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Tiny Tin Men :: Archives

Getting More Painting Done

January 5, 2005 5:50 PM - Posted by Robartes - Category: Painting

Quite a while ago, when this blog was still young and fresh, I wrote about what motivates me to paint, and followed it up with a post on my painting station. I have since come to realise that the two posts are related. Moving from a fixed place to paint to a mobile painting station has contributed more than anything else to increasing my painting output of late.

This is somewhat counter to intuition. In many painting guides on the Net, you will find the advice that a fixed place in the house to paint at is quintessential, for a couple of reasons, one being that otherwise there is too much setup time before painting, raising the lethargic inertia barrier one has to overcome to start painting. A second reason is that in a household involving small children and pets (we qualify on both accounts) you need a place apart for your painting and miniature stuff, so that you can keep it out of harm’s way (this works both ways: your miniatures will not be mangled and you will save yourself trips to the ER with a child having eaten one or more of paints, brushes or miniatures).

Obviously, having a mobile painting station you need to set up before starting to paint is anathema to the above two points. So why do I paint more frequently now that I have mobilised my painting situation?

On the one hand, the second reason stated above is void in my case; I still have a space in the house — in the cellar — where I keep all of my stuff, and where I do the “dirty” work like flocking bases or cleaning up figures before priming them. On the other hand, the setup argument is still valid: to paint, I have to go into the cellar, bring up the painting station (precariously balanced on one hand — this is bound to go wrong someday, sending my paints and figures tumbling across the stairs) and set it up in the kitchen (which in winter involves running an extension cord from the veranda to get power for the daylight lamp I use). This takes time. I nevertheless find that this does not bother me at all, for some reason.

So, again, why do I paint more since I’ve set up the mobile station? I think it has to do with the fact that there is less of an urge to paint non stop. When you paint at a fixed location, getting up to do something else is more of an interruption than my current situation, and you feel an obligation to sit there and continue painting. In a hobby activity, any obligation to do something is a bad thing, and subconsciously, one starts to avoid that situation (or I do so, at least). In this case, one starts to avoid going up to the wargames room / painting closet / whatever to paint. Not a good thing.

With the mobile station setup in the main living room / kitchen area, I do not feel bound to it, and I can easily get up, and do so regularly, to go check something out on TV, or talk to my wife, or do whatever else strikes my fancy, often even while still holding figure and brush in my hands. I think it is this feeling of ‘liberty’, combined with the two factors I stated in the earlier article, that has resulted in my increased painting output over the last couple of months.

To quantify this: my Flickr account gives me a nice way of gauging my figure output — in the period July 2004 - December 2004 I have painted 42 figures (more or less), which comes to about 7 per month, or one figure every 5 days or so. This is my highest output since I started painting back in 1996-1997, and I was a single Ph.D. student with lots of time on my hands then.

As a quick aside, I’m having a week off work now, and I find that, paradoxically, I do less painting these days than during a normal work week. There must be an element of decompressing after work by painting that’s playing here.

Anyway, that’s it for now. Comments are, as always, welcome.

PS: the title of this post is a play on Getting Things Done, the umpteenth book on productivity and time managment that nevertheless is generating quite a buzz on the Net.

Comments on this entry

My current painting station is a fixed setup, in my wargaming room. I actually prefer it that way. It gives me a reason to go up to my gaming room and spend some time there. Also, being in the middle of all the gaming stuff actually gives me inspiration, and can easily get out reference pages (I keep a binder full of photographs of painted miniatures from all sorts of gaming magazines).

Also, I usually have a ‘battlefield’ setup, so when a figure or a base of figures is painted, I immediatly put it on the table to see how it looks ‘in action’. Maybe this is because I really want to play with the toys, and I never really painted to a very high standard in order to participate in painting competitions.

January 6, 2005 1:27 AM - Posted by Phil Dutre

I like the inspiration angle - having played in your wargames room I can easily see where the inspiration comes from.

I must say that I no longer paint as if each figure would have to win a prize in a painting competition. I guess I’m mellowing with age, but I like the fact that I can now finish a figure in less than an hour, and while it will not win anything, I am still quite happy with the result (see the sidebar to judge for yourself). Compare that to the 4 hours or so I spent on the Celtic general I took to the Crisis painting competition, and I know which I’ll take for the majority of my figures.

To bring this back round to the subject of the post, in the new house (if it ever gets finished :) ) I’ll have a dedicated wargame room (basically the entire attic, as at Phil’s), and I’m sure I’ll experiment with painting setups again.

January 6, 2005 10:29 AM - Posted by Robartes

I’m with you Bart. I also have a large permanent room downstairs in the basement. However, my wife does not like to see me disappear for the entire evening. So, I now have a painting station and light that I keep in my liquor cabinet. I put it on the dining room table and paint there so I can keep my wife company in the evening while she reads or does cross stitch. This is actually working well for me as I think in terms of hours, I’m painting more now than ever.


January 6, 2005 10:33 AM - Posted by David Black

So, I now have a painting station and light that I keep in my liquor cabinet

Now that’s a painting setup. Let me see… Lagavulin, Bowmore, paint, Laphroaig, brushes, … I can see this work :)

January 6, 2005 11:12 AM - Posted by Robartes

Yeah, the only problem is that all the OTHER contents of the cabinet end up being far more appealing than painting yet another company of US Airborne!!


January 6, 2005 2:44 PM - Posted by David Black