Thursday, March 10, 2011

Motivating Yourself to Paint

One of the things that always waxes and wanes through the years is my motivation to paint. Sometimes I’m keen and sometimes I think I’d prefer a root canal. In the early days 10-12 years ago I would get up in the morning and do 30 minutes to an hour before I went to work and then 2-3 hours when I got home. Now I struggle to do an hour every couple of nights while at other times I’ll do a couple of hours in an evening. I’m guessing that the underlying reason is I’m getting older but other things must enter into it.

In those first few years everything was new and you saw marked improvement every time you learned a new technique. After awhile though the learning curve starts to flatten and you reach a plateau. Every advance in technique after that is very hard fought and the achievement less and less of an improvement. To move to the next stage you probably have to have talent rather than perseverance.

So what do you do to maintain motivation?

Well here are a few things I think works.

1. Something Different

Every now and then I try and paint something different. Over the past 12 months this has usually been a terrain piece which is sufficiently different from the figures in a Fantasy army to give me a break. Similarly over the last couple of weeks I finished off the figures in my historical Mongol Conquest army, again enough of a difference to be a holiday.

2. Revisit An Old Army

As above, sometimes a change is as good as a rest. Have a look at one of your existing armies and look at adding a new unit to it or replace an existing one. At the moment I am painting the Forgeworld Great Unclean One for my Death Guard army and I have the FW Nurgle Plague Hulk on order. Neither choice is particularly fantastic in a CSM army but they are a million miles away from painting clanrats.

3. Ignore the Meat and Potatoes, Focus on the Dessert

If you have been painting rank and file and the line still to be done stretches to the horizon, then switch to a “treat”. Skaven armies, for example, have warmachines, weapons teams (though perhaps not after yesterday’s bagging), a multitude of characters etc. If you have hit an impasse with lowly unit types then treat yourself by painting one of the “ornaments”.

4. Carrot No Good? Try the Stick!

If treats don’t work then try the stick. Enter a tournament. That gives you a ready made deadline by which you need to finish your painting. You can either put on your big boy pants and do it or suffer the inevitable sense of failure if you don’t. Stories abound of people hurriedly painting their army the night before a tournament to make sure they complete it.

5. Ear Candy

Listen to podcasts while you are painting. The podcasters should be enthusiastic about the hobby and hopefully inspire you to great deeds. I find it less of a chore when I am listening to a podcast when I’m painting.

If all else fails then take a break. Give yourself a few weeks off and vege on the couch watching “old media” or reading a book. Use the time either to take a break from the “hobby” side or do something different like converting models etc.

Happy Painting!

1 comment:

  1. Great article, Pete! As one who paints only slightly faster than the decline in polar icecaps, this one really grabbed me. I think that part of my problem is a new(ish) family and the responsibilities that come along.
    However, a lot of what you have said is stuff that makes sense; finding ways to motivate yourself are probably the biggest challenge. I have found that the five-projects-at-a-time approach works best. That way as you get bored of one thing, jump to another until that get a boring ... The only problem then is ending up with five or six armies all in a state of semi-completion!