Adepticon 2017 views from a first-time attendee – Chris Suhre

PRELUDE

Hello everyone, my name is Chris Suhre, and this was my first time attending Adepticon. I just wanted to take a few moments of your time to relate my experiences attending Adepticon and the Crystal Brush competition for the first time.

Why did I chose to attend Adepticon? As a miniature painter, I wanted to immerse myself in the work of other painters. To see their creations one on one and have the chance to share ideas and learn. I also wanted the opportunity to reconnect with painter friends I already knew. Finally, I also wanted the opportunity to display my own work. To try and show my ideas and visions. So after Gencon 2016, I made the decision to attend Adepticon and began working on an assortment of pieces.

EARLY START AND A WORKSHOP OR TWO

Anthony, myself and James

I left for Adepticon on Friday after kissing my wife good bye and getting the kids on the bus. It was a slight drive up to Chicago but I managed to arrive by early afternoon. I was fortunate enough to have a room at the Renaissance and checked in with ease. I wanted to get my competition pieces entered as soon as possible fearing I might make a mistake and miss the deadline. The wait to get my Adepticon badge was very short and so within minutes I was already in the hall and at the CMON booth.

The crystal brush case was simply awe inspiring. To be honest I don’t know how European competitions compare but I doubt there’s anywhere in the US where you can see so many high-quality pieces in a single area. After dropping off my entries I took time to look through the cases. So many stunning pieces. My head began to fill with ideas for future projects and I had only been here for maybe an hour.

I headed back to the painting lounge to meet up with my friends Seth, Dallas, Kat, and Nick. Hugs were exchanged and we began discussing all the projects we had been working on and those that inspired us in the case. Kat and I had the same first class with Russo on atmosphere. To be honest I was expecting something a bit different but the class was still informative and Russo was a great teacher.

He was easy to understand and took the time to go around to each student multiple times to review our progress. Soon after the first class I began my second class with Russo on colour variations. He walked us through how he selected hues that could be manipulated from warm to cold and across the colour wheel. For instance, taking a yellow green cloth and manipulating it to a violet thanks to the common blue hue within both colours.

my pieces alongside those of Komets, Farabi, Palacios, Picca and Kontraros

TIME FOR SOME SOCIALISING

After class, Seth took myself and our friends out for Chicago style pizza at Giordano’s. The food was great. I’ve never really had the thick Chicago style pizza but now I see why people rave about it. Even though the food was great it was the company that made the night special. We finished the night off with beers at a local beer market while we made wild predictions about who would win the crystal brush overall.

After having spent the previous night up late talking painting with friends, I awoke Saturday morning excited to see what the day would bring. After grabbing some breakfast, I went off to the vendor hall with some friends. Now, I have little experience with a variety cons. For the most part I’ve attended Warmachine weekend and Gencon on a yearly basis but that’s about it. I found the vendor hall at Adepticon to be just about right. A nice selection of vendors focused on miniature games and miniature painting but without the seas of people I so often encounter at Gencon.

Myself and a few friends also went back to peruse the Crystal Brush case and discuss the entries again. While looking at the entries I got to meet Ben Komets and Raffaele Picca for the first time. These are two artists I admire immensely. Since I started trying to up my painting game years ago, these are two artists I have followed intently. Massive voodoo and Ben have made huge impacts on my development as an artist.

The chance to meet them, shake their hands, and tell them what their work has meant to me was great. On top of that they both inspected my entries and told me how they enjoyed the Dragon piece. Words like that from artists I admire, well that just made my day. Little did I know the day was going to get even better.

ADMIRING THE CABINETS AND TIME FOR ANOTHER MASTERCLASS

my masterclass notes!

The rest of the morning was filled with hanging out with fellow painters in the painting lounge. We discussed techniques, various miniature, and paints. We also discussed Dallas’s theory that everything is 50/50. (either something is or it isn’t, do or do not, hence everything is 50/50.)

To be surrounded by so many artists, to be exposed to so many different techniques and views, is amazing. In the mid-afternoon, we found out that the pictures of the entries that made first cut were up. It was so exciting to see two of my pieces on there! To see them in the same categories and among artists that I admired wow! But what was even better was seeing so many of my friends also qualify. In particular, seeing my buddy Seth qualify. He had pushed himself so much over the last few months and to see him make it through with his Zelda piece was phenomenal. The next couple of hours were just spent looking at all these gorgeous entries. Going over them with friends. Telling stories about the ups and down’s we had with creating our works of art.

In the early evening, I got to start my class with Sergio and Jose. It was a Master Class on a Black Sailor Miniature. It was great! Jose walked us through how Sergio approaches the most important part of a mini, the face. Before starting the face, Jose went over how to approach the lighting by using illustrations to break the area down into smaller more manageable parts. Sergio often starts at the first shade and works his way up using small dots and lines of the highlights to bring out the features. They discussed their approach to eyes and where they typically place their highest highlights due to facial anatomy. We then also discussed using glazes to tie the entire project together. I do not consider myself to be a speedy painter by any means. However, at the end of our 2-hour class I had a pretty decent face for my black sailor miniature. A result I was extremely happy with.

rethinking the colour wheel

I pretty much went straight from Sergio’s class to Raffaele Picca’s: Rethinking the Colour Wheel class. Raffa provided us with booklet of the information he was going to cover and had a presentation all set up. We spent the next 3 hours covering the basics of colour theory, temperature, Gamut, etc. By no means would I consider myself an expert in colour theory but I wouldn’t say I’m a novice either. I found the class to be fantastic. Raffa walked us through composing our own colour wheels. Then we spent time discussing how to go from one hue to another, about saturation, and value. Raffa even came up with visuals for use on how to perceive the colour wheel. We then spent time mixing hues to create our own skin tone using just primaries.

We then repeated the exercise mixing various out of pot hues using only the primaries. I know Raffa has plans to teach this class in the future at other conventions. I cannot encourage you enough to take the opportunity if it arises. Not to mention Raffa’s English is very easy to understand and he’s just an awesome guy too.

That pretty much finished off my second day at Adepticon. The day had been so fun and jam packed that I hadn’t eaten since breakfast so I went up to the hotel bar at 1145 and grabbed a nice burger and fries before heading off to bed with a million ideas swirling in my head.

THE FINAL DAY BRINGS A GREAT HONOUR

My CB 2017 Bronze winning dio

Those swirling ideas in my head, kept me up for the next 2 hours while I sketched out ideas for new projects in my note book. So, I awoke a bit late on Sunday morning. Grabbed some breakfast at the hotel and went back to check out the vendor hall for any last-minute deals. I returned to the Crystal brush case to inspect all the gorgeous artwork one last time before collecting my entries.

I then sat down with Jen Haley and James Craig for some valuable insight and critique on my entries. Points and ideas, I most certainly plan on applying to future projects. Afterwards it was back to the painting lounge to hang out with friends before the award ceremony. I managed to talk with Caleb of CK studios for a while and acquire a couple of gorgeous plinths from him. If you need display quality plinths in the US, you should check them out. It’s a piece of art to display your Art on.

At 3 pm we headed up to the conference room for the award ceremony. No in truth, I hadn’t been nervous all weekend. I had accomplished the goals I set for myself. To reunite with old friends, to make new friends, to qualify for day 2, and to learn and be inspired. But as we sat down I did feel a bit nervous about the outcome. The award ceremony started. It was great to see young Alex Drescher win the Young talent competition. That kid has some skills.

one of Kat’s gold winning entries

I got to watch my friend Kat win gold, not only for the sci fi single but also the fantasy single with 2 inspiring pieces. I then got to watch Matt DiPetro secure the gold in bust. Matt has been a mentor to me since the days I first started painting Privateer models.

It was great to see him achieve this lofty goal he set for himself. I’m pretty sure Jen deliberately tortured me by making diorama almost the last category to be announced. She stated that diorama was a very difficult category and then I saw my piece appear on the projector screen. I was in shock and awe. I never really thought it possible.

After I said my congrats and goodbyes to various friends, before beginning the drive home. I got home late that evening. Hugged my kids. Kissed my wife. And reflected on what was a truly epic weekend. As a first time Adepticon attendee I can only say wow. What an amazing experience. If you haven’t been there, you should.

the overall winner of CB 2017 – Spacewolf by Palacios and Calvo Rubio

Thanks for reading my thoughts on the event and a thankyou to Jay for inviting me to write for figurementors. Stay tuned as I am now in the process of writing an article about my dragon piece for this very site. see you soon!

Comments

  1. Chris Mac

    What a great writeup! The whole tone of it is full of fun and excitement and makes me really want to go even more now! Congratulations!

  2. SDub

    What a great experience you had! I’ve been going to Adepticon for the past 3 years and I think you did it right and I’ve been doing it wrong. I feel that my shyness is ruining the experience for me. I don’t know how to break into a new friend group of people and have great discussions with people like you had. I need to figure out some social skills!

  3. James Craig

    Wonderful write up from a fantastic painter and friend. I’ve been telling people for a couple of years now that you and kat are the painters to watch and to help move this hobby in the future. Keep it up man!
    ~James

  4. Devon Maher

    Awesome to see you my friend, i am sad we did not get to spend more time talking about paint.

  5. Christopher Lofts

    First, let me say thank you for such a nice article about your first time to Adepticon. I really enjoyed it for many reasons, but more so, I think I’m just amazed at how the event has progressed so much over the years.

    You see, I was once a member of a group of Games Workshop fans who decided to form a gaming club called “Adeptus Basementus.” This group was comprised of members from Kansas City, Chicago, and various parts of the St. Louis metro area. At the the time Games Workshop sanctioned several tournaments all across the U.S called “Grand Tournaments,” the most popular of which took place in Chicago. These tournaments were very exclusive, and there were usually only 80-100 slots available, making it very difficult just to get in. The only way you could have a good chance of obtaining a slot was to submit your application, your army list, and entry fee as quickly as possible. This was done by mailing it all via overnight airmail, and even then, there was still a chance you might not make the cut. It was at these a Grand Tournaments where most us met one another and built long lasting friendships.

    After one year, Adeptus Basementus was almost an instant success having sponsored and run several Warhammer 40k tournaments, and once we realized that we could actually run events such as these, we started kicking around the idea of a convention. A convention for fans of all things GW related. A convention by gamers, for gamers. One where attendees could relax, and have fun gaming all weekend long. Playing all kinds of GW games, whether it be WH40K, Fantasy, or even several of the “Specialist” games like Blood Bowl, Necromunda, and Battlefleet Gothic to name a few. We also of course wanted to run a few tournaments which included what at the time was a very new concept to the tournament scene, the “Team Tournament.”

    Originally, plans were in the works to have the first Adepticon in St. Louis, but it was later changed to Chicago, as the gaming community in Chicago was much larger, and since many of the participants were likely going to be players who were used to traveling to Chicago for such an event, it only made sense to have it there.

    So with the help of several Adeptus Basementus members from St. Louis, and Kansas City, including myself, the first Adepticon took place in 2002. The following year due to the major success it became, the group from Chicago, most notably Mathias Weeks and Jeff Chua took over, and became the backbone of Adepticon, and it is because of them the convention has grown exponentially over the years. I look back on those years with fond memories of amazing games, awesome armies/miniatures, and just good times all around.

    So when I see an article such as this, knowing that I had a part, however small it may have been, in Adepticons creation, it makes me smile every time. It just goes to show you what a small group of guys with a vision can do.

    Be that as it may, I had a chance to view your work Chris, and you are an awesome painter! Thanks for sharing your experience, and your work.

    P.S. Just FYI, the painting competition was originally called the “Rogue Demon,” but I guess as it grew over the years, and they started to get more than just WH40K, and Fantasy gamers entering their pieces into the competition they decided to change it.

    1. Author
      Redrum

      Hi Christopher, wow what a great insight into the humble beginnings of Adepticon. Thanks for taking the time to read Chris’ article, we hope you enjoy the site, thanks again!

  6. Chris Barrett

    Christopher

    Thanks for the nice article . I’m not a gamer but a painter. This sounds like it would be fun to attend. I usually make the trip to Chicago for the Figure show in October put on by MMSI . The have added a new category for the show for Fantasy pieces . We are seeing more historical figure painters dipping their toes in the fantasy figure painter water. The dragon piece is really nice love the colors. That one part I struggle with color combinations.

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