Out of painting motivation? You are not alone. Lucky for you, I know all the tricks to get it back in no time!
Some days, the hobby sounds more like a chore. You are not inspired with the model you’re painting, real life get’s in the way, or one of the other thousand thing… Everyone’s been there.
Back when I working solely as a commission painter, I dug into motivation quite a lot. Not having the luxury of just pushing back my painting time or working on a different project meant that I had to figure out ways to kickstart motivation.
And this is a tricky subject, because what works for someone might not work for anyone else. In fact, a lot of people are outright disbelievers of the whole motivational concept.
My favorite thing about deniers is hearing them say: “That’s just in your head”.
Well, where else would it be, really? Of course it’s in my head… you need to trick your own brain out of its own way and let you hobby!
So here are some ways that I found work most of the time.
Here are 3 of the main motivation killers, and ways to combat them!
1- The Boring Stage
What is it?
Ah yes, the dreaded boring stage of every Work in Progress miniature. Every miniature has one. Every painter has a weakness, that stage where they just can’t have fun doing.
Mine is usually metallics. I can do the primer, base coat and 6 highlights on a unit of Space Marines, but once I need to paint the gun and other accessories silver, it will take me 3 days.
This is most common when doing repetitive tasks, like assembly-line painting, or if you’ve been painting the same faction in the same scheme for a while.
How to overcome it?
It’s best to see this problem like a long road trip. Because it is a journey of sort, where you have to go through this chunk of road, the boring part, to get to your destination, a painted miniature.
Well, the best way to overcome the ‘long and boring’ stage is with movies and podcasts. The longer the better.
This works based on what is often called the MTV myth. When the MTV network played music videos, it gave the viewer a chance to change the channel every 4 minute, because a song would end, and they would retain their attention a lot more with a 30 minute program.
Road trips work like that because you’re reminded of time constantly, every break between songs.
Well, putting an idle movie in the background of what you’re doing, or tuning in on a podcast you enjoy, you get an hour or two of ‘shutting’ off your brain from noticing how much time you’re spending in the boring phase.
2- Feeling lost, or you hate what you’ve done so far
What is it?
This one is pretty self explanatory, but sometimes, you just don’t feel it.
Either you tried a new technique and it did not work, or the model is plain old boring to paint. Fact is, every time you see this model on your desk, you feel your motivation drain away.
It happens to the best of us. We’ve all been there.
How to Overcome it?
My favorite method when you reach this stage of can’t-stand-this-model-dness is to start on a new project.
This is a two-pronged approach for motivation.
The first is that it takes your attention away from the model you can’t stand, and hopefully you enjoy this one more, and are reminded, even just subconsciously, that not everything in the hobby sucks.
The second, and much more interesting thing, is that humans are programmed to finish what they start. It is a weird psychology thing, but it’s why games reward you for completing the most mundane tasks but never before offering you a new goal to play towards.
If you start it, you will be drawn to finish it eventually.
3- Sitting down and starting
What is it?
Sometimes, the problem is simply that you can’t be bothered to sit down and paint. Much like laundry, once you have to do it, everything suddenly becomes o-so much more interesting.
Either you sit down, but clean up the desk, shelves and browser history 3 times before you put on a single brush stroke, or you simply don’t even show up at the desk, because everything seems more tempting.
How to overcome it?
This is truly the commission painter’s bread and butter trick, because working from home can be a nightmare without motivation.
My favorite trick with this is the morning playlist. Or gym playlist, if you’re inclined that way. Pick a playlist that becomes The Painting Playlist, or make one if you fancy yourself some mad skills on the 1s and 2s.
The great thing about this is that it works with any style of music, as long as it’s upbeat and energetic. Leave the power ballads for Emo Nite Tuesdays.
The trick with the painting playlist is to play it every time you sit down and paint, even when you are motivated and feel like you don’t need it. Over a very short period of time, your brain will associate that song with: “Time to paint buddy” and you will be good to go.
You can do a similar effect with motivational videos, but in my mind, nothing quite works like music. And it’s very easy to fall in the rabbit hole of motivational videos and watch them for hours without actually accomplishing anything.
And if you must know, my go-time paint song is Vanessa Carlton’s One Thousand Miles. I have zero shame.
Perhaps the most important part about motivation is this: If it works for you, don’t try and fix it.
Except crack. Don’t do crack.
Feel free to leave a comment with your own favorite method, it might help the next reader.