How NOT to Paint

Recently, I've gained a lot of perspective when it comes to the Life-Work-Hobby Balance. I neglected my hobby and left it untouched for a few months, assuring myself it was only temporary, until the most recent ReaperCon in late April. I realized that while I still had a passion for the hobby, my lack of balance in these areas had sabotaged my motivation to paint:

  1. WORKSPACE

  2. TIMING 

  3. INSPIRATION

WORKSPACE

Who in the world wants to paint while sitting on the tile floor, hunched over the coffee table with your neck craned at a 45 degree angle to catch what's left of the natural light coming through the window? Me, evidently. Too often I found I didn't take the time to set up a proper workspace and ended up painting in an admittedly uncomfortable position. I justified it with lame excuses like "I'll paint here because..."

  • "...I don't have a desk to work on"
    • Solution: Go buy one.
  • "...I need to take advantage of the natural light"
    • Solution: Paint earlier or plug in a lamp.
  • "...I don't have time to paint, I just have to fix this one thing" (3 hours later, I'm still painting)
    • Solution: Get real. Respect your space, time, and hobby. 

I learned that making a habit of being uncomfortable while painting led me to shy away from it when I had an extra hour or two here & there. Get the right tools. Paint in a consistent & comfortable space, regardless of how much time you have set aside for it. 

TIMING 

If you don't have time to paint, don't paint. Rushing to get things done in an unrealistic time frame will not yield good results. Bad timing can mean several things-- for me, it means trying to paint 

  • Right after work when I'm all hyped-up (on coffee and/or frustration). Painting is a practice in patience. If you have no patience, the mini will soon be airborne & flying toward the trash while you shout obscenities with a toothbrush in one hand and paint stripper in the other. I'm a perfectionist & a hot head. Not a good combo for zen painting. 
  • When my work-life balance is all screwed up. While I could go on-and-on regarding that matter, I have made several helpful changes to improve that balance that I'll write about in another blog entry.

  • When I haven't planned for it and my painting becomes more of an after-thought. There are a thousand-and-one reasons why I feel I don't have time to paint later in the day (i.e. gotta make dinner, too tired, the place is messy and I'd have to clean first, etc) so I have to respect my time doing what I enjoy and work it in into my schedule. 

While these are my personal weaknesses, everyone has their own mental road-blocks. Find out which are yours and make a plan to avoid them when making time for your hobby.

INSPIRATION

This is arguably the most important of the balancing ideas-- if you're not inspired, you won't paint. If you're not fueling your creativity, you won't paint. If you're painting something you don't like, you won't paint.

In fact, painting something you don't like can be the most crippling. When I bought my ticket for ReaperCon, I was painting a River Troll for our tabletop gaming campaign. When I found out about the painting contest, I thought "Ooh, this is one of the bigger & more impressive miniatures I've purchased, I bet this would be great for the contest!". Wrong. I struggled painting this miniature for several reasons:

  • I couldn't choose a proper color scheme
  • Painting monsters is not my strength
  • I tried to incorporate too many ideas from others on how I should paint him

While it's a cool sculpt, it inherently doesn't photograph well from the front due to the position of his head. In the end, he became a hodgepodge of differing ideas & pressure I put on myself to try and paint what I thought others wanted to see in a contest. As a result, this miniature didn't meet my standards or stand out in any way.

Uru

 

Thank goodness I decided at the last minute to add my favorite miniature Olivia into the contest. I painted her a year ago-- she was the one that ended up winning recognition. Go figure. Lesson learned!

As far as staying inspired & fueling your creativity, it's as easy as bookmarking blogs to other creative & interesting websites and taking the time to check them periodically. In fact, I make it a point to do that on Saturday mornings with my cup of strong black coffee-- but only one cup, otherwise I'll shake when I paint! They don't have to be specifically miniature painting blogs, they can be whatever inspires you-- one of my favorite blogs is a house remodeling blog that gives me great ideas for color & texture application. If you don't want to stare at a computer for inspiration, go outside-- take a trip to the zoo and get some ideas for painting fur. Download a new album that really gets you "in the zone" and ready to paint for long periods of time. Whatever works!

All in all, I realized that I have many opportunities to get my act together before I start painting in order to enjoy & continue in my hobby. If I set up a consistent & comfortable workspace, respect my time and energy, and actively work to stay inspired, I know I'll be painting successfully for many months to come!