Welcome back, dear readers! This week, another of my friends from across the pond has kindly offered to write an article for the site. Confusingly his name is also Matt, hence me using his Instagram handle in the post title.
Getting the mojo up to do some painting sometimes can be tough. Inspiration may not be forthcoming, you may be getting to much thrown at you in your day-to-day work/life situation, so what can you do?
This is quite a long one, so make a cuppa, rev up some crumpets and marmite and settle in.
Spectraltalon, over to you sir…
“Hi everyone, Spectraltalon (Matt) here!
I’ll start off by saying I’m slow with getting anything done for my hobby and I know I’m not alone. This is something that I know can be difficult to crack but I’ll try and talk about:
- my approach to changing this.
- what I’ve learnt trying to change.
- the next year or so’s focus.
A brief history of my hobby brain.
I got into miniatures and painting around the age of 7 or 8 in the glorious days of Rogue Trader and way before the awesome 2nd edition 40k. Ever since I got into the hobby, I’ve always had the ADD with focus and what I want to do, but that’s understandable considering what gets produced and how lush all these minis have been over the years.
However, this has never helped me get things done and I’ve always flitted back and forth between different projects never really doing anything. Like everyone (or mostly everyone), life happened somewhere in my mid teens onward and I dropped out of the hobby. So I never really addressed my lack of focus or motivation in those early days and rarely completed many things at all.
Skip forward to getting back into the hobby around 3rd edition at some point in its life span – I still didn’t address focus.
Fast forward to 8th edition and again picking up a paintbrush and I still hadn’t cracked focus. What I had cracked, was having more disposable cash and ability to buy mostly anything I wanted. Add into this mix real life and responsibilities of job, children, schools, holidays and it’s easy to see how things can get derailed.
Over the last year, this has bothered me for a number of reasons:
- I still don’t have a force or army to show for my spending but plenty of grey plastic.
- I haven’t improved my own painting ability because, I’ve not focused enough to complete projects.
- I haven’t played enough games using what I’ve painted.
And thus vicious cycle has ensued.
So what am I going to do about this?
Thinking about this dissatisfaction more and more, I decided to start doing the opposite of what you might expect:
- I tried not to beat myself up,
- Loosened my mental grip on how I paint and have experimented more,
- Started to apply AGILE* thinking to my hobby.
*AGILE is essentially a way of working to complete tasks in a structured and well organised way. I work in a digital environment so have learnt this methodology quite thoroughly.
How am I faring so far? Let’s take a look…
Well, so far I’ve relaxed my brain a bit and not got as annoyed I haven’t spent time on hobby, completed things or played a game in something.
This is going well so far (most of the time).
It might seem small but mental obstacles are often the hardest to overcome. Motivation being one of the hardest to overcome.
When I have painted (and whether I’ve shown those things on my Instagram account or not), I’ve definitely experimented more and tried to reprogram my brain and the way I paint. For example, the way I learnt to paint was essentially, complete all the base coats in one go, then do all the 1st level highlights and so on. Now I just complete bits I want to focus on, like the armour on a space marine or something.
This for me has worked out well.
I’ve also watched a lot more videos on painting and looked at a lot of pictures to work out what others are doing and how.
Linked to point one, I’ve tried not to compare myself to anyone or their style. (This can single-handedly crush any hobby mojo, especially if you’re just starting out on the path of the painter. It’s ok to look at other paint jobs for inspiration, but do YOU and know that the road to being a better painter is a long, but rewarding one – Ed)
Whilst it’s totally awesome to look at box art, there’s no point in me getting disheartened I can’t make my mini look like the Eavy metal team on the first pass. Instead, I’m looking at my strengths and thinking about how to get there in a slower incremental way.
Last and by no means least, point 3. I’ve not done a huge amount to work toward this yet but that’s because I’ve only recently started to think about it a bit more. With the imminent arrival of 9th edition I’ve decided to focus myself (in a fairly loose way) against getting a force or army together within the next year using this methodology.
These tasks or targets have been as simple as things like:
- assemble and undercoat my marine half of the Dark Imperium box by end of July.
- finish a kill team I’m working on by end of June.
Simple and seemingly small actions that will bring satisfaction when completed. Alongside this, I’ve also started to think about organising these tasks in a digital way with a simple “to do, doing and done” work board. Sort of AGILE at its most basic.
Over the next couple of weeks I’ll probably look at setting this up using a tool like Trello. Low fi and easy to sort out. There’s nothing like moving a task to the done column on a work board.
Lastly in this space, and at the time of writing this, I decided to not just build everything and paint it but build what I would want for a force.
I’ve started to go back and look at whether I need to paint all of the Dark Imperium marines or instead, just paint the intercessors from the set and build out a force around that core in preparation for 9th and the new assault troops coming. Something like, x2 intercessor squads, a smash Captain, a tank and so on.
Where am I at now and what have I learnt?
With everything I’ve talked about, I’ve decided that I’ll try and be clever and build or paint tactically to get results.
I’ve decided on an army for 9th, I’ve bought some bits and pieces like a codex (yes I know it will probably be updated) but most importantly I think I have a plan to move forward.
The other thing I’ve recently started to apply, is painting for just short periods. An hour a day or every other day yields results. This I have found incredibly satisfying, so I’ll be pouring more into this sort of effort going forward.
I’ve learnt that letting go a bit and small steps yields real satisfaction.
I’ve learnt to rely on, or focus on my strengths, instead of listening to the doubting voice and then not doing anything.
So, in the famous words of Yoda “so you have chosen death” or something like that…
The next year
Within the next couple of weeks, I’ll have finished one of my Kill team projects and this will have given me a clearer idea of how I want to paint a force for 40k.
For example, how fast I can complete a mini, what standard I can get it too and be happy and so on.
Tips for success, or something like that…
-Focus on one thing
-Write a list of what you want to achieve
-Be selective of what you surround yourself with and what work you want to aspire to. For example, don’t just follow any old dross on Instagram, really focus and look for the quality being put out by some phenomenal artists. Yes, I know I’m not one of them. (Again, to support the painter, but also for reference material, but not a yardstick on how YOUR painting should be, as mentioned earlier – Ed)
-Don’t care what others think, including yourself.
-Basically don’t second guess yourself and just do things.
–The journey is the fun.
On this point, I don’t really care what my Instagram account puts up or how curated it is. I don’t chase followers and really use it as my own periodic diary of things I’ve been doing or am interested in.
That’s it for now. Hopefully someone might find that useful. Good luck in getting that grey plastic primed.
Wow, that was quite the epistle there! Some really great points put forward on how you can take steps to take your hobby by the horns and own it. I’m looking forward to seeing how Spectraltalon progresses using this method. Seeing what he’s been posting recently on his Instagram, looks like he’s making some great headway!
Thanks to Matt for this article, and for you lot there taking some time to visit and read up! I know leave you today with some Bill Murray wisdom: