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The Crimson Brush

We asked The Crimson Brush organiser Trent to tell us a bit about Cancon’s Painting Competition, and why we think ArcOpen entrants or anyone heading to Canberra in January might want to join in this amazing event.

Who We Are

The Crimson Brush is a dedicated Display Painting Competition held across the Cancon weekend in Canberra from 21st-23rd January.

Miniature painting is a fun, involving hobby. For the majority involved they are painting models with the goal to have them ready to play on a tabletop, or show off on a bookshelf or cabinet. But there’s another level beyond that which most gamers strive to show off at Warhammer Events across the globe. Many of you will be familiar with Golden Demon as it’s most people’s first exposure to a display painting competition. But… There is an expanding world of people who want to explore painting miniatures as a pursuit in its own right.

Display painting is about painting not for the sake of having a model ready for a competition, but for the pure enjoyment of painting itself and striving to create a unique artistic interpretation. Everyone is free to explore their own imagination and vision for these tiny little models.

Social media has helped to expose more people to display miniatures from across the globe. But photography simply doesn’t capture everything about some of these awesome pieces and a chance to see them in the flesh is why competitions like Crimson Brush and ArcOpen are important.

If you are looking to see more of what miniature painting has to offer, then Crimson Brush launches our “display painting season” in Australia. And we’re excited to have even more people join in or see what we are all about!

Where We’re From

The Cancon weekend was the home of the Crystal Dragon Painting Competition. Initially brought to life by Meg Maples and Mark Soley, and running for close to ten years it is a name synonymous with display painting in Australia. It was also very fortunate to have the involvement of numerous international painting guests, including Roman Gruba, Craftworld Studio, KAHA and Vince Venturella.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Cancon was forced to take a year off. This was followed by many challenges involved in the Crystal Dragon team being able to run, let alone attend the event in 2021 thanks to the uncertainty of border closures.

This situation created an opportunity to take a breather, and see if we could expand the painting scene in Australia to include more events. So, plans were put in place to establish Crystal Dragon at a different time and location, and although that has not borne fruit as yet, watch this space.

With that, the Crimson Brush was born. There was a new team and a slightly new focus: we felt it best to differentiate the events and the expectations of competitors choosing to head to Canberra. Most importantly we still wanted to have an event for high level display painting at Cancon!

Thankfully despite the continuing challenges the Crimson Brush event had an amazing turn out in its inaugural year in 2022. The quality of David Colwell’s Best at Show winning entry is testament to the quality on show for its first year. We cannot wait to see what next year will bring, with everything planned and those already signed on to attend.

David Colwell - Best at Show Crimson Brush 2022

The advent of ArcOpen is a fantastic opportunity to continue the growth of the painting scene in Australia, and the organizing teams are working collaboratively to support each other in making both events succeed. That’s why I’m excited for the the opportunity to write an article for the Arc40k website!

Open To All - Live Streaming

One of the innovations we were able to launch in 2022 for Crimson Brush has been the amazing impact of broadening participation by live streaming parts of the event.

We had interviews with painters, shots of the event, and finally the judging process was streamed - there was certainly no pressure as Sebastian Archer and I judged the event live to the attending participants and an online audience. This created a very transparent and open judging process, as well as giving aspiring entrants an idea of what judges look for from entries.

For The Crimson Brush in 2023 we are expanding the live streaming to include some painting demonstrations, interviews with judges, event coverage and the live judging stream again. It’s going to be an engaging and exciting event - both in person and online!

All these streams are still available from last year on my YouTube Channel, if you want to see what it is like!

Open to Choose

The system of judging at the Crimson Brush is Open Judging. For each of the categories, there is no limit to the number of Gold, Silver, or Bronze awards that can be given out. Those adjudged as Gold standard will all receive a Gold. This encourages a very supportive and collaborative approach from attendees – rather than competing against each other, painters are only competing with themselves.

This year the Crimson Brush has a new look judging panel.

Sebastian Archer, multiple Slayer Sword and Golden Demon winner, as well as Crystal Dragon Best in Show, heads the panel. With his years of experience in the miniature painting community, he provides an amazing insight and experience that he is always willing to share with participants.

You can find Sebastian on instagram:

The winner of the previous years event is invited to join the judging panel for the following year. As a result David Colwell, who many consider to be the current best painter in Australia, joins the panel for this year.

You can Find David on instagram:

Rounding out the judging panel we have a renowned international painter attending the event for the first time since COVID. We are being joined by Natalia Oracz, an amazing painter from Poland who is also touring Australia through January and February holding a series of sold-out workshops across the country.

You can find Natalia on instagram:


Finally, one of the best parts of the Crimson Brush is the Painter’s Lounge.

This is an open area where attendees can spend time over the weekend painting, sculpting, collaborating and simply engaging in the hobby in a community environment. It is often one of the highlights of the event, participants showing off their work, sharing ideas and processes and bringing their passion to others.

That is what you can expect from the Crimson Brush – a fun, community focused event that aims to drive the display painting scene forward and continue to build relationships across our very large country.

We hope those attendees excited for the ArcOpen can also consider joining us in January!

If you’re heading to Cancon for any of the gaming activities then drop into the Crimson Brush and say hi! You might just find a desire to stretch the limits of your painting to that next level.


You can find more details about The Crimson Brush by downloading their information sheet:


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