Yes, it’s a horrible title, Paintvember, but it did capture my imagination and as a result of a challenge issued on the Painting and Sculpting facebook page, for once I joined in one of the social media challenges. I normally steer well clear of such nonsense (I’m talking social media challenges – not painting), regardless of how worthy the cause, so no moustache growing, abstaining from booze, chucking ice cold water over myself or any of the other mass madness that goes on. This was simple, just commit to painting, sculpting or modelling for 30 minutes a day for the month of November and post your progress up on the facebook group page. It seemed like a good way of focusing on my hobby and it would be interesting to see just what could be achieved if I spent some time everyday doing some painting.
To be fair, it wasn’t a great stretch, I paint for a short period of time on most weekday evenings but usually have at least one evening off, if nothing else than to actually wargame! The weekends can be mixed. In the summer, there is plenty of other distractions and even on rainy winter weekends, there are things to do and people to see, meaning that my hobby is put to one side.
So what have I learnt?
The first thing was that it turned what can be a solitary part of the hobby into more of a social occasion. Social media can be useful when those contributing are not only giving encouraging feedback but also showing what they are painting as well. I looked forward to seeing how my facebook chums were progressing with their projects and the skill and variety of projects on show was certainly inspirational. Getting a few likes was heartening and helped to keep me focused.
Batch painting is ideal for this sort of challenge. It helps that I have a work area that I can leave in a mess and know that it wont be disturbed. So if I am working through a batch of figures I can easily find just 5 minutes to get a bit more colour on a figure. I think that this becomes more difficult if you are working on a ‘masterpiece’, one figure to a high standard or trying to paint a larger model. When I was working through my Highlanders, I had a set sequence, Flesh, Hats, Boots, cartridge case, jacket, bread bag, water bottle and so on. So I always know which colour I would be blocking on the next model.
The 30 minutes a day (minimum – I often did more!) does keep a project moving and so even when I thought that I might stall or wimp out of the challenge, the small goal of just paint for 30 minutes meant that I picked up my brush and did some more. The ‘Elephant’ was eaten a spoonful at a time!
It helped that I had a couple of projects on the go at once. As well as painting the Highlanders, I was working on a new batch of movement trays for my collection. So if I wasn’t in the mood for painting or if I needed more than 30 minutes for a stage, I could switch from painting soldiers to the trays. I think that having a couple of different projects on the go at once is quite useful but would suggest that they do need to be different. Perhaps a scenery piece alongside a unit of figures is a good mix.
The challenge also focused me on to the question of when could I find 30 minutes to paint as opposed to the oft reached conclusion that ‘I haven’t got time to paint today’. As a result, I have been grabbing short periods of time in the morning and evening to get my session in. The nights when I might have succumbed to watching the idiots lantern have been replaced with something more productive. It’s taken most of the challenge but I now have a completed Battalion of Cameron Highlanders, which in themselves have completed my representation of the 8th British Brigade at Waterloo, complete with their own new labelled movement trays!
I dont think that I will be quite so relentless with my painting over the next 30 days. Sometimes, a break can be refreshing – absence makes the heart grow fonder – but I hope to keep the attitude of looking for opportunities to paint rather than finding excuses not to. As a final thought, social media, when it is social, has been a great help to my hobby. I have been fortunate enough to part of groups that have either provided me with encouragement with my hobby or inspired me by showing me what can be achieved. So no commercial links below, just a few of my favorite facebook groups!
So, finally, a big ‘Thank You!’ to Alfonso Oclaf for posing the challenge. I’ve never met Alfonso but I am grateful for his idea and for helping me to get my Highlanders done!
And of course!
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