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So I have been struggling with painter's 'block' for quite some time now.  I know everyone has been there - you really want to paint but sitting at your painting desk you have no motivation/inspiration to get started - so I am wondering what things have worked for people in getting past it.  Also has anyone found a 'trigger' that causes it (for themselves of course - I'd imagine there are as may 'triggers' for this as there are people in the hobby!)

 

Myself I think I have actually found a possible trigger that leads me into not wanting to paint anything.  When I see posts either here on my facebook feed (Reaper Miniatures is about the only business I allow to post things in my newsfeed) of these beautifully painted and based miniatures I am, at first, in awe of the skill required to get these results - I truly think people who can paint 2" high miniatures so that they look like they may get up and start walking around as some of the finest artists out there and Reaper seems to attract these experts in droves. My next reaction is often the realization that I will never even come close to the results these painters get - my style is to roughshod and I paint solely to bring miniatures to RPG games (or the occasional miniature-focused board game).  I just want them to look decent but I find my self demoralized as I see these works of art.  So for the last few weeks I have avoided looking at anything in the 'Show Off' forum and turned off following Reaper on fb. 

 

And something miraculous happened 5 nights ago.

 

I picked up a paint brush and finished 2 miniatures I had stopped working of 7-8 months ago.

 

And I have been painting every other night since then.

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I think we all run into that from time to time. I KNOW that I do.

 

My thing is: When I compare myself to "some of the greats," of course it is going to make "a normal person" look "bad."

 

I've said this before - I play guitar, and one of the guys who inspired me the most is Eddie Van Halen.

 

I've played for 15 years, here and there. I sound NOTHING like EVH. I will NEVER be able to play as well as EVH, so when I compare myself to EVH? Of course, "I suck."

 

What I forget to consider a lot of the time is that EVH probably plays roughly 12-16 hours a day. He has been playing for over 45 years.

 

If I stopped writing, and taking pictures, and playing guitar, and video games, and hanging with friends? I might be a better guitar player.

 

They say that when you dedicate 10,000 hours to something, you become a pro at it.

 

There are 8,736 hours in a year. Every second, non stop...and you still aren't there.

 

Lets break this down into sections of 40 hour weeks (average work week.)

 

Thats still 2080 hours a year.

 

So, to get to 10,000 hours, you would need to hone your craft for roughly 40 hours a week for 5 years.

 

Assuming you can spend 2 hours a night, that is still 14 years you would need to dedicate to it.

 

When I look at my own stuff and don't compare it to anything? It looks fine. It's great for tabletop. I get compliments on it from my friends who can't paint. I get compliments here in Show Off. People seem to like what I am doing, and I am pleased with the result. That is what matters.

 

If you are trying to be "the next great painter," and are already dedicating this much time to learning, then continue on your way. If you are just a normal person, then take each miniature, each brushstroke as one more to your way to greatness.

 

Grats on picking back up the brush. It missed you, and you missed it - ultimately, if you are happy painting, then just keep going. :)

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That's awesome Hellcow.  I am glad your back to the brush.

I paint a few hours a week, and it feels like I paint all the time.  I know that I get impatient with glazing, and that I feel most comfortable with 1-3 coats before changing the color so there is a limit to how skilled I can become and still enjoy the process.  I have a friend who thinks of minatures like fractals - He  had been working for 3 hours on a hat, and could give every part of the mini could that much attention. 

 

Still I can strive to get better - and I do with each figure.  Bones gives me tnghe luxury of saying, well I am done working on this guy, I will do it differently, better, next time. Next up - using a magnifying lens to do better eyes. 

 

 

good luck and happy painting. 

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My painter's block is primarily a lack of time to work.  My day job is gobbling up 10-16 hours a day, six to seven days a week right now - and I'm exhausted.  When I manage to get any commissioned painting done at the end of a work day, my primary motivation is the fear of a looming deadline.

 

The Egg 

Edited by Egg of Coot
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When I have painters block I usually try to make myself paint by telling myself I'm just going to put on one color on one figure tonight and then stop and do something else. Sometimes that is all I do; but more often as not as soon as I put on the first color, I find myself starting to think about which color I'm going to do next, and maybe I'll just paint that on too...and so on. Soon I'm five colors in and anticipapting the chance to go back and finish the figure.

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Great replies everyone!  Keep 'em coming!

 

@Galladril - you have described my situation to a 'T'.  I constantly was comparing myself to others who have dedicated far more time and skill building to the hobby than I have.  I can say I painted miniatures for 30 years - if you ignore the multiple years long gaps in there.  It really is more like 12-15 'active' years (as in painting a couple of dozen minis a year - yes I'm slower than molasses in January!)) for a handful of hours a week.  Like I said though it has helped me a great deal to just not look at other peoples finished work (I still read tutorials when I want to try out something new).  To stop comparing myself to the greats out there.  On its own my minis do look good, even to me, so it really is just a matter of focusing on myself.

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I get painters block all the time but I don't worry about it much.  I just go do something else until I feel like painting again (and really, I have too many hobbies with not enough time to indulge them all!).

 

One thing I have found to help is to keep a painting blog and upload a WIP picture every week (although I have missed some posts when I get really busy).  Even though the blog is not something I publicize, I still find that posting effectively the same picture every week makes me want to put paint on the model and get some progress.  The mind is an odd thing.  :wacko:

 

In terms of looking at painted models by other people - I don't think it reduces my motivation but I've never tried avoiding looking at pictures to test it.  I only paint to a tabletop quality and have neither the time nor aspiration to improve (this is why you never see me posting pictures in the show off forum - show off doesn't feel like an apt label for anything I paint  :;): ).  Ultimately, I think my lack of aspiration to move beyond tabletop quality is why I'm not bothered by the fact that everybody and their dog seems to paint better than me.

 

The other point to bear in mind is why I started to paint mini's in the first place.  Miniature painting was recommended to me as a way to help reduce stress.  The idea was that the mini, being as small as it is, requires total concentration so for that period of time - you get to ignore all your worries and problems.  Naturally, this doesn't actually solve the problem leading to the stress but at least it gives you a chance to cool down.  I suspect that this also impacts why I'm not bothered by other people painting better than me.  Ultimately, the very act of painting in itself is helping me regardless of whether other people paint better than me or not.

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On the comparison of one's self to masters, children do it best.

 

Children want to do it, period! Whether they realize they're bad at it or not doesn't matter. It's their creation and they're darn proud of it. They compare themselves to no one and they seem pretty happy about it. Be it miniature painting, drawing, cooking, hammering nails in a board, or a rock collection from pebbles in the driveway.

 

As adults, we think the masters or professionals are at a level most of us will never achieve. And in many cases, it's absolutely correct. Then you realize that the masters have invested an ungodly amount of time into their craft to reach that level of result. When you read that a show winner took 100 hours to achieve, you take a step back to tell yourself "No way am I putting in that kind of work on a single mini. I could paint a dozen minis in the same period." So that's what we end up doing, and during that time, we may have become a slightly better painter.

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I don't think there's an artist alive worth their salt who *hasn't* looked at their own work and said "Arrgh".

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Personally I just keep my 1st mini on my table. Look at it look at my current mini, ok its not that bad. I also have a figure that I can apply a base coat or clean for the days I'm just not feeling it. That way I'm still feel I'm moving forward

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Coincidentally, a friend on Facebook and someone who's painting I admire, posted something similar in that he goes into bouts of depression due to comparing himself to pro painters and completely fails to see how really good his own painting is.

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I haven't picked up a paintbrush since before ReaperCon (April) & right now I don't see that changing anytime soon. Just no desire to want to paint something. My other creative hobby, scale models, last time I picked up a kit was in July perhaps? (Well not including the stuff I had to clean off the table earlier this month). I'd like to get back into those as I have a belated birthday gift for my son that I need to start/finish.

 

Just no oomphf to do anything these days. As most people have said it'll come back just when I have no idea.

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If I have too many open projects on my painting table, it will affect my drive.  For this I just force myself to get the miniatures painted.  That act usually lets the block disappear, as I can concentrate on the analytical process of painting instead of the creative process.  Armor is armor, no need to get fancy.  Skin is skin - basecoat, wash, highlight.  No need to worry about freehand design, just give the cloak a little weathering at the bottom.  I think the creative pieces of my brain get a little break, and then begin speaking when they're ready ("no, that muddy color isn't quite right . . . add some yellow ochre . . . now some more shadow . . . some gray stubble would look good on his face").

 

Ultimately, the paints aren't going anywhere, and the miniatures certainly aren't evaporating.  They'll be there when I get back around to them.

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I have struggled mightily in the past and present with painters block. Sometimes I feel like I cant paint for crap.

 

I use that time to watch tutorials. I even allow myself time to take breaks because I usually come back to it.

 

And usually I'm pleased to see I've improved in the interim.

 

One of the most important thing I've heard recently was by Ben komets. I'll paraphrase him: "it is vital to finish everything because when something isn't finished there is still an excuse leftover to avoid criticism."

 

it's no nonsense and not equivocal in meaning. But it's true and that's probably why I felt so defensive when I heard it.

Edited by czebas
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Anyone who slopbs paint on a mini is an artist.

 

You're doing something not many people do.

 

So be proud of what you do and you'll improve over time.

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