If you are a miniature painter, at some point of your hobby life, you will be facing this age-old dilemma: I have so many models to paint but I don’t feel like painting at all! This is a classic example of what is called a “Painter’s Burnout”. Some people get this as soon as they finished assembling their models! They get excited when they take the miniature sprues out of the box. Smelling the new plastic, getting the tools ready, playing some fast beat music; these are all a typical scenario when you just got back from a hobby store. As soon as you’re done assembling the newest addition to your army, you tell yourself “I’ll paint these tomorrow!” Then you look to the pile of models you assembled a week back, a year back, 10 years back. It is a perpetual vicious endless cycle of a hobbyist life. With that being said, how do you keep yourself motivated to paint?
I have been painting on and off for roughly about 15 years now. As any painters could point out, real life and other distractions can and will keep you off of your hobby work bench. While some hobbyist see painting models as a chore, I see it as an escape. It is a very zen-like relaxing experience for me when I paint whether it is for a competition or just to finish up my crew/warband/unit. In my humble opinion, this is one of the key factors determining how often you will have those Painter’s Burnouts. As soon as you see it as a chore/work, you will not want to do it. Your brain is programmed to reject doing “work” especially after a hard day of your actual work at the office.
“I don’t like painting my models because I suck at it.” If I get a dollar every time I heard that, I would start buying GW products at their stores again! Don’t get discouraged by whatever quality of a paint job that you do. Everyone has to start from somewhere. True, some people are more talented than others. Some people are blessed with that artistic talent and you think “I’ll never be as good as that guy”. The key is to realize that you aren’t competing with that person. You are just trying to finish your models. And as cliché as it is, you can only get better by practicing painting techniques over and over. The conundrum “I’m too discouraged to paint because I suck at painting so what is the point of practicing” can easily be thwarted by actually practicing! Malcom Gladwell made a good point when he said that it takes 10,000 hours to actually become a Master of doing something. While this is not literally true, because some people are just born with the talent, I can guarantee you that your first model that you painted will always look inferior to your 100th model; your 100th model will look inferior to your 1000th model, and so on. So keep on practicing!
One of the ways I keep myself motivated is to dangle that imaginary carrot for me to chase in front of myself. I enter as many painting competition as I can, not to win prizes but to keep myself painting! Don’t worry about the prizes, because they are just a bonus (a pat on your back you might say) for a good job that you did finishing your model. Break away from that social awkwardness bubbles that most of us “nerds” are in and get that monkey (the one that keeps saying “your work isn’t good enough for competitions yet) off your back and just enter as many painting competitions as you can. You can start with 1 model in 1 category. There’s a lot of painting competitions that goes around all year long. There are local game store competitions, online forum competitions, and even YouTube painting competitions. All you have to do is look around!
There’s nothing more discouraging than seeing a pile of models, tools, or paint brushes lying around everywhere. Clean up your work area before and after you finish for the day! That way you always start fresh and not feeling cluttered. Don’t put your “To Paint” pile in front of you. Start of small, like 5 – 10 models. Because if you see 100 models that you need to paint, you won’t even know where to start. If needs be, hide those excess models away so you can’t see them. Remember, painting is supposed to be an escape to that zen-like relaxing piece of heaven.
Everyone has their own way of setting things up; their own music, their own placement or organizational method for their tools or even where they place their models. I’m in no place to suggest you to change your ways to get started and you know your work habits better than I do. So set up your things, ref up your engine and get ready to paint!