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Tis the season for resolutions! As I mentioned in my last post, it’s a time of year when we tend to look back on what’s come before, and think about how to improve ourselves and our lives as we look ahead. But at the same time, January first as the beginning of a new year is just a made up date on a made up calendar. It’s not even tied to a particular solar or similar phenomenon. So if you don’t feel like reflecting or making changes right now, don’t! Goals for change are just as valid on a Tuesday night in August as they are on a Monday or January first. More of my most successful life changes have come on random Tuesday nights than from start of the year convictions.
Photo by Crazy Nana on Unsplash.
If you are in the mood to make some changes in your life, I think prioritizing your hobby and artistic pursuits is a very valid avenue to pursue. It’s also a rare area where we can resolve to do MORE rather than less. Instead of (or along with) eat less, spend less, work less, etc., consider resolving to paint more and share the hobby more. I have some suggestions for specific goals, but before I get to that I want to talk about a more general approach to resolutions and self-improvement goals.
We tend to concentrate on the end result when we make goals – lose X pounds/kilos, paint a mini a week, save $50 a month. It can seem sensible to focus on the ultimate goal of the action/change you’re undertaking. But with a lot of these, we don’t control enough factors to guarantee constant success in the end result. If you have a month where your car needs service and your sink explodes and it’s just plain impossible to find $50 to put into savings, you ‘fail’ at your goal, even though the events that occurred were beyond your control. Instead I recommend framing resolutions around the element you can control – your behaviour. If you make an eating plan and exercise schedule your goal and you follow those, you are successfully meeting your goal even if you don’t lose exactly the amount of weight that you think you should have. You are building healthy habits and also a healthier frame of mind.
On the hobby front, an example would be instead of resolving to paint X figures per week/month/year, resolve to paint for a certain amount of time each day/week/month. This gives you the flexibility to work on something more complex, experiment with new techniques, or take as long as you want to paint a high level diorama for a gift or contest. As long as you get your butt in your chair and paint, you are succeeding at meeting your goal. DaveKay suggested this in the comments on my last post, and says his productivity dramatically increased when he reframed his goal from an end result goal to an activity based goal.
I had a similar experience with working on traditional art. I was working on it in fits and starts, but was unfocused and often had days where I wouldn’t feel ‘inspired’ or I decided I was just too tired and it was easier to just go browse Facebook. Inspired by a ‘deer’ friend, Morihalda Silversage, I joined a challenged to do some kind of artwork every day for a month. I kept going after that initial month, and have now been doing art on a daily basis for over two years. I have missed only two days in that entire span. There have been plenty of days where I only manage a few minutes worth of sketching, and others where I’ve drawn or painted for hours. But I always do something. It’s been helpful in building discipline, and making me much more accepting of failure. There are a few nice paintings or drawings that have come out of it, but there is plenty of dreck. I’m still very proud of myself for doing it. The activity itself has merit, and the discipline of doing it has merit, and both those things would make it worthwhile even if nothing I had drawn or painted was worth the paper I did it on.
If you do make an activity based goal, it can be helpful to record the activity to confirm that you’re staying on track. This is how I know for a certainty that I’ve done art daily for the past 25 months and that I have missed only two days. I use an activity tracker chart in my bullet journal, but there are also lots of app options and different sorts of planners. Or you can go old school like in this picture. (Photo by rawpixel from Unsplash.)
With that out of the way, here are some suggestions for positive hobby goals for 2019.
You can get more done painting for 30 minutes a day than you will get done if you wait and wait for a day when you have a good few hours to sit down.
Watching videos and reading forums and Facebook tips is a great way to learn about new materials and techniques, but you will never really learn and improve until you sit down with some brushes and paint and practice.
Be More Daring!
Try something that scares you a little – a more advanced technique, a more complex colour scheme, a different genre of figure than your usual, or a fancy basing element or technique. This is a great way to mix things up when you feel in a rut.
I’m not sure why, but a lot of us are scared to paint the ‘good’ figures in our collection until we can paint really well. We hesitate to try new things so we don’t ‘ruin’ what we’re working on. Maybe you don’t want to experiment on rare collector’s items, but a great many good quality figures are easily available at a reasonable price. Don’t punish yourself painting old lumps of lead or green army men – practice on high quality figures you like that stay in catalog, like figures from Reaper Miniatures or Dark Sword Miniatures. Also an acrylic paint job on a figure is easily added to, painted over completely, or stripped off if you want to adjust a paint job from the past or start over from scratch. Apart from conversions and the like, little we do in the hobby is irrevocable. You will learn more and more quickly by taking risks and failing than you will by only painting with the techniques and colours you feel are ‘safe’. Playing it too safe is one of my biggest regrets from the period of time when I was learning to paint.
Enter a contest! Even if you feel you have no hope of winning, pushing yourself to paint at your highest quality can be a spur to try new things and get better at deadlines.
I’ve been sharing this photo since New Years 2017 on my Facebook artist page. Next post I’ll give an update on where I am with the figures in the photo.
Share Your Hobby More!
Miniature painting can be a solitary activity. That’s one of its strengths, but it can also make it easy to lose enthusiasm. Connecting with other fans helps rebuild your excitement, and is a great way to learn and contribute.
Volunteer for miniature related events or companies at a convention. Convention event staff and miniature companies can always use more help running games, doing demos, with painting activities, and in lots of other ways. This is just as true, or more so, for small local conventions as it is for big national ones.
Talk to your local hobby store about doing a demo or starting a regular painters’ meet up night.
Offer feedback to your fellow painters on Facebook groups, site forums, CMON, etc. Honest critique is hard to come by and very valuable. There are always new people coming into the hobby with questions about brushes, paints, all kinds of stuff that you might have answers to.
Have More Fun with Your Hobby!
It’s good to push yourself to learn more and do more, but it’s also important to remember what you find fun about this hobby and make sure you do that on a regular basis. Don’t get trapped in a cycle of perfectionism or escalating deadlines.
Happy New Year to you all, and thank you for your visits to this blog and interest in my thoughts. I appreciate it more than I can express.
In my next post I’m hoping to discuss some specific strategies for trying to paint more in the coming year, and ideas for how to address some roadblocks that might prevent someone from being able to do that. I would love to hear more about what has held you back from achieving your hobby goals, and strategies you’ve tried in the comments. This is definitely an area where we can all pool information and help each other!
Links to Figures and People Mentioned in this Post
Previous post with comment by DaveKay with more on how he improved his productivity – https://birdwithabrush.com/2018/12/21/looking-behind-planning-ahead/
Morihalda Silversage’s Facebook artist page: https://www.facebook.com/Morihalda/
Unsplash photo resource – https://unsplash.com/
Tillie the Fighter Pilot by Bombshell Miniatures – http://store.bombshellminis.com/10024-tillie-fighter-pilot/
Victorian Lady (metal) by Reaper Miniatures – https://www.reapermini.com/search/victorian/latest/50327
Victorian Lady (plastic) by Reaper Miniatures – https://www.reapermini.com/search/victorian/latest/80068
Female Mage by Dark Sword Miniatures – https://www.darkswordminiatures.com/shop/index.php/miniatures/visions-in-fantasy/female-mage.html
Noir Occult Detective (plastic) by Reaper Miniatures – https://www.reapermini.com/search/occult%20detective/latest/91013
Noir Occult Detective (metal) by Reaper Miniatures – https://www.reapermini.com/search/occult%20detective/latest/59039