2016 Miniature Figures Ottawa Gatineau Show Report
First, a little disclaimer. I have a medium headache and I took no pictures at the event so this won’t be the greatest show report. Yesterday I attended the 2016 Miniature Figures Ottawa Gatineau show. They could really use an official website so I’m not sure what the history of the event it. I know they had a show last year and it wasn’t their first. I mistook which day the show was on and missed it last year. This year I was determined not to make the same mistake.
The show uses an interesting Open Format which I haven’t seen before. Instead of being a painting competition with 1st, 2nd, 3rd prizes in various categories the show looks at a participant’s miniatures and assigns them an absolute, although still subjective, value. There was a Best of Show and Best Knight Models miniature award, plus the judges ran a separate competition among themselves where show attendees where given a vote.
I like this format because it is easy for a small regional competition to be dominated by a single painter. Any community that has even two painters legitimately competing for the top spot is extremely blessed and even then it can be very discouraging for those painters who aren’t at the same level. Painters are essentially competing against themselves and I spoke to a number of participants who were looking to beat their previous year’s result. The environment becomes more of a community coming together to share knowledge and techniques and chat with fellow painters.
Entrants can present as many miniatures as they would like. Judges pick what they believe to be the strongest and award it a level, either no mention, Merit, Bronze, Silver or Gold. It is possible, it happened in 2015, for there to be no Golds awards.
I displayed all of my painting Batman Miniature Game and Infinity miniatures but only entered the above figures. Originally I was only going to display these figures but I was encouraged to put them all out. The idea of the show is for people to display their work and having more miniatures out gives people more to look at.
When I painted my BMG miniatures I had decided to paint them to the best of my ability with one caveat: they were still wargame figures so I wasn’t going to redo areas where I made mistakes or kill myself fixing casting flaws. Basically I spent a day on each main area but wouldn’t repaint finished areas or keep working them endlessly. In this way they are not true “competition” miniatures.
So, how did I do? I won Gold but not Best in Show or Best Knight Models miniature. In my opinion, and there is 100% a level of conceit in this statement, I can paint better than the winner of either award. Although, I must admit, I technically haven’t, yet. The same can likely be said of Guillaume Juneau, winner of Best in Show, or Justin Rae, winner of Best Knight Model. However, and I don’t think I’m delusional, there are parts of my miniatures which are better than any part of either painter’s entry. There are also parts of my miniature which are far, far below. By the time I’ve reached the boots of any miniature I am ready to move on to the next and I tend to rush. It is absolutely correct for the judges to notice such a small detail so I am not disappointed with my results. Next year, however, I will contribute some miniatures which are painted to a competition level. It’s good to stretch yourself from time to time, especially since I feel the need to prove to myself that I am not being an egomaniac when I look at other people’s miniatures and say “I can do better.”
In addition to the miniatures on display from the participants and judges the day also featured a painting lecture by Justin Rae and a speed painting contest. I enjoyed the lecture but declined the speed painting. I enjoy the challenge but this was one of those “for fun” competitions where painters are provided with terrible brushes, half-dry paint and a limited selection. I’ve done both a contest where I was able to provide my own materials and one in a similar vein and I much prefer one where the challenge is to see what can be accomplished in an hour instead of an exhibition of schadenfreude. Not that I didn’t enjoy watching the mayhem.
Feedback For Next Year
The day was well organized, well run and enjoyed by all who attended. Without any changes I’d be happy to attend each year and would even like to see the frequency of the event increased. There is something wonderful about being able to talk to like-minded people about our mutual love of painting miniatures. That said there are a few things I’d like to see in future events.
Each entrant was given a vote for Best in Show Judges miniatures which allowed the judges to show off their work without damaging the integrity of the main event. I like this but would also like to see a similar vote open to all visitors for best model in show. I don’t think there needs to be a big award for the winner but I think it would give visitors a reason to look closer at the miniatures on display.
Slightly Improved Awards
Awards are not the real focus of the main event. Sharing your work with your peers is the main draw. However there are certificates given out for each level achieved and I would like them to be slightly improved. My Gold Certificate is an image of an orc bitting a gold coin on cardstock. At the very least I think the event title, date and award achieved could be written, although I’d also love to see the competitor’s name and entered model written in.
I have a feeling that there was one painting seminar because Mr. Rae either offered or is known to give them. I believe I attended one of his seminars at the first Batman Day. However I’d really love for there to be more, I’d even give one. Even a Q&A from some of the better artists would be good if they don’t feel up to teaching. Sometimes just watching people paint can unlock secrets impossible to describe in words.
Looking Forward to Next Year
In the end I was very happy I attended. I owe my attendance to Martin Laliberté, who encouraged me to participate and provided advice for best displaying my miniatures. I’m really looking forward to attending again and hope that this time of miniature show becomes more common.
Leave a comment if you’ve ever participated in a miniature painting event and what you thought of it. Also, let me know if you look at someone’s miniature and think: I can do that, or do you get discouraged.