In years of attending wargaming conventions in the Midwest when I was involved in HMGS-Great Lakes and more recently here in Pennsylvania and Maryland with HMGS-East, I have seen hundreds of painted armies – mostly average to very good, some poor, and a few spectacular. And, there has been the occasional unpainted or spray painted monochrome armies from gamers that had not yet had the time to finish their figures. I’ve seen guys (and the occasional girl) with carefully shadowed and highlighted paint job on their figures, and I came away impressed and challenged to bump up my own skills.
In browsing the flea markets and dealer halls, I have also noted a wide variety of styles and qualities to their painted armies, even from “professional painters.” The same has been true of armies I have purchased from eBay or Bartertown. At times, I have been disappointed by these “pros” when I bought sight unseen from Internet sellers. Other times, the figures were much better than advertised.
A few years ago, after eye surgery (detached retina followed by a cataract), I basically retired from painting 15mm figures. I invested some money obtained from selling older armies I had bought through the Internet in some premium painted 15mm figures from West Virginia painter Larry Reber, owner of Gettysburgsoldiers.com. I may be biased, but I have owned figures from dozens of painters, including some of the better known pros, and I think Larry’s work is simply the finest painted 15mm figures on the market today, especially his custom work. He’s terrific, and when I have his figures on the tabletop, folks take notice. My painting is OK; his is light years ahead.
Recently, I started admiring Andy MacDonald-Rice’s work on the Internet through his photo gallery, and I think he’s one of the most talented painters I have seen for larger scale figures. He is writing a series for the Charge! hard copy newsletter on how to improve your painting. Watch for it!
So, who do you consider to be the best commercial painters on the market today? Everyone has their favorite professional – who is yours and why?