After 35 years of drawing young pictures, Chris Clayton wins it all at UK Golden Demon 2022

Few prizes in the world of competitive art are quite as sharp as the Slayer Sword – the premium award given out each year, once in the US and again in the UK, by Games Workshop. Every year since 1987 by a miniaturist at the Golden Devil Painting events, the 5-foot-tall weapon is the dream of many aspiring miniaturists. The few who held the blade faded away. The last one is a veteran amateur named Chris Clayton.

Thirty-five years ago, Clayton took early wins in drawing competitions across the UK, when Games Workshop had just eight stores. Clayton was only 14 years old when the opening Slayer Sword was granted. This year, Clayton’s sword was to be raised, for a brutal duel wrenched from time.

“For me personally, miniature painting was an escape from everyday life,” Clayton told Polygon recently in an email. “at that time [in 1987]Miniature painting was in its infancy and there was very little in the way of teaching or technique, let alone materials or society. […] Even portraits of painted miniatures were rare.

After 38 years of painting, Clayton today works in what he calls a “modest studio,” where windows are wrapped in light-diffusing film. Where Citadel paint pots share space with acrylic paint, oil paints, airbrushes, and sable brushes; and where music can always be heard “to evoke or strengthen memory,” Clayton wrote.

This was where the Slayer Sword of the Year winning entry was born, and this is where the sword now rests.

Photo: Games Workshop

Back view of the giant statue and the kraken showing details of the wreckage and the jitsam hanging from its waist.  The waves seem to be swaying.

Photo: Games Workshop

The right-side view of the colossus and the kraken shows water drops rolling off the hydra and the colossus' free tattoo.

Photo: Games Workshop

“I love monsters and the more the better,” Clayton wrote. “It lends a sense of scale, and if anything, it enhances the fragility of being human in these worlds. When I created the piece, I set out to create a story that fit into the visual narrative of the sculpture.”

“I used to fancy a sailor being pinned down, cursed, and run away by his crew for a superstitious nautical misdemeanour. We happen to be eating kraken across that sea.” […] The sailor, now not dead, has bargained with the giant to travel with him in order to avenge his former crew.”

After the story came “extensive” outline plans to create a “compelling idea of ​​movement, tension and realism”, to bring out that moment in time. Part of this planning laid the groundwork for the complex rule of the duel. “It was essential to the successful realization of the whole piece,” Clayton wrote. “I’d seen some really cool examples of ship modeling where submarines were cutting through the surface of the seas and I thought it would be really cool to incorporate that kind of effect into a fantasy piece.”

The main components for the model came from the 8-inch-tall Kraken-eater Mega-Gargant ($210) and Kharibdyss ($70), a model originally designed for the Dark Elves faction in Warhammer: Age of Sigmar. A great deal of re-sculpting, rethinking, chipping, hacking, and gluing later Clayton had the bones duel—giant, hydra, and all the details of the shallow sea floor underneath.

Giant character fighting the Kraken.  This photo was taken before painting and shows where the pattern was modified with scraps, saws, and putty.

Photo provided by Chris Clayton

Giant character fighting the Kraken.  This front view taken before painting shows how Chris Clayton sculpted the textures on the joints between the plastic components based on the kit.

Photo provided by Chris Clayton

For the next 360 hours—8 hour days for the 10-week period as the English spring slipped into last year’s summer—Clayton labored. “I always like to work with a limited palette especially on something so large and detailed,” Clayton writes. “It would be easy for this piece to become picky, so by keeping a few base colors and then working the tints and shades around those selections, I can keep the colors consistent and harmonious.”

With a nautical-themed painting, “The first part of the piece to be painted was the giant’s feet and the topography of the sea floor. That way, if the effect of the resin water wasn’t working, I wouldn’t waste time and effort drawing the entire giant,” Clayton wrote.

The gathering was about capturing this state of affairs between two lumbering creatures, but how could he capture moving water with the same sharpness?

“I wanted something more dramatic and stormy where visual clarity is paramount as there will be a lot of detail going on beneath the waves,” Clayton wrote. By sculpting waves in clay, Clayton created a silicone mold for the rough sea surface, and “once the base was completely painted, detailed, and finished… I then poured the clear resin into the mold which completely encased the base.”

Extreme close-up of water - pouring resin on plinth - of two large figures in a fighting diorama.  The waves are carefully sculpted, and the water is clear but foamy on top.

Photo provided by Chris Clayton

Clayton writes that silk threads and tiny translucent beads “soaked with clear varnish and carefully placed” formed the foam of air and dripping water. Once the base was leveled, Clayton moved upward, stroking the fine lines of the white belly that showed between the scales of the Hydra, and the wash of purple and red in the folds of the giant’s skin.

After a full 15 days of work and one car drive to Nottingham later, Clayton had sword in hand.

When asked, Clayton said he did not consider himself an artist, but rather a woodworker or ceramicist. “I handle miniatures […] as 3D illustrations, and as a result these are the mediums through which I feel I can express myself most fully.

“I am in the very fortunate position to be able to acquire a miniature painting which is such an important part of a broader overall creative lifestyle. If you had told me in 1987 that I would continue to paint miniatures 35 years later, I would not have believed you, but I would have secretly wished so,” Clayton writes. “Now it’s easy to forget how fortunate we really are to live in a time when what used to be a niche hobby is now part of mainstream popular culture.”

#years #drawing #young #pictures #Chris #Clayton #wins #Golden #Demon

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