Monday, November 17, 2014

Artist Feature - Max Betterman

Max "I'm a Lawyer HAHAHAHA" Betterman.. I met this guy back when I was in Augsburg for he Private lessons with Roman and Raffa prior to Duke of Bavaria. So he know's roughly where my quality level was at, and even then was giving me some tips and tricks on how to improve my painting.

I have the fortunate chance to run into him again at the Monte Show and he again went and tore new strips off me and my pieces that I put in the different categories.

Harsh. Brutal. Honest. Direct. Accurate. 

Best way I can describe his feedback to me on how my painting is going and what I need to fix on the pieces. Cut right through me on a few points, and I have to say that it was very jarring to hear some of the comments that he gave. To the point that we only went over one display per day as that was all I could handle.

And he was loving every minute of it :)

But upon reflection, and many beers, I can say that it was all accurate, true pieces of information that I do need to hear if I want to move up to the Masters categories next year.

Biggest comments I can take from him were more along the thinking behind what is the model doing or why is something where it is. Been told this before, but now being given a bit more details or theory behind that comment with real examples on my pieces.

Such as:

  • Why is there moss on the metal roof of my Zombie Dio? 
  • Or the bricks.. making them not look like they were just glued to the building, and rough the up a bit more as well. 
  • That although I can do well enough with my contrasts now, I need to think on where do I want those contrasts and lights to go? 
  • Where is the focus on the piece? And thus where should I focus the light and effort on the piece?
  • If the fisherbots string is not straight, it is not the end of the world.. unless it is the focal point of the piece and then it means that more attention to it is required!
  • Think on the texture of a piece, and look for more reference materials for it. Such as the bandana on the cabin boy, and what fabric would it be made out of?
  • Using Inks on the skin to bring in the shine, without having to bring in varnishes which might distort the colors. 
And these are just some of the highlights.. I have several pages worth of notes from him on how to improve my pieces or work on future pieces as well. Something that I am putting into practice now on the Viking bust and looking more into the textures and thinking more on how I will paint it. 

What was truly awesome is that he then did something very unusual at the end of the event. After winning Silver with his Historical Masters entries.. he was talking about what to do with the pieces. Jokingly Peter and I said we would help by taking some off his hands... and he said OK.. 

His award winner display at Monte... and some top shelf pieces indeed! Well worth the award for him here! And which did he give me?

At first I had asked if I could have the Cowboy.. again thinking that it was a HAHA fooled you joke for later on.. but when the competition was over, and we were all packing up. Max shows up with the Cowboy and hands it to me to take home! Like.. whoa! A great piece that I saw him start to work on at Duke, and now part of my collection at home where I can reference it for ideas on skin and linen styles... mind blown!

But then while he was packing the rest and complaining about how he was going to take the rest home he offered me his Germanic Warrior bust as well!


I mean this was really a surprise and an awesome one cause I have this piece at home. Really like how he did it, and can now use it as a Side by Side comparison for when I begin to paint up my version!

Incredibly humbled by this, and I have to say thank you over and over for such a gift! Now looking forward to seeing him again in February when we paint up the Andrea Ronin with Alfonso "Banshee" Giraldes in Augsburg. Though he also said he didn't want to sit near me due to how fast I paint compared to how slow he paints. But honestly.. if he paints slowly, and gets these results, then he must be doing something right! And seeing him paint might be interesting all the same!

Until the next time! Enjoy the week, and Max.. thanks again! 


  1. Hola
    Grandes trabajos
    un saludo

  2. That is such a wonderful gift. I can't even imagine that. That is truly a great painter. He paints for the sake of painting not just for the end product, as he is willing to part with it, probably happy to just have the chance to paint another.

    Probably the best gift you could give him, is a new unpainted bust he hasn't worked on yet!

    Great to get such feedback too. I think you definitely need to get some harder feedback as you progress up the ladder of competition. Different areas gain in importance as time progresses, and need attention to be called to them. It's nice to have friends telling you how great your stuff is (and it is!), but just as good to hear "why did you do that? This would have helped the piece so much more, and here is why...."

    It especially helps when the person critiquing your work is at your level or higher. I always feel a bit silly offering feedback on some of the blogger painting posts, as I am merely at the beginning of my ladder, and feel a bit silly staring into the sun and saying the highlight is too bright :).

    1. Agreed Greg.. on many of the points.. but instead of a new unpainted bust I think I will have to think on something else to gift him in return for this. Maybe one of my pieces in the future when it is to this level? Or even to pay it forward to someone at some point as well. I have gifted a few in my time as well, but definitely not at this level of quality!

      And believe it or not, even critiques of all levels ( starters or advance ) can bring something to the piece that the artist might have missed or overshadowed due to tunnel vision on the piece itself. I get Mrs Lee to look at quite a few of my pieces to give me some ideas on where it is going wrong or what doesn't look right to her. She might not be able to nail it exactly, but she can push me into new thoughts. Just need to lean on her and others more at times when I get stuck!

      Looking forward to showing him, and some of my other teachers in the past, my works this February when I meet up with them next! And see what kind of critiques I get at that point there!

      Thanks for the comments as always!

  3. The warrior is nice, but that cowboy? Hell yeah, do you know where he picked that up from? I've been dropping crazy hints to loved ones about the Sheriff from Pegasso and Black Jack from S75 (love westerns, Bronson was the man)

    What you say about being direct is true. The feed back you gave me recently was to the point and was/is far more helpful than a pat on the back.

    1. Not sure where the Cowboy bust is from. Will try to find out and let you know over FB then.

      And yes.. direct, blunt, and honest feedback is sometimes very much needed as the pat on the back only boosts the ego. And I can say from experience that the let down when you finally get that direct, honest feedback can be much more dangerous and damaging at that point if all you have heard are good things ;)

  4. Awesome gift! They are all fantastic!


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