About Alan O'Bryan
("Gorilla with a Brush")
Short version:  

I am a miniature painter from Arizona in the United States. I have been painting miniatures as an adult off and on since 1998. In that time I managed to win four U.S. Golden Demons, Master Craftsman at LVO and West Coast Store Wars, along with numerous local painting awards.

Long version:

I was always interested in knights and fantasy from a very young age. I collected Lego medieval sets and built tons of castles with them. I think I watched the movie Ivanhoe about a million times. Every Sunday my family and I would go to Paradise Valley mall for lunch, and afterwards I would beg my parents to let me go to Hobby Lobby so I could stare at all of the models they had there. They had a display case full of painted knight miniatures that I would stare at, and eventually I noticed the area that had RPG figures and some of the early Games Workshop stuff and my interest was piqued. Then one Christmas my grandfather bought Hero Quest for me, and I spent a summer painting the miniatures. This was around 5th grade I think. I had no idea what I was doing (and apparently no flesh colored paint), but I sat there day after day happily painting away. After that summer, though, I didn't pick up a brush again until 1998.

Somewhere around my senior year in high school/summer before my freshman year in college I found the Arizona Gamer temporary storefront at Arizona Mills mall and saw all of the Warhammer Fantasy models. It took me back to those years at Hobby Lobby staring at the models, and I took the plunge. Not to play the game (I kept resisting their requests to teach me the game because I knew I would get sucked in) - I wanted to create a chess set with "good guys" and "bad guys". So I bought a bunch of models and started painting them when I was at college. The skeleton I'm posting here is the first model I painted as an "adult". The problem? I was learning something with every model, and by the time I got to around model #7 the differences in skill and technique were so glaring that I knew the set would look odd. I decided I needed to practice more before I could make the chess set a reality.

With my dreams of painting a chess set dashed, I ended up starting a High Elves army, and eventually 40K Ork and Thousand Sons armies. The store I started playing at was partly owned by Bryan Shaw, a pretty famous painter (I think he ended up with around 40 Golden Demons). Much like I used to drool over the painted knights as a child at the local Hobby Lobby, I drooled over Bryan's models every time I went in to the store. I never asked him for a lot of advice (I generally tend to be a "figure it out on my own" kind of guy in all areas of my life), but he was critical in my painting development for two reasons. First, his work was so cool that it inspired me to try new things. I would stare at his models and try to figure out how he could have possibly achieved some particular effect. Then I would go home and work on my own models, experimenting little by little to see how I could achieve similar results, and then go back and look at his models again to learn more. It's no surprise that a lot of my early stuff was highly derivative of Bryan's work.
Second, Bryan was my biggest cheerleader (and he never even gave me crap for how my painting was ripping off his own stuff!). He would look at each new model I painted when I set it on the table to play, complement me, and encourage me to keep practicing and getting better. I vividly recall the day around summer of 2001 when he looked at a unit of White Lions I had just finished and said, "You are coming with me to Games Day next year. Start preparing now." I said, "I'm not good enough for that!" He replied, "You will be. Keep working and start thinking of a project." Wow. The gauntlet was thrown!

Around 2002-2004 I was pushing myself a lot and learning brush control, freehand techniques, etc. In 2004, though, I got married, and I shifted my time to commission work to help pay the bills. I didn't improve much for several years, and eventually got burnt out. I didn't start painting again until around 2010 when Warmachine Mark II launched. At that time I was looking to get back into the hobby, and this game had a big local crowd and seemed great. This was a new renaissance in my painting as I started pushing myself again and learned some new things.

I played Warmachine/Hordes until 2016, gaining some notoriety for my green Trollbloods army. In 2016 I quit playing, and now devote my hobby time to just painting and learning. I hope that you find me on social media and follow along with my future painting projects!