So I wanted to take this time to say thanks to Steve for all the years he ran the forum that so many of us enjoyed, and many considered their online hangout for all things painting and miniatures.
I found it over a decade ago, and at times it was my main place to go for my painting community fix. There was always a rotating but consistently friendly, enthusiastic, and talented cast of regulars there. Whether you were seeking critique, advice, inspiration, motivation, encouragement, or just some friendly banter, you would find it in spades among the membership. Some of that is organic, and it just happens in a group, but I think a lot of it was due to Steve himself. Not just his long years and substantial reputation in the hobby, but he also set the tone of being glad and willing to put in the effort to provide a place for us all to congregate.
He set up the framework, but it was also always clear that the membership had the freedom and the responsibility to make of it what they wanted, and that always resonated with me. At Steve's encouragement, it was the first place I started posting HowTo articles for specific topics, so others could learn from my mistakes.
It was through his forum that I also got connected with CourtJester, and did some of my first review articles for WPM, which was a great learning experience working on more official publications.
Later, I got in touch with Kevin through the forum, and ended up with my 5 minutes of fame, enshrined in full color glossy photographs and the chance to do a one page write up on my work in his Painting & Modelling Masterclass book.
He also had an auxiliary chatroom attached to the forum for a number of years, and the real-time interaction there was the source of all sorts of entertainment and sillyness, a good sounding board for projects and ideas, and as weird as it may be to some, a place to make genuine friendships with folks whom you'd never met, and might never meet in person. Especially if you're separated by an ocean or more from the majority of them, as I was. I will remember fondly the salad days when the chatroom mafia was active and lively, and Steve, Daywalker, Seansdaddy, Brushie, PeachyCarnehean, and I would trade jokes, miniature minutia, and just hang out.
The success and welcoming attitudes of the forum and chatroom inspired me, and many years after I'd stopped being such a regular around those parts, when circumstances suggested that maybe I should try building a forum, much of what I liked about the SDForum informed how I approached starting my own. I'm really proud of what the RP team has become, small though we are, and I owe Steve a debt of thanks for the example he provided.
We're all sad to see the forum go, and maybe going down unexpectedly was a blessing, to forego all the long sappy good byes, but since we didn't get a chance to say it there, I wanted to say it here, for the record:
Steve, Thanks for all you did for us by running the site for so long. All the opportunities and projects I mention above had a lot to do with the platform you provided, and the community it enabled. I'm sure I'm not the only one who benefited from it, and enjoyed it. Hope the dogs are doing well. :)
I have a few pieces of Deano's work, but here is my favorite by far: