Roland Simon and his wife Regina at their booth in Kulmbach 2015
At this year’s show (2015) in Kulmbach, Jim Horan said I needed to meet Roland and his wife, Regina. After some searching, I found them at their booth. One of the pieces on display won “Best of Show” 2013. Of course, it was beautifully painted. There were several figures painted by Roland on display alongside the same figures unpainted. I purchased several that Roland had a painted duplicate for. The painted display pieces are always a great guide for knowing how well something could be painted—which also explains why I have so many beautiful unpainted pieces in my possession. (I can no longer complain to my wife about how much fabric and how many patterns she has stored in our house. I sometimes think she could open up her own fabric store—but I could probably open a small flat tin figure shop.)
Roland is a busy man, so I appreciate the time he took out of his schedule to entertain a few questions. A gallery of his work has also been created.
How did you get involved in painting flats?
It was during a holiday with my parents more than 40 years ago when I came in contact with flat figures. We visited a small museum in Freiburg/Black Forest which showed the history of the peasants war in that area. The former owner of the museum gave 3 flats (1 peasant with a flag, one fifer, and one drummer) to me as a gift. When returning home, I started to paint these figures with water colours, because the enamels I had, showed no bright colours. I still have these figures in my collection.
Did you have any prior experience in painting?
Yes, I collected and painted aircraft models, mainly II.WW (1:72) and I also built small scenes with figures, before I was attacked by the flat figure virus.
Do you paint in oil, acrylics, enamels, or a combination of mediums?
When painting flat figures I mainly use oil colours, but I have done some with acrylics. To me oils are the best painting medium for flats. I use Winsor & Newton, Mussini, Old Holland, some Lukas and Rembrandt.
How did you learned to paint so well that you won “Best of Show” at Kulmbach?
By vistiting museums and galleries and studying the old masters. I have read a lot about painting.
The late Walter Fischer was a shining example to me. He was the first in painting flats in an
outstanding quality. I learned from the advice he gave and wanted to become as good as he was.
But after all, I am a self-taught-painter.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to improve their painting skills?
Look and learn from others and be curious, but don’t try to copy someone’s style. Develop your own and practise is the best thing in getting better.
Tell us about the collection of flat figures you have for sale. Who engraves them? Are they available through any other dealers? Can they be viewed and ordered online?
The main themes are knights of the middle ages, the American Civil War, Romans and Celts and famous people in history. Most of them are large scale flats (54mm up to 120mm) and busts, only a few are in 30mm. Unfortunately they could not be viewed or ordered online, only by e-mail. My figures are also available by “The Little Tin Soldier“/Jack Muldoon. The figures are engraved by Karl-Werner Rieger and Andreas Trost.
Is there anything I have failed to ask that you would like to add to the interview of interest to the reader?
Yes, there is one thing. Collect and paint what you like and choose always good figures and castings.
Life is too short to waste time on a bad engraved or casted figure. If there is a figure that did not “talk” to you, leave it off.
Someone told me you are the one to go to if you want to know what the lining of the inside pocket of Napoleon was on such and such a day. If I am not mistaken, perhaps you could tell the reader about that part of the art of painting flats and how it has helped you in painting figures.
I have a remarkable library of books on military subjects, but it’s not as huge as it seems. There are still a lot of gaps in it. Nowadays it is easier to find references due to the internet, but I am a little bit old fashioned and love to hold a book in my hands.