A Journey in Making the Perfect Painting Space
In July of 2019 I moved to the Maryland--D.C. area from Norfolk, VA with my partner, Josh, who had recently been accepted to the University of Maryland for a Master's degree. I had started looking for a new place of work well before our move, and Labyrinth really caught my eye (I mean obviously). I felt super excited getting to interview and then getting offered a position, and everything was looking a lot more doable. My partner and I had gotten into board games a year before we moved, starting with Boss Monster and Azul and ending up with a lot of Warhammer Underworlds miniatures and Blood Rage. We love games with gorgeous miniatures a lot. So when I started working at Labyrinth, it really opened my eyes to a lot of new hobbies concomitant with our board game hobby, including painting!
Our apartment in Norfolk was an 800 square foot two-bedroom; however, given Maryland's average rent, we've downsized to a one bedroom apartment roughly half the size of our last place and we've had to come up with creative solutions to space problems. When Josh and I decided to start painting our miniatures, I brought home some Vallejo Game Colors, a Dungeons & Dragons Adventurer Paint Set, and black and white Army Painter spray primers all of which I'd bought from the store. Also we invested in some tool kits for removing our Warhammer miniatures from the sprues they are set in; those same tools also turned out to be great for cleaning up mold lines on the miniatures. Josh initially used the Army Painter primers and the D&D kit to paint the minis featured below, and then, after some research, we ordered Citadel Paints' Nuln-Oil and Agrax Earthshade, which are super helpful for making beginning paint jobs look more polished once the prime coat and base coats are done. As our hobby evolved, we kept having to reconfigure the space in which we were practicing it.
We had a large kitchen island left over from our last place that was nice, but wasn't going to fit in the kitchen in our new place, so we decided initially to set it up in the living room corner as a breakfast/coffee bar, but once we started painting, the hobby took over the whole surface. Over time we have found new ways to re-imagine the space to be more and more comfortable for us both to sit down and paint side-by-side. For instance we realized, after we began collecting new colors for different models, that we didn't really have space for all the paint bottles and wells to sit loose on the counter top, so we ordered some inexpensive metal shelves and command hooks and set them on the wall right next to the station.
The kitchen cart we are using also has shelves under the counter, but the counter is constructed in such a way that, for the overhanging counter to be facing outwards in the corner where we have it, we have to have the shelves face the wall. However, I realized the other day that I could remove the thin wooden panels from the back of the cart to reopen the shelf space. It has since cleared the space even more, so that we now can both comfortably fit at the counter while painting.
We also have found the purchase of painting handles helps immensely with getting detail work done on the minis, though, as you can see below, I could still use more practice. Though in all fairness, these two are still in progress, and I am excited to get better with each mini on which I work.
Josh, who has been painting more voraciously than me, has improved remarkably through repeated practice, and has several really polished looking minis. In the picture below, you can see one of the first miniatures he painted on the left and on the right is one of his most recent. There is a huge difference between his early paint work and the clarity of his latest minis and I am working on getting to the same level. I think part of the fun of this hobby is discovering new paint types from more learned painters and new methods through trial and error.
We have also found a good set up for our palette and our paint brushes, using some inexpensive baskets and a tupperware dish.
We've really come to enjoy painting as individuals but also as a couple, and the aesthetically pleasing set up we have managed to create for our paint station has helped immensely. Ever since I began working at Labyrinth my love for board games has only deepened, especially as I have become acquainted with our vibrant community. The experience has been and is a huge boon. I even picked up a renewed passion for tabletop RPGs, which I hadn't been able to play in a long time, since the community didn't exist where we lived previously. Now I am DM'ing for our Kids' D&D sessions, and I am having a blast getting back into it and delving into the Forgotten Realms once again. My next project is to paint my own D&D character--a Yuan Ti Pureblood Warlock with high intelligence and very low wisdom (much like me). It's a good thing I've got the perfect set up to do just that.
What's your experience with painting been like and how do you like to configure your workspace? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to keep an eye out for our next blog post this Friday at 10am!