the pleasure of getting to spend the day with:  Jeremy Bonamant (Bragon), Bruno Grelier, Allan C, Jacque Alexandre, and  David Waeselynck.  They had all piled in a van and drove form France—sleeping in the van the night before.  These guys were crazy!  They ranged from a teen ager to a man ns his late 40s—all crammed in the van.  They were so enthusiastic and passionate about the hobby that they were on just another level.  I spent the day talking to them about painting and looking at their work.  It was awesome.  I have so much respect for their work.  Not since the Battle of Hastings did the French do so well on British soil.  The French invasion swept the golden demons and Jacque Alexander took home the Slayer Sword.

Now here is the amazing part.   Bruno Grelier had entered into the same category as Golgotha.  When he saw that Golgotha had been disqualified, he gave me his trophy and asked me to take it.  He insisted that I should have his trophy because he felt I deserved it.  Now think about this. I had never met Bruno Grelier before in my life.  We didn’t even speak a common language.  He gave one of the most precious things a Golden competitor can have (i.e., his trophy) to a complete stranger.  Only someone that is totally  passionate and crazy about the hobby could do such a thing.  I have always wanted to repay this random act of kindness.  I have wanted to win a slayer sword and send it back to him.  Unfortunately, I haven’t won any in a long while.  I have never spoken to Bruno since that day.  I hope to make a comeback and when I do I am going to find Bruno Grelier wherever he is in the world and pay him back with a sword!  One day.   

Bronze 2001 Canadian Games Day

Until next time,

Tyler M.

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