Saturday, 25 February 2017

NaMoPaiMo Pony

Back in January Jennifer Buxton at Braymere Custom Saddlerey launched "NaMoPaiMo". She designated this February as National Model Painting Month, a play on the national novel writing month which takes place in November. It quickly became international and several hundred painters joined up ready to motivate each other to try and complete a pony within a month.

I picked a Breyer Classics body that I actually primed when I was in my second year at university (sooo, that was 2013). I'd bought some job lots of old Breyers to practice on and then never dared paint any of them. The time limit of a month and the idea that I could stop after 28 days even if my model didn't feel "good enough" were sort of comforting and the push I needed to try and get one of my "practice Breyers" painted!

My reference photo:
Here's the pony early on, having his base coat applied with make-up sponges. This was one of many great tips shared in the group. I got a make-up sponge in a live show goody bag last year and ignored it until I saw a tutorial on the NaMoPaiMo facebook group and it worked pretty well.
I was happy with how he was going at this point and started to paint in his hair so I could imagine him as bay rather than chestnut or palomino.
Then he seemed to go really messy. As I tried to build up the colour he just seemed to get streakier... patchier... brush-strokier...
 I tried adding more horse features to convince myself he'd be OK. Mane colour and shaded points. This did not convince me.
I was starting to feel a bit depressed about my pony at this point. Super amazing talented people kept posting their gorgeous horses in the group and I had Mr Streaks here. I posted some questions, looked at shading diagrams and worked out a few key things I'd been doing wrong with my paints. Finally, he seemed to come together.
Today is the last free day I have for painting in February so I told myself I had to finish him. I spent waaaay longer than I want to admit making the shading on his sides lighter... darker... lighter again... while I tried to blend it. In the end it wasn't perfect. But I'd say it's good enough. 
Yep, there are lots of places where he could be improved. But at some point I had to stop and tell myself he'll do. And actually it turns out I'm pretty proud of him.
I think he's a step up from my last bay custom too.
Most of all I'm pleased with his cheeky face. It went wrong so many times before it went right - for some reason I just couldn't work out that it was OK to put the light brown and the dark brown next to each other. Then I glossed his eyes before I sealed him and learned the obvious lesson that matte sealant makes things matte. But hey - now he looks like this and I love it!
NaMoPaiMo was a fab idea and I'm so pleased it gave me the motivation and confidence to paint my pony. I actually started two other models as a result and will hopefully finish them too very soon. Check out the Facebook group for all the other NaMoPaiMo ponies (including some VERY professional ones!) as well as a whole host of tutorials and tips!


  1. Aww, he's gorgeous, and what a lovely colour (I am partial to seal bays 😅). I think you did a really great job on him. I must confess, the big reason I didn't join in the challenge was I get very intimidated/demoralised seeing everyone else's amazing work, and not being able to get anywhere close with my own painting, but the more I've seen of people's posts and blogs over this month the more I've wished I did join in after all 😅

    1. Thank you!! I was super intimidated by some of the other work in the group especially when he was all streaky and my other two customs just seemed to be attracting pieces of fluff every time I put another layer on... Just telling myself I have to keep practicing to get good and whatever state he was in at the end of the month I could stop! We could do a mini painting practice month in March if you wanted :)