today I am happy to present you an article by a guest author.
Means I got asked if MV want to publish it, even the author is not part of the regular and active MV-Team. Of course I said yes as this article is beautifully connected to last year’s MV Challenge 2018.
The author of this article is Christoph
from Germany, a well known, good guy for the MV-Team who also took part in many seminars with the monkeys. Thank you, Christoph for your time and effort in writing this up. Our task is only to put it to the blog, doing the format and adding the photos. The rest of the praise is yours for your wonderful project you created!
So, from here on you can read Christoph’s words and thoughts.
I am sure you will enjoy them…
Of Puffins and Penguins
This will be a short trip through the thoughts and ideas I had when I was planning my entry
for the 2018 MV challenge as well as a small step by step on how it was executed.
When the MV challenge was announced last summer, I had some mixed emotions about it.
Among the first where “I love puffins” and “I must have the penguin picture Roman made”.
Of course, then the whole “I’m not good enough to win anything” complex surfaced. At that point
I was very happy about Petra’s post from earlier last year about the imposter syndrome. I
cheerfully started planning my puffin entry.
And of course, I remembered the MV article about
not participating in competitions. The irony made me smile at the time. But I would learn
about the difference between competitions and challenges later …
I’ve always been a big fan of puffins.
For some years now, my cousin and his wife live and
work in Scotland. When we visit (and the weather allows) we usually make a trip to the Isle of
May where you can see huge numbers of puffins. I was able to take a nice picture of a puffin
which I still love to show off with. Zoom in to look the fishes in the eye.
I started thinking about what story I’d like to tell.
Perhaps a sad story of a puffin waiting for the partner to return. To me they always look a bit sad. Or should I make a happy breeding couple of puffins? Since I didn’t find any suitable minis for my ideas, I was starting to think about sculpting the myself. But then it dawned on me that puffins might not be penguins.
I asked Roman and it turned out that puffins and penguins are completely unrelated. There
even is a scientific term for this – convergent evolution. On the one hand I was happy that I
wasn’t the only one having made this mistake on the other hand this pretty much killed my
steam for making an entry because it couldn’t be puffins.
Fast forward a few months to Scale Model Challenge
Kyle had a nice booth with many great new minis. While buying some, the penguin caught
my eye and I thought, well they are cute and bought the pair anyway. I like penguins after all,
just not as much as puffins. I also made another purchase at SMC which would come in
handy, a second round base. I needed one for another project and couldn’t decide which of
the two I’d want to use.
The following weekend I was in Augsburg for Banshee’s Color Theory Class which was
awesome. One of the new things I learned about were inks. I’d had been aware before that
they existed but never had a good understanding on how to use them. Alfonso changed that.
After Alfonso’s class I spend a few days at the house of my grandparent in a small town in
Franconia. Of course, the first thing I did Monday morning was trying to get my hands on
some inks to properly start painting Romain’s Manta. So much for the best laid plans of mice
None of the arts and crafts or stationary shops had any acrylic inks but I ran across a
selection of Fimo blocks. I got one and thought about sculpting a puffin. Of course Daniele
had just joined MV and his post on sculpting was very inspiring. Especially how he made the
wooden mask spoke to me and I had the feeling that this might be the way for the puffin
I rolled out some Fimo on a piece of backing paper and started dabbling away. Quite
surprisingly to me a few minutes later I had a pair of nice puffin feet and put them in the oven
I spend the rest of the afternoon making my first sculpt. Thankfully the puffin doesn’t have a
very complex shape.
All of a sudden, the MV challenge was back on for me! I started thinking about how my puffin
would interact with the penguin to make an entry that would be accepted by the MV
challenge. (At that time, I didn’t realize it yet but this project would pose a big number of
challenges to me and the difference between challenge and competition would soon become
Edit by Roman:
I want to show you Christoph himself now … it would be sad not having a face behind such beautiful words!
Christoph in absolute Zen-Painting during Alfonso’s color theory class in Augsburg in 2018
I had was a penguin club and the bouncer penguin would not let the puffin enter.
Or should I go for a mirror with a puffin reflected as a penguin? Should I involve Darwin?
In the end I chose the idea of a globe with a puffin and a penguin being very far away from
each other showing the concept of convergent evolution.
The next task was giving it a name. It is “brother from another mother” now but working titles
includes “to penguin or to puffin”, “same same but different” and “oh brother where art thou?”.
The back and forth was going on for some time but I guess in the end the title wasn’t really
How do I get a globe?
You can buy small sized globes and I was thinking about getting one
and repainting it. Doing this the globe would have a perfect sketch of earth already.
Unfortunately, none of the globes I found really looked the way I’d have wanted.
I’d have to “scratch build” it. Back to the crafts shop to get a sphere. I settled for an 8 cm ~ 3-
inch Styrofoam ball. I soon found out that this wasn’t a good idea. I had thought a thick layer
of paint would close the holes on the surface and give me a smooth ball….
Well, we learn from our mistakes. I went back to the crafts store (I’m really happy that they
still exist, otherwise the whole project would not have happened) and bought a similar sized
wooded sphere and a rod to fix the sphere to the base. Then I started thinking how I’d be
able to get a nice globe on that ball. I started looking for all kinds of pictures but couldn’t find
anything fitting my needs. I postponed the globe till we got back home.
Instead I painted the puffin.
At that time, I started getting a bit nervous about my timeline.
I’d have another two days of vacation before I’d go on a nine-day business trip to the US. After returning I’d have a nice jetlag and around 30 hours to finish the project and email the pics to Roman. Panic with capital P. But only for a short time.
I came up with a plan to get a rough grid of longitudes and latitudes on the sphere and use
them and a globe to get a rough sketch of the continents and island on my sphere. A
compass really helped my get my lines on the globe. Getting the outlines of the landmasses
wasn’t very easy but at least it’s recognizable which planet is shown. I’m very sorry if the
home of anyone should not be depicted properly.
I took the globe and a small painting set with me on the trip to finish it. The trip was quite
busy with work and dinners. Still I try to get up around 3 in the morning. Most of the time it
helps me keep my jetlag to a minimum. I had some time to work on the globe while traveling
after all. You might notice the blob of milliput in the north Atlantic. This gave me some
trouble. The wood sphere had a hole drilled all the way through. I patched this up with
milliput before I primed the whole thing. When I painted the globe, I found that had left too
much of a hump in the ocean so I carefully sanded it down. This left me with an area of raw
milliput which would not take on paint. Fortunately, I was able to overcome this with a few
thick layers of ultra matt varnish and a hair dryer.
Roman often has a beautiful sunrise pic somewhere in his post, so I thought I’d copy that 🙂
Sunrise on a plane usually is awesome.
After getting home I mainly had the penguin left.
Fortunately, was able to sleep a bit on theplane back so I jumped at painting the penguin directly after coming home. When I started writing on the base the color would just form little droplets. I sanded of the old finish and put some ultra matt varnish on.
Yeah finished just in time, or did I?
The photos were still missing. Well no biggy. After wrestling with my camera and RAW files
for an hour I decided that there will be another time to fully understand these and shot the
finished piece with my cell phone.
While numbering the photos I just realized that I didn’t have any pics showing the
Asia/Pacific/Antarctica regions properly. Quickly shot some more pics. As was to be
expected they are not as good as the original entry picks due to rushing things.
And off the pics go to Roman.
Now the waiting for the other entries and the time forcontemplation starts.
What did this challenge mean to me?
That I challenged myself to get out of my comfort zone and do new things. So far, my biggest “sculpt” had been cutting of one blade from a weapon and gluing on a different one. Now I have made a whole bird.
Of course, there’s still a way to go from there. But I won’t be so intimidated by the prospect any more.The situation for free hands is quite similar, so far this had been something I’ve been actively
avoiding. Now I painted the whole earth. Next stop will be the stars.
And last but not least, writing texts has also not been one of my favorite tasks so far.
A mere competition is just about having the best mini (however that would be defined) while
this challenge has helped me grow as a painter and I’m very thankful to Roman and Josua