After rediscovering the hobby a few years ago and painting on and off by myself as a way to relax I was slowly beginning to burn out. This was in the beginning of 2016 and in an attempt to revitalize the hobby for me I signing up for a beginners class with Roman Lappat in the early summer of 2016. This class improved my painting skills, sparked my creativity and left me curious to learn more from Roman and thus the basis for a private coaching was born.
After the class, I got in contact with Roman and began to plan for a private coaching. Due to two busy schedules, we ended up on a date in early January 2017 which also left me with some time to prepare and improve what I learned during the beginners class.
We discussed further via email what I wanted to focus on and learn and ended up with the following topics and goals for the coaching:
- Main topic: Understanding atmosphere and learn to paint it
- Side topics on the way: Texture and Metallic Painting
- Subtopic: Focal areas, how can I guide the focus to have the project interesting to the viewer’s eye
Before the coaching I needed to prepare a miniature for the course. The choice ended up on the assassin from Shadow Crafter sculpted by Pedro Fernandez Ramos (in retroperspective maybe a too detailed 30mm figure) and a simple dungeon base. After putting it together it looked like the images below and I sent I to Roman for confirmation.
After that everything was set and all I could do was wait (impatiently) for the coaching to begin.
The Coaching or: how I learned to stop worrying and love to paint
After a few days in Munich (I had stayed there a few days before the coaching) and a long drive to and a night in a hotel in Augsburg where I was the only guest the day of coaching finally came. I arrived at the address of the studio early the next day and followed the “signs” to the studio where I was welcomed by Roman and a much-needed cup of coffee. Even though I had only met Roman once before he really made me feel as I was meeting an old friend and I instantly felt at home in the studio.
After a quick tour of the studio, we sat down and talked about the plan for the course followed by some basic color theory and exercises where I painted a quick color wheel and was tasked with mixing different colors that Roman picked out randomly from a nearby color stand. While this seems like a basic task it was a great way to learn and tune color mixing and theory and something I think everyone should try to do once in a while (simply take a random color from your color range and try to mix it from primaries).
With the basics done we sat down and began our journey into the world of atmospheric painting. Roman talked about how to interpret and look for atmosphere and after this brief theory I was tasked with painting a wolf Roman had a photograph of in two different versions; one as a copy of the image and one in a different atmosphere. A really great way of easing into atmosphere painting and a really fun exercise.
With the paintings and basic theory done it was time for applying it all to miniature painting.
We started with me figuring out the “story” of the scene. I decided on an unknown entry exploring a dungeon in search of someone or something. Roman pushed me to think more about the story, references and the “whats” and “why” of the piece – something I had not done before but for sure something I will do in the future as it added a lot to the piece. Furthermore Roman pushed me to sketch out how I wanted to block in colors and how it would fit into the general atmosphere of the piece – again something I had not done before but a great tool for planning the project and its “focus points”.
It was finally time to begin putting paint on the base and miniature. We started by applying an environment color to the base and miniature and then using that as a basis/addition for everything painted on after – this is something I cannot recommend enough as it brings the miniature together in the end.
While Roman already had pushed my understanding and approach to painting it was after this phase he truly showed how great a teacher he is and how great his philosophy for painting is. He had observed that I was a nervous and worried about doing something wrong and messing up the project – a trait that has been “blocking” my creativity on all previous projects. We talked about it and he asked if I was willing to be pushed even further and out of my comfort zone and I agreed (if to be guided and pushed by Roman then why would I even be there).
Roman wanted to push me out of my comfort zone by having me paint the base with my fingers!!!? This to show that you should not be worried about how you approach the painting and that you just should relax and enjoy the project and painting. I must admit I was quite worried and nervous as I dipped my finger in the turquoise paint to apply it to the miniature – but as soon as I started applying it my worries and nervousness was simply swept away and replaced with pure painting joy! I rediscovered the free and fun feeling I had when I first started painting – and that with practice, theory and time had been replaced by pressure and fear of failing. Already here – still on the first day – Roman had changed my mindset about how to paint and given me something I would never have rediscovered on my own.
After fingerpainting the base we started on the miniature itself using the previous theory. With the basics of the base and miniature the first day of the coaching came to an end.
The next day was all about putting the learned theory into practice and getting comfortable with Romans approach while refining, tinting and putting it all together. Especially Romans approach to tinting and improving definition was a true eyeopener for me.
Roman was simply great at guiding and observing what I did and with short explanations and tips push me beyond the limits of what I thought was possible to do. Never would I have thought it would be possible to learn so much in such a short amount of time.
As the second day came to a close – and even though Roman had said I should not expect to finish the piece – I sat with a finished piece that embodied all I had learned over the two days of coaching.
Reflecting back on the coaching it is clear that it enriched my painting, boosted my creativity and learned me to stop worring and love to paint again.
Thanks to Roman Lappat for two amazing days in the Massive Vodoo studio.
Disclaimer: This is not a straight forward review of my private coaching with Roman Lappat. I personally don’t think you can review a private coaching as it is a highly individual experience. If anyone is thinking about getting private coaching I can only recommend trying it out themselves.