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Monday, June 17, 2013

Spring Angel 2013 - Paintingbuddha Travel Report - Part I

Painting Buddha Travel Report
The Spring Angel 2013 - Part 1

Buddha goes East
The Painting Buddha goes East

Long time followers of this blog know that we travel to and report from as many miniature related events as we can possibly afford. In the last 20 years I have probably visited at least 42+ miniature competitions - all over the globe. 

I think this is important to keep in mind as this will put this report into perspective. When it comes to miniature painting competitions, I think I have a good idea of what I am talking about ;)

So fasten your seat belt, put your tray up - we are ready for take-off!

Spring Angel 2013 - Moscow

Spring Angel 2013's
Kati and Sergey Pavlov, owners of "The Russian Alternative" called upon the best painters from all around the world to participate in this year's Spring Angel in Moscow - and many followed. Just to give you an idea about the caliber of the participants, here are just a few names that every miniature painter should know: 

"Yellow One""Volomir" (blog), "Lynx""River" (blog), "Ringil" (blog), "Derwish" (blog) - and many, many more. 

Our very own Ben "White Rabbit" KometsMatt Cexwish and Jose Manuel "JMPN" Palomares Nunez were the judges of this event - and as you will see later, they had their work cut out for them...

Some of the names you may not know yet, but should definitely keep an eye out for are: "Wild Panties" (who would not keep an eye out for those!), "4K" and "Gruumsh", among others.

Traveling to Moscow

Hotel Salyut, Moscow
Location of the Spring Angel 2013
Even though Matt had successfully gotten us our Visas ahead of time (which was totally easy, btw), for me, going to Moscow was a last-minute decision. But since we had just finished our work on our Season 1 DVD the weekend before, I chose to indulge myself by going to Moscow.

I had been to Moscow before - that was in 1990, the time of 'Glasnost' and 'Perestroika' had just begun. It was -30 degrees back then, St. Petersburg was still Leningrad and everything looked the way one would have expected the former Soviet Union to look like. 

So for me it was absolutely mind-boggling to see what has become of Moscow. In short: WOW. A beautiful airport, 5-lane highways (which are as congested as in LA in rush hour), advertisement signs like in the US on either side of the road, IKEA, giant shopping malls (more about that later) and everything else that one would expect if one would go to the US, for example. The one-hour trip to the hotel by taxi (which cost only around 60€) was an eye-opener to me.

Sunshine, blue skies and temperatures of 24 degrees (centigrade!) and the fact that the rumor about the beauty of Russian women is absolutely true put a big, big smile on the face of one very happy Galactic President. 

The Hotel Salyut is a pretty large hotel, around 30+ years old, but it was very clean, had some nice amenities, three bars, a pool-table club and a total of, I believe six or seven restaurants. 

And since I now was in Russia I decided to end the first day with some homemade sino-russian Japanese Sushi and a few bottles of Asahi super-dry... LOLWUT? Oh well, I miss Japan, I admit it. The food was awesome and very, very cheap! Nomnomnomnomnom :D 

Event Day

The Russian Alternative welcomes its guests
We all know events where - let's say - you pay 50€ entrance fee just to get in and then you get nothing in return - except maybe for the chance to buy miniatures at catalog prices...

Not so at the Spring Angel. 

Entrance was free. Then you get invited to a free breakfast buffet in a beautiful café. And right when you are exhausted from admiring all the masterpieces in the showroom you get invited to an awesome lunch buffet - awesome food and drinks for everyone.

It suffices to say that for all of the miniature events that I have attended this is completely and utterly unheard off. All courtesy of the Russian Alternative!

Breakfast at Tiffany's - only better.
During breakfast I joined Ben, Volomir, JMPN, Matt and his girlfriend for a quick cup of coffee but we quickly mingled with some of our new Russian friends. 

Many of them I already knew from Facebook - but we had never met in person before. Some others I knew from Coolminiornot or their blogs. In many cases it felt like talking to an old friend you just hadn't seen for a very long time. It was quite awesome!

No translating bablefishes were needed
nor harmed during the event.
Communication in English worked just fine for the most part - and where it failed, the good-old 'talking with hands and feet' approach worked as designed. Sometimes some of the Russian visitors volunteered to step in as a translator. It was so much fun to finally meet all the people whose work I follow for years and years. 

Everyone was just absolutely nice and we had some very cool and long discussions about Life, the Universe and Everything... and miniature painting, of course! After all, that is what our Universe is all about ;) 

The Champions League of Painting Competitions

The entries were closely studied by
a very knowledgable audience
I chose that title very carefully - and I don't think it's an overstatement. Let me explain. Oftentimes when talking about painting competitions, people talk about how high or low the 'painting standard' was

"Yellow One" Kyril Kanaev checks
out the strong competition
Let me give you an example. The Coolminiornot Crystal Brush 2013 had about 6 or 7 miniatures out of I believe 230 that I would have given a chance of winning the event. If you have voted through all of the miniatures like me, I am sure you will agree. Even if the winner walks home with 10.000$, I am afraid to say that the overall painting standard of the Crystal Brush was very low. If you do the math, it's about 3% of all entries which would be considered top-entries. 

At the typical Games Day, I would say that the standard is much higher than that and maybe something like 10-15% of all entries are top-entries (depending on venue and category of course). 

Again, this is not a scientific claim, just a very basic and probably rather subjective observation. 

A table full of trophies waited
for the deserving winners.
As you will see in the many gallery links later, for the Spring Angel I would put the percentage of top entries close to 50%, maybe even higher. Some of the entries that walked home without a trophy would surely win in many other international events. The Jury had a really tough time deciding which of the awesome entries should win and why. 

I hear that only events like Mont San Salvino (which I will attend for the first time this year) or the World Expo (next one in 2014) may be of a similar caliber. We will find out for you, promised ;) 

But wait, that's not all!

A beautiful city, a classy location, awesome people, mindblowing miniatures and free food are not enough for you? You need more? YOU are a TOUGH COOKIE! How about cash prizes of up to 700€ for the three first places of EACH category. No? Still not enough? OK. Then I have to bring out the big guns... FREE Masterclasses, maybe? 

A not well hidden camera interrupted the secret
jury deliberations between Ben and Matt. 
That's right. Throughout the afternoon - and while the contest jury secretly did what secretive contest juries do, Kati and Sergey have organized free Masterclasses with Rafael "Volomir" García Marín, Stephan "Derwish" Rath and Matt "Matt Cexwish" Cexwish (^.^).

Up to about 100 visitors enjoyed the large screen projections of the free classes in their comfy cinema chairs. The really nice part was that everyone could ask questions, walk up to the table and have a look 'over the shoulder' of the artist and look at the finished pieces. 

OK, in this case, the freehands
were not exactly hidden ;) (Lynx)
About the entered miniatures

I already mentioned the very high standard of the event. But there was another peculiarity to the pieces we saw. 

Sometimes, when you go to an event, you look at a miniature and say: Wow that is well done! At the Spring Angel, that happened all the time. But then you took a closer look and said: WOW there is even more to discover! Many of the miniatures had some very fine and subtle freehands all over the place. 
Russian artists have long been known for their fine freehands and their perfect execution. It has been an absolute pleasure to see these works of art. 

Unfortunately, I could only take pictures from the front of many miniatures - but the guys from Russian Alternative have organized a professional photographer so we can expect winner pictures from all sides very soon. 

Who I was missing at the event

Some of the artist's that I would have loved to see at the event were (not a complete list ^^): Bohun, Ana, Camelson, Crackpot, Picster, Jarhead, Nakatan, Karol Rudyk, Rusto, Arsies, Emuse, Goatman, Franciuus, Monkeyman7x, etc. etc.....

GUYS! Seriously! 2014 - Summer Angel! You simply MUST go! :) 

If you look at what the Spring Angel 2013 had to offer and compare it with ANY other competition, I think you will consider visiting the SUMMER ANGEL 2014! We will go for sure and we will also help you with information about travel and visas when the time has come - so stay tuned!

And the winner is...

...everyone who attended the event. OK, I know that sounds cheesy, but I really mean it. By now I guess you can kinda 'feel' my excitement about this event. The reason why I am even more excited about the Spring Angel and in particular about The Russian Alternative will be covered when I wrap up this event in Part 2 of this report (which will probably come out on Wednesday). In that report I will also show you the secret footage of the after-event party!

But now, of course you want to see the miniatures and hear about the winners of the competition. Here a sneak peak of the Best of Show from Lynx. See his link below for more hi-res pictures of his awesomely mad ninja skillz!

This is just unreal. I mean real. I mean... You know what I mean... ^^
Congratulations to Lynx for his Best of Show and his many other trophies!

Galleries & Blog Reports
My own little Picasa Webalbum - Part 2 on Wednesday!

Best of Show winner: 

Lynx' site with detail shots of his award winning minis! (Dmitry Fesechko)

Ton's of trophies for Nadya, too,
also, full list of winners for each category: 

Hope River's Valley (Nadya's blog)

Many beautiful pictures from Irina:
Little Green Dwarf's Flickr Albums (Irina Kozmina; 1: People - 2: Awards - 3: Masterclass)

So nice to finally meet Anna!
Ija's Facebook Album (Anna Shestakova)

I put some money on this guy for next year: 
Ookami's Facebook Album (Sergei Gusev)

And another awesome guy: 
YarikMiniatures Blog (Yaroslav Bobrov)

< End of Part 1 >



  1. thank god for IKEA! you didnt win anything mich? ;) looks pretty mindblowing, really have to try going next year!

    1. I didn't enter anything ^^
      But in about 2 minutes I will start working on my Games Day US (TENNESSEEEEEEE!) entries :D

  2. Mike, thank you for report! It's pleasure to read these kind words. And yes, we're waiting for more artists from the other countries. But I'm sure that with such articles we will see them on the next Angel!

  3. Thanks for this report, I get really wanted to go to the contest

  4. I really love the sandals (both of them). Have fun! :DClick Here

  5. You can add here link to my last ablum on flickr, Spring Angel 2013_Models


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