In this Artist Spotlight I will be profiling Patrick Mark Hopper.
Patrick Mark Hopper is an American miniature painter with a significant web presence in various message board communities, such as Reaper and WAMP, where he goes by the username Mercius. While Mark dabbled in miniature painting in 1995, he only delved into the hobby seriously beginning in February 2010.
After a childhood in the state of Georgia, Mark joined the U.S. Navy after high school and “saw the world.” He now lives with his wife and two dogs just north of Seattle, Washington, and is attending college to finish his degree in Project Management.
1. How did you get started in the miniature painting hobby?
Technically I guess I started painting in 1995. I had been playing Dungeons and Dragons on and off since I was 8 years old and at fifteen I wanted to paint my own miniatures. I picked up a paint kit and some Ral Partha and Grenadier minis, but I didn’t do much other than dabbling really. All I did was basecoat and drybrush. It looked horrible and after I graduated High School and joined the Navy I quickly forgot all about painting.
Last year, around the end of Feb. 2010 I was with my wife at a local mall and we passed a Games Workshop. I mentioned briefly that I used to paint miniatures and my wife asked me if it was something I would be interested in giving another go. I had been searching for a new hobby so I went inside and picked up a basic paint kit and a boxed set of LOTR Dwarven Rangers. The rest as they say, is history.
2. What brand paints do you prefer, and what are your favorite painting tools?
I started off painting with Games Workshop paints. They are great paints, but I started playing around with other brands, to get a feel for what was out there. I have found that, for my particular painting style, Reaper Master Series paints seem to work the best. I have a pretty large collection of paints really, consisting of various paints from many different companies. For metallics I still use Games Workshop metals as I have yet to find another metallic paint that works as well. As far as the rest of the paint go, definately Reaper Master Series hands down though.
As far as painting tools go, I use Windsor & Newton Series 7 Kolinsky Sable brushes. I don’t use a lot of additives other than water when thinning my paints either. I will throw some Liquitex extender into a paint mix if I want to try some wet blending or need a little more work time on a glaze or layer. I also mix Games Workshop Badab Black and Devlan Mud washes 50/50 into a bottle and use it for armor wash, it works wonders on one thin application. I almost forgot my most important tool, my wet palette…once you try a wet palette it is almost impossible to go back. I use a Masterson’s Handi Palette.
3. Do you have a favorite miniature manufacturer? Any favorite sculptors?
This is a tough one, because I really enjoy most companies, and they all have lots to offer. If I had to settle on just three companies I would choose Reaper, Red-Box Games, and Darksword miniatures.
As far as sculptors go I have a few favorites. Tre Manor would probably be in first place. I love all of his work, but especially love his dwarves. They are just so full of character. Jason Wiebe is another favorite of mine, particularly his monsters and dwarves. I am also a huge fan of Patrick Keith and Sebastian Archer.
4. Are there any mini painters whose work you find particularly inspiring, or whose style you try to emulate?
I gave up on trying to emulate the style of other painters a while back. I try and study work I like and take from it what works for me. That being said there are tons of people I find inspiring.
Meg Maples is probably the biggest influence on my painting, mainly because she just moved out to Washington to work professionally for Privateer Press. Meg and I have been online friends for awhile now and getting to hang out in person and paint together and get a personal critique has been great. It is nice having a friend who “gets” what I mean when I talk about painting.
Other huge influences in my painting are Marike Reimer, Roman Lappat (actualy, pretty much any of the Massive Voodoo team), Jeremie Teboul, Derek Schubert, Rhonda Bender, and Jen Haley.
5. Do you do any sculpting or terrain modeling?
I do “light” amounts of sculpting, when it is needed on a mini or a mini base. I tend to shy away from terrain modeling as I don’t have the patience for it. While painting takes patience, it is a much different sort of patience than is needed for terrain modeling. That being said, I do enjoy the construction of a good display base.
6. Tell us about your workspace. Do you have a dedicated area?
I do now! I just set up a new work area in the Den area of our house. Until a few months ago I was using a craft table my wife had set up to wrap Christmas presents. It was an eyesore, so my wife bought me a beautiful new hardwood desk with a comfy desk chair to sit in. I constructed a tiered shelving for my Reaper Master Series paints so I can see all the bottles and color names. It is a small table, but I really enjoy it and it has room for everything I need to do my painting. I even took a picture of it for you.
7. How do you prefer to work? An hour here and there, when you can find the time? All day painting marathons? Do you listen to music while you paint?
When I first started I would do an hour here and there when I found time. A year ago I was laid off from a job and had a good amount of time on my hands. I would do long paint marathons during that time. Once I found a new job and started college classes again, my time begind to dwindle. Now I rarely find much time at all to paint, so it is truely a get it in where you can fit it in situation at the moment. Usually my wife is watching television in the background, so I usually listen to that, or talk to her about the events of the day. If my wife is not at home then I will listen to music, but it needs to be something that will inspire creativity. Bands like Dream Theater, Redemption, Kamelot, and Nightwish immediately come to mind.
8. How does your wife feel about your hobby?
I keep hearing all these horror stories about painters that have wives that hate their hobby, make fun of them, put them down, etc. Thankfully I do not have to deal with that, my wife could not be more supportive. She was the one who suggested that I get back into painting. She bought me the desk that I am using now, specifically for my painting. She puts up with my constant groaning and insecurities about how horrible of a painter I am. She really is a great and supportive wife and I love her very much for it.
9. Have you ever attended a painting or gaming Con or won any painting awards, in person or online?
I have not been lucky enough to attend any conventions and do not see my schedule permitting any in the immediate future.
I have won a few awards locally. I got third place and first place in different monthly painting competitions at my local Games Workshop. That same Games Workshop held a “mock” Games Day painting competition a few months later and I took second place.
10. You are known in the hobby community as somewhat of a dwarf painting specialist. How did that come about?
I love everything about dwarves. They appeal to the redneck side of me I guess, being beer guzzling, loud, stout braggarts. I find their stubborn courage very inspiring, and let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a big bushy beard.
11. What do you consider your best works? Can you tell us a little bit about them?
I would say that my two best works are two of the dwarves I have painted from Tre Manor’s Red Box Miniatures line. I painted “The King of the Hill” for the Red Box Miniature painting competition held last year on the WAMP forums. “The Mighty Grum” was painted up for no reason other than I wanted to paint him. I really only spent about 6 hours painting him and made a very simple base and to date he is my favorite miniature.
12. What is the origin of your username, Mercius?
I wish I had a cool story for this one, but I don’t. I was sick one day and had stayed home from work when I was stationed in Norfolk Virginia. I fire up Morrowind on my X-Box and talked to a character named “Perseus Mercius.” I stopped and thought “That last name is pretty cool.” So from there on out I began naming all of my video game characters Mercius. I just simply continued on using the name when I started signing up on mini painting forums.
Thanks so much, Mark, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to let me interview you! It’s great to learn more about fellow painters and you were a great first interview subject!
Thanks for thinking of me, this was really fun.