I recently had the opportunity to speak with Lisa Mason of Goldfinch Miniature Painting. Her work has enthralled so many and her blog offers expert tips and helps others learn to navigate the hobby.
Anton Kromoff: Hi Lisa. Tell us a little about yourself.
Lisa Mason: I have been painting miniatures now for about 3 years and I paint to display/competition level and enter these where I can. Competitions are starting up again after a 2-year hiatus (obviously due to COVID) and I’ve managed to win a couple of awards, which has been a very nice result. I have always loved fantasy and science fiction and discovered Heroquest and Warhammer as a kid, but my favorite part was the miniatures, although paints back then were certainly not as good or wide-ranged as they are today!
Throughout my teens and early twenties, I painted on and off but lost interest eventually and got rid of most of my collection about 20 years ago thinking I’d never get back into it. Then about 4 years ago started thinking about it again and eventually decided to wade back in and was very surprised at how everything had changed. Initially, I got back in via Warhammer but then discovered 3d printing and disappeared down that rabbit hole instead. So I now mainly paint resin printed or resin cast models.
Anton: What is your favorite size mini or model to paint?
Lisa: Depends on the sculpt, but mostly anything above 35mm. They all offer varying ways to push your skills. 75mm are one of my favorite sizes, but I also really like 54mm as it’s a good in-between size.
Anton: Do you have a preferred media that plays while you paint or do you need it to be quiet? Lisa: I mainly listen to music whilst I paint, anything from classical to Linkin Park – I have quite a varied taste in music. Or I’ll watch painting Twitch streams, tutorials on YouTube, or Critical Role – as I am a massive D&D nerd too.
Anton: What type of brushes do you like to use and why? Lisa: My go-to brushes are Rosemary & Co, and their Series 8. They last a long time and hold a good point, with a longer bristle. One thing I learned early on is that you do not need to have a size 000 brush to paint details with, you can paint just as well with a size 2 brush as long as it has a good point. Others I have tried that I’ve quite liked are Greenstuff World’s own branded brushes and Winsor and Newton Series 7. I never throw a brush away, once it is no longer holding a point or no good for detailed work it gets demoted.
Anton: Do you have a favorite paint color? Lisa: Purple is a definite favorite. It’s very versatile and easy to lighten and darken. If you look closely at most of my work I pretty much use it on every project I’ve ever done.
Anton: What has been your favorite miniature to paint to date? Lisa: Probably Chmerih Faceless, by White Werewolf Tavern. It was something different from what I normally paint and was a joy to paint. It was also a 75mm model, which meant I could lose myself in details.
Anton: Is there a miniature or model you have waiting but just can’t bring yourself to paint yet? Lisa: Yes! Sai Zhang by Neko Galaxy. I want to paint her jacket in a holographic material and have her sitting with neon lights around her, I’m building up to it, but haven’t been brave enough to think about starting that project yet.
Anton: What advice would you give someone new to the hobby or trying to find out if the hobby is right for them? Lisa: Buy some cheap models and paints and just paint the models. Don’t worry about anything other than just putting paint on plastic. Later when you want to venture deeper into the hobby then start thinking about buying better quality miniatures, paints, brushes etc… Even then, go slowly – it isn’t a cheap hobby! (Especially if it’s Warhammer AOS/40k you’re into.)
I get a lot of people asking me about advanced techniques like NMM (non-metallic-metal), OSL (object source lighting), and other techniques before they’ve considered trying to master the basics. Of course, I will never deter people from trying them out, but they are easier to try when you have figured out techniques like layering and glazing and have a basic understanding of color theory and underpainting (how layers of paint interact with one another).
Also, when you’re first starting out don’t pay for tutorials, like on Patreon, as there is a hive of free stuff on the internet and if you’re on social media there are vast communities of people who will be more than happy to help you out. And always remember that if you want to constantly improve your skills, paint for a short time every day. You’ll get more out of painting for 15-30 mins every day rather than in a single 8 hours stretch once a week. Practice doesn’t make perfect, by the way, practice makes better. I treat every project and model I paint as practice and an experiment, I’ve had more fun with my painting that way and I don’t feel pressured to constantly churn work out.
Anton: Thank you so so much for taking the time to talk to us. Where can readers follow you?