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Artist Spotlight - Lewis Cairns of paintbrush_nightmares

Wow, it's been a few minutes since one of these artist spotlights. If you were a medium to large sized dog, it would have been a couple of years. And if you were a mayfly... well, best not to think about that.

If you can remember the point of these articles, they are here to shine a larger and brighter light upon the artists within the miniature painting community, aimed at getting us all to know eachother a little better. The internet is a scary wild west of non-humans, so it's nice to be reminded sometimes that we are all indeed humans. Today, we're getting to know Lewis of @paintbrush_nightmares a little better. Lewis has been amazingly helpful towards the blog, and actively proves that the community spirit is still very much alive within this cold old world. I think that's good enough a reason to sit round the fire with a warm cup of something legal, listening to Lewis regale his tales of life and miniature painting. So let's all be quiet and enjoy what he's got to say.


- How, why and when did you start painting?

When I was 11 years old I went to my friends how for the weekend. We played the typical games of the time – namely, some PlayStation Two games like Spyro, some Pokémon cards and your typical imagination based stick duels. As the day grew old I passed by his brothers room, only to find, as I nosily peered through the open door, a 4 X 4 table, with an entire scene of resplendent plastic models. The scene was a makeshift Helms Deep, and laid out before the walls of the fortress was about 100 Uruk Hai miniatures. Just like that I was hooked. The lord of the Rings had captured my heart as a child, and seeing those incredible miniatures then sent me into a world of imagination where I could command legions of the fiercest Orcs that Saruman had ever created. This year I returned to the idea of painting some Isengard!

When I turned 16 I decided to give the whole ‘painting’ thing a real try. I started with Necrons and found genuine pleasure in the way that the black inks would bring out the sculpted details in the miniatures. I experimented with other colours, and I found myself entirely enthralled. When my friends moved on to other hobbies, I remained with my paintbrushes and years later, as many have returned to the hobby, I am still to be found with a brush, some paints, and a little robot in hand.

- What do you love and hate about painting?

Without a doubt painting has had a positive influence on my life. I love the way that my brain will go into a restful autopilot as I go through the more mundane elements of the process, and I find it to be a soothing salve after a long, loud day. I have a high stress job that requires a lot of talking, so the joy of silence is often welcomed. Painting offers a zen that few other hobbies can ever provide – there is something beautifully tactile about seeing a project through to completion from it’s base materials to it’s aesthetic completion. I would also like to say that I absolutely love the way that painting brings us all together. The community for this hobby is ever growing and vibrant – no longer is painting the secret hobby of the closeted nerd. Painting is a tremendous way to make friends, and I have been blessed to find some of the finest people in my life through this hobby. (I even found myself at two of these colourful individuals wedding in Greece last month!)

However, something that never fails to frustrate is hobby burnout. Burnout is something I never took seriously until last year. I painted almost nightly, I practiced with oils, acrylics, blending, glazing, feathering, you name it, and I never really hit that wall. This changed during a particularly difficult period last year when strikes began in my work as a response to projected redundancies and suddenly – boom – I couldn’t pick up a brush to save myself. To those experiencing this, I would like to state that ultimately your desire to paint will return – and when it does, it will return with a vengeance. Trust me and my brand-new Napoleonic British army…

- Favourite project you've worked on?

The first project that comes to mind is the Gotrek pictured here. I absolutely adored the Gotrek and Felix books, and I wanted to make a dynamic and colourful piece that recreated the art on the cover of the books. The model itself is wonderful and comes with a base of splintered wood, broken shields and dead ratmen – so I wanted to expand on this and really place Gotrek in a setting that felt at home within the pages of his novels. I used balsa wood to make more wooden planks and littered them across the base. I filled small puddles in with UV resin. I airbrushed a storming sky, and hand painted every individual raindrop with a line brush. I used every trick in my arsenal to bring this miniature to life, and after I had spent a few weeks working away at him and his base the result was something that brought me immense joy. I entered Gotrek into the Scottish IPMS show, and he came away with a Best In Class trophy – the icing on the cake! I would not say that Gotrek is my most technical paintjob, nor is he the most likely model to ever place in a painting competition, but he is one of my favourites, some six months after his completion. When I look at him, sat proudly in his little scene, I feel satisfaction.

- Future project you're planning or working on?

Well I have a few projects that I am currently working on! I have a Skaven Verminlord that I want to do some justice to – I was thinking something along the lines of a Marco Frisoni style oil paint job for him, to really create a sense of dead, torn flesh on an ungodly behemoth of a rat. Beside the Verminlord sits a half painted Imperial Guard Valkyrie that I like to weather whenever I want something fun to work on. It’s been a month, and this fella is still getting weathered! I have a small project of some Indian Sepoys for my Napoleonic British, and I have a handful of Imperial Fist models that will need a suitably grimdark touch.

However, there are a few pieces that I am developing as I type this with a grander destiny than just sitting on my shelf. One of my passions is to compete at national painting competitions and Golden Demon is the daddy of them all. I was fortunate enough to earn a finalist pin in 2022, and since then I have wanted to keep pushing myself into the commended category and beyond. This year with demon being held in Germany, I am focussed on smaller, more intricate paint jobs that can be easily transported from my native Scotland, rather than the big bombastic personality models that I usually like to work on, such as a Morathi, Imperial Knight or Krondys! So on my paint desk sits a single Goblin town goblin, a solo Imperial Guard Psyker and a very grumpy looking Age of Sigmar orc. I am focussing on working on my discipline with these models – so each miniature will have the best that I can give, and hopefully they’ll earn me something shiny in Germany. Wish me luck! 


And that was Lewis. Do you feel like you know Lewis now? Thinking about heading round his house for a shower and a plate of leftovers? Well don't. You definitely don't know him well enough for that yet. But go check out this page and say hey, and I'm sure it'll only be a matter of time. If you need any extra convincing to go and do that, have a look at this selection of some of my favourite paintjobs Lewis has created.

As you can see, Lewis is always creating an eclectic range of different paintjobs and styles to keep his miniature painting portfolio intertesting. As previously mentioned, you can head over to Lewis' page over @paintbrush_nightmares to check out more of his work in greater detail.

A massive thanks to Lewis for his time and effort in contributing his words for today's Artist Spotlight. I'm so grateful for his willing and community spirit to help out with writing something like this, and I shall be eternally in his debt.

If you like what you've seen and fancy having your own little Artist Spotlight here to talk about your miniature painting journey, please get in touch. I would absolutely love to be able to have more content like this on the blog, but it is dependant on you also wanting to! If that sounds like you, then you can get in contact via right here, or @plasticpreacher via Instagram.



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