The Military Miniature Society
Show and Class
by Mat Mathis
In the past few years, I’ve attended the Military Miniature Society of Illinois (MMSI) Chicago Show and have viewed some absolute world class figure painting, vignettes, dioramas, and scale modeling on display. After two years of sitting on the sidelines, I decided to get in the game…in more ways than one.
Let’s start at the beginning – several months before, I was scrolling through my local auction house’s phone app.—I commonly do this to see if people have consigned any model kits (spoiler alert: I’ve never seen any come up, but that doesn’t stop me from searching). Instead of model kits, I came across an auction that had several large size dioramas from well-known modelers, including Sheperd Paine. In fact, in this auction were around 10 of his box dioramas. Knowing the significance that Shep Paine and his work has with the members of the MMSI, I contacted Jim DeRogatis, longtime friend of Shep’s to inform him of the auction. Long story short, Jim and several other members of MMSI were able to secure all but one of the Shep Paine dioramas. This then led me to getting on the MMSI email blasts and subscribed to their periodical, The Scabbard.
Fast forward several months, and I receive an email from MMSI with information that there was to be a two-day figure painting class, focusing on faces and textures, that would be held the two days prior to the annual Chicago Show in October. The class would be given by Jim Rice of Sabot Miniatures. Having seen this class being offered before, around the country, I knew that I wanted to do this class if it was ever offered nearby. As soon as I saw the email, I went over to the Sabot Miniatures website to sign up. At this point, one might be asking themselves why a primarily aircraft (and sometimes armor and Sci Fi) modeler may want to spend his hard-earned money on something he’d never done before. Well, for a while now, I’ve wanted to branch out into even more subjects, with figures/busts being the next venture. I felt that it would be a good investment of time and money to take a class from a reputable teacher to build a solid foundation.
The class provided a prepared and mounted bust (in this case, a French Revolutionary), lights, all paints/mediums, and other materials. The student was responsible for bringing brushes, a wet (or other) palette, magnification devices, and a willingness to learn and paint for 8 hours. Upon arriving on the first day, there were about 20 or so workspaces set up in the hotel conference room. In addition, at one end of the room Sabot Miniatures had a small shop set up to purchase any last-minute needs (brushes, palettes, etc.).
Instruction began promptly at 8am and the plan for the two days was laid out. Day one would focus on the face and day two would focus on the textures of the fabric and the rest of the figure. Jim Rice started with a PowerPoint presentation on color theory and the basics of figure painting. Next, he moved right into the demonstration, with the class following along with a step-by-step workbook that was provided ahead of time.
The next eight hours, save a one-hour lunch break, followed the cadence of Jim performing a couple of steps and then the students would have time to do the same. Jim walks around and provides feedback on each student’s progress. The students themselves ranged from me, who had never even attempted to paint a bust/figure, to MMSI Gold medal winners. This just shows the range that Jim is able to teach to in this class.
Without giving too much away about the class, the second day focused on adding textures to the fabric areas of the bust and rounding out the majority of the other parts of the bust as well. At the completion of the second day, the MMSI show was starting to kick off, in earnest. As the show was starting, many of the students opted to display the in-progress busts in a special area of the show.
A special treat of the show was that all of the aforementioned Shep Paine dioramas were on display. Some had been newly restored, some were in progress, and some were as Shep built them 40 years ago. In addition to these masterpieces the level of artwork on display at the show was nothing short of amazing and inspiring. I chose to bring 8 of my own planes and displayed them in the Ordnance – Painters’ category for the juried exhibition. At the end of the show, I found out that my Tamiya F4F Wildcat took a Bronze medal.
All-in-all, I’m very happy with the experiences I had in the lead up to the show and the show itself. I would highly recommend the Sabot Miniatures Painting Academy classes and would participate in another in a heartbeat (and will). Please enjoy a sampling of some of the in-progress photos from my bust and other works during the show that caught my eye!
Until next time…
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Text and images copyright ©2024 by Mat Mathis
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Text & Images Copyright © 2024 by Mat Mathis
Page Created 8 February, 2024
8 February, 2024
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