I was inspired to post some thoughts after reading Henry Hyde's post this week discussing the perennial problem of "lost mojo" or as I would describe it "painters block".
Just like in any artistic pursuit, writing, composing or painting we are all susceptible to self doubt, disillusion and a total lack of enthusiasm about something that many of us would consider a passion. I don't use the word passion lightly, I even include it in the title of my blog; and it is probably worth considering what that word describes
Most definitions talk about a strong and barely controllable emotion, or an intense desire or enthusiasm, and if the mountain of lead most of us have stashed together with all those new and shiny models that we just had to have is any indication, intense desire pretty well defines a big part of our hobby, or as my wife would say "little boys and their toys". Still, I like to nurture the little boy and reward his playful nature now and then, but am conscious that he lacks discipline and self control that the adult me has to apply now and then when I feel his pester power at work and his gnat like powers of concentration.
I think there lies the issue when it comes to applying ourselves to a commitment to work at something that can take time and very often frustrate the hell out of that little boy, or little girl, in all of us. Let's not forget that our hobby is about having fun. We all of us spend a lot of time, often at work, often doing what we need to do to put food on the table, but our hobby is different and it is there to meet the other needs in our life and I would suggest if fun is not part of that equation then we need to find something else to do with that precious time.
Regular followers of the blog will know that I am a keen advocate of the painting aspect of our hobby in the full and respectful knowledge that not everyone is. However given that our hobby requires painted miniatures in one form or another, otherwise we would just go and play board games, it rather seems to me that we have to engage with this aspect of the hobby in one form or another. Of course we could just pay someone else to paint our figures and if the funds are available, why not? However I guess, like many of us, funds are finite and money spent on paying for painting can't be spent on building the collection; and like Henry, I and many others are of that school that thrills in the painting and bringing to the table a collection of figures that carries our signature of turning them from exquisite fishing weights into painted metal warriors. In addition, if we want to play big games with lots of figures, and Napoleonics definitely falls into that category, we will probably need to get painting.
If we don't get control of this strong emotion, the frustration at lack of progress can at best see months slip by with little momentum and having to relearn lost skills and knowledge when we finally get back to it or at worst leaving the hobby and trying to distract oneself with a substitute only to never completely lose the bug and wind up coming back to our first love many years later often doomed to make the same mistakes as before. We all know friends who have had that experience.
|The recently completed 54e Ligne three battalions of a twenty four battalion project and no time for block!|
I would totally endorse the practice of getting into the habit of putting in an amount of time we can commit to on a regular basis to paint. That could be half an hour three times a week or an hour and a half every evening, time permitting, whatever fits our schedule. The key is to keep doing it until it becomes a habit, and the manual suggests that it takes about a month of repeat behaviour to form a new habit. Bad habits as we know are very difficult to get rid off, so why not reverse the psychology and use that built in unconscious self discipline to develop a habit that will reward us over time.
Oh and the other reward for doing this is, like anything, the more we do the better we get at it and if we can bolt on the odd extra skill set now and then our work will get better and we will develop more satisfaction with it. That word "satisfaction" is important because there in lies another mental reinforcement to keep up the habit.
There are plenty of books and stuff on the internet to help learn better painting, with short-cuts using washes and dips to turn out good looking units in half the time.
|My son Tom's recently completed Roman Auxiliaries took a bit of time but progressed continuously throughout his degree year. The new casualty figures inspired Tom to press on and get these done|
I too keep a painting note book and copious PDFs stored on the IPad of other peoples work to remind me what I should be doing or to inspire me to try out something new, and there lies another mental strategy to encourage the work. The inclusion of a new figure or two into a unit that varies the work from that done previously can really excite the need to come back and work on the project further.
Don't forget our hobby is multifaceted in that we have the history to refer to, with all the reading and battlefield/museum touring that that implies and the inspiration to get back to the painting desk to bring form to the imagination those activities can engender.
So in summary my thoughts are that we are working with a strong emotion that needs to be managed with discipline to channel the passion into a productive habit of a little and often to avoid the frustration and disillusionment with something most of us can't walk away from anyway. We just have to find the fun in what we are doing. The last thing to try is to start a blog and record the progress and use it to help commit to the work and feed off of the enthusiasm of others. I really enjoy talking to fellow wargamers on this blog and others and it inspires me to produce new work and more stuff to talk about.
Keep at it Henry, feed the passion and find the fun.