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  • Steve The Novice

Whats In a Name? And how do we measure our ability?

When thinking about setting up a site to record my progress in the miniature painting hobby, I spent a bit of time thinking about how I wanted to present myself. I had been painting for around a year when I set up the site, and referenced my progress against the very best painters in the world. My clumsy attempts to even base coat something felt a very long way away from the nuanced blends, advanced colour theory and the life they could breath into their models.


Here are some early paintjobs I did...

And here is Sergio Calvo's recent Instagram...

So this is where my mind was when choosing the name. I know it isn't strictly healthy to compare yourself to professional painters, but I also think it is important to be able to honestly gauge your ability. Now the reason I mention this, is that obviously over time, my painting ability has improved, as I increase my knowledge, the techniques I can apply, and most importantly, put in the time painting models. Recently, I posted some pics somewhere on social media, and was told 'You clearly aren't a novice though are you?'. This raised two elements for me, that I wanted to think about out loud. Firstly, that I use the monicker of 'the novice' because that is how I feel about the hobby. There are a great many things I still don't understand, techniques I haven't tried, and standards that I can't even comprehend in this hobby. If we take Golden Demon Winners, and true artists like Sergio Calvo as being the masters of the craft, we can see a spectrum from beginner to Master, and I believe I am a lot closer to the beginner bit, than the other. Perhaps Novice is underselling myself a bit, even at the time I registered my URL, but it rolls a lot nicer than 'Steve The Amateur', and it is less misleading than 'Steve The Apprentice/Student' etc. Secondly, the problem with taking on a monicker that applies to a fixed moment in time is always going to time out eventually, and become less relevant if I continue to progress. So unless I am planning to change my nickname and URL every year or two to match my progress, I need to make peace with the fact that the 'Novice' part will be more self branding than self descriptive. This is my best work so far, and I am happy to say I consider this an intermediate level paint job, which I think has psychologically acted as a gateway to my accepting I have progressed.

The TLDR of this is, I am not changing my online name/url etc, even though I do think I have progressed past novice at this stage. I still see myself as very early in this painting journey, and if nothing else, 'The Novice' keeps me honest and reminds me that I need to keep learning and developing, and not become comfortable with a certain standard. Its been a fun journey so far, and we are just getting started.

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