This weekend (11 and 12 January 2014) I was lucky enough to attend a painting masterclass with Meg Maples of Arcane Paintworks. Meg has worked for Reaper Miniatures and Privateer Press and has an impressive series of painting awards to her name (but not SSB Best Painted!).
The focus of the class was a techniques called two brush blending. It is not worlds away from my usual style, although it will revolutionise my painting. For 12 months or so I have been using the "push-pull" glazing method, using very thin layers of pigment that is "pushed" and "pulled" around using a lot of water. The two brush blending method, however, speeds this process up considerably, allowing a more opaque colour while still using a similar methodology. I feel I picked up the technique pretty quickly and it will definitely continue to define the way I paint.
I was also let in on a little secret that I wish someone had advised me on earlier - larger, better quality brushes are much much better. Now, the better quality part of this is a no brainer really, but I've always used relatively cheap brushes because, well, cash. But the larger part is a revelation! Meg uses a size 2 and a size 3 (that's 2 and 3, NOT 2 zero and 3 zero). I wouldn't have considered doing this is a million years, but it is actually much better. The brushes hold the paint better and you can effect just as fine detail while retaining a reservoir in the bristles that lasts longer.
Unfortunately the number 2 brush I ended up getting for the weekend was, in a word, crap. It was literally the only size 2 sable brush I could find in Adelaide (I visited five separate places) on short notice and I knew when I bought it that the tip wasn't really forming well. But the 3 was incredible (a Windsor & Newton Series 7). I highly recommend trying to use larger brushes if you don't already.
I picked up all sorts of other hints and tips from Meg, including a black recipe (my eternal bane), a methodology for eyes, a series of metal recipes and many other smaller, almost indefinable, ideas.
So, I guess I should post my work as well. The following photos are of the completed miniature that the class painted. It is a Guild of Harmony piece called Garolph, Blacksmith. It doesn't look like much, but the miniature itself is beautiful. The detail is crisp and the concept simple but full of character. I was able to complete painting the miniature itself during the class. The base was added this evening after I returned home (and was an opportunity for me to practice the two brush blending techniques at my own desk). I considered giving it a much more 'storied' base, but in the end I was happy enough with the cobblestones and I felt I would keep this one simple as an example from the class.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy.
If you are inclined to do such things, the CMON link is here (when it clears) and you can rate it out of 10: