Thanks to Lab-54 Painting Club, we had the pleaure to attend a workshop with one of the most influential painter of this generation: Michal Pisarski!
This article was written by two hands: “L” and “P” . Both attended Michal’s workshop!
Michal became famous for his artistic approach to NMM (Not Metal Metal), winning a demon in Golden Demon 2017 competition and a second place in Crystal Brush 2017 with his interpretation of Nagash by Games Workshop, titled “The Tribute”.
When we knew he was coming toRome, we rushed to get a seat. Available places ended in few minutes.
Two days of workshop, splitted in two parts: first half day working on a female face, and other day and half about his “Not-Metal-Metal” technique (“NMM” consists in simulating metal using non metal colours).
We worked on Joan of Arc bust by Fer Miniatures, a good choice for both techniques, specially NMM.
One of most important Michal’s advices was about choice of miniature where to apply NMM. Not all miniatures are suited for this way of represent metal reflexes, we have to study surfaces and learn to find best ones that could help the painting phase.
According to me, also measure counts. The bigger the miniature, the higher could be the difficulties in creating reflexes.
This course was an easy choice. The topic is complex and it’s certainly something difficult to learn alone. There was no doubt that Michal is probably one of the top painters at the moment. The choice of the model is nice. I had already painted Joan before and it’s a nice piece.
Giulio Martirano was very kind and prepared the models for us. The Lab-54 is always well organized for these events.
First part, about painting female skin, was quite simple to follow, he used a lot of airbrush to speed up the work and to create blended and smooth skin sensation. Most interesting step in this process was the way he pushed lights: he used pure white to give highest light, balancing it with glazes of skin. In this way he maintains high luminosity on top part of the face, without losing coherence with darker parts. I saw few painters use pure white, specially on skins, so this technique amazed me a lot.
One of his advices on light is to avoid use of simple zenithal light, in favor of sideward one.
Second part was all about NMM. He explained his way of work this technique, showing a lot of step-by-step photos of his past works. He uses only two colors to create most of structure of his paintings: black and white.
He works paying attention to his colours’ finish too. He use predominantly matt colours, using opacity to avoid unwanted light reflexes from ambience, so he can create his “custom” reflexes, drawing them on the miniature. He uses also little touches of both satin and gloss white to enhance brilliance and reflections in highlighted areas.
To create the shapes of reflexes, he prefers a black primer surface to start with. On top of this he works creating shapes, using scales of grey. He works making an irregular sketch, to obtain an used, battered steel, quite different from a chromed, mirror-like, metal. According to me this approach could be more simple than a chromed one, where you have to paint “free-hand”a whole mirrored simulated environment.
Working with sketch also helps to build an irregular texture that will remain visible after all subsequent process of glazing and coloring.
Every painter has his own way of making skin. I think this morning was very relaxing. Michal’s method is quite simple, he likes to have a high level of lights and strong contrasts with the shadows .
At this stage I made skin according to my taste and I have to say I was satisfied.
Non-metal metal was very complex.
Unlike how the sketch is intended, normally is a track for the next painting phase, in this case it is an essential part of painting. The sketch is not covered, the sketch is the painting. Michal is really good at explaining and making people understand how to think.
The way he paints is very simple, natural. It is very particular that he does not waste a lot of time on the first phase brush strokes but then the work becomes very precise and of patience. Michal has a crazy brush control, perhaps the best I’ve ever seen.
This phase is very intuitive, so I must say that I found myself a little lost. Surely it takes precision and a lot of focus.
This creation of reflexes is the most creative part of his technique, because you have to imagine what could be around the figure and create abstract forms, lines and shapes to give an illusion of blurred mirrored environment. It’s also the most difficult part, that requires references,studies and observation.
After all reflexes is time to apply some colors to give a touch of realism. Michal, in his example, worked a lot with color glazes, using greens and browns. Those colors represent environment around painted subject, because all metal surfaces (more or less) reflect other objects placed near them. Joan of Arc could be located near a group of trees or rocks, so this is a good reason to put different colors, like green or brown along painted metal stripes.
He adviced us to use all colours that we can imagine, because environments could be different and various.
I didn’t undesrtand very well Michal’s point of view for this part, because, according to me, he put these colours without a sense of reality. For example, higher parts should have blue reflexes because of mirroring sky, but Michal used orange.
Michal has a great artist eye and a lot of experience, so his works give a rich metal feeling despite of reality.
In my future practice, I’ll try colors respecting ambient coherence.
At the end of workshop we had all a bust with a part of armour decorated with this technique, with great satisfaction.
Michal is good teacher, calm and helpful. He gave us a lot of advices, with examples photos and live sessions.
He painted same bust with us so we can compare his work with our works. Having a trace is fundamental!
We have learned a lot of informations useful on managing lights and contrasts apart from NMM, that’s always useful.
This technique is surprisingly simple to understand and also seems really fun to me!
There are two counterparts to consider:
- 1- it involves a lot of time in painting, because all reflexes are, pratically, random free-hand patterns that are made with painting, deleting (covering) if not appreciable, repainting redeleting and go on.
- 2- it involves a lot of practice to start mastering it- I mean years of practice- togheter with the study photos of real metals, historical paintings and -ofcourse- miniatures from high level artists (who said K. Kanaev?)
I’m trying to reply this tecnhique on a Roman Legionary by Pegaso Models and I can confirm both good and bad sensations.
This bust seems endless, these reflexes seems to me always wrong and it could be frustrating, but I keep going on because I appreciated this NMM technique so much.
what to say? I think I understood the procedure, although I was not very satisfied with my result. I tried to use it after a while and after a long process the result is interesting. Michal is really an excellent teacher, and also a good boy. I absolutely recommend taking a course with him.
Surely it is a technique that requires a lot of practice, so you have to work hard to get a good result. Good painting to everyone.