Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Why painting challenges rock

Seems like my Soviet units are like buses - wait for one forever, and then two arrive pretty much at the same time.

Blame the Guild forum for this. They (like many others) run a series of painting challenges. In addition to an annual challenge, in which you pledge to produce quarterly results in a chosen theme, there are shorter, focused painting challenges on themes set by the forum admin. At the end of each challenge, forum members vote for the winners. Small prizes are awarded to the winners, and all those who entered get recognition of their efforts in the form of "campaign medals" that get displayed on their forum profile.

I have really started to enjoy entering these challenges - as it encourages a more "completionist" (is that a word?) approach and discourages my ADHD hobby tendency. Once I enter or pledge to a challenge, I seem to make more of an effort to get the project done.  Yes, its a bit strange that I hold myself accountable to a bunch of strangers in a remote corner of the web, but I see it more about making a commitment to myself to get something done.

Also, because I know my hobby time is limited, I forces me to think very carefully before each challenge as to what is achievable, and not to over-commit. Fewer over-ambitious projects get started, and therefore fewer get abandoned put aside as my interest wanes. And with that comes a true appreciation of the scale of the lead (and resin) pile that has accumulated in my hobby room. With a more conscious awareness of how much I can paint, I have become more careful and more selective with my purchases - fewer impulse buys of miniatures that are doomed to stay unpainted.

Now, there is no way I am ever in contention for any of the prizes  - the standard of painting by the prizewinners is way beyond my skills. I count myself lucky to get a vote or two each round. But that doesnt mean that its a process only for better painters - there is a good spread of skill levels and all entries get positive feedback and encouragment. Why the Guild rather than other sites that run challenges? I guess its because it has a good overlap with my current interests - the entries are predominantly of WW2 miniatures, but entries outside of that interest are treated with the same respect. It also has a good sense of community, and is independent of any wargames company. (There are multiple sponsors - mostly individuals, but also a range of manufacturers.)

This year my annual challenge pledge is the continuation of the deliberately broad Africa/Italy/Balkans WW2 in 28mm project: at this stage mostly my South Africans in Italy, and their opponents, but I can see by the end of the year a potential to shift to the East African campaign.

The shorter-term themed challenges I hope to use to chip away at the lead pile, and get units painted that otherwise would linger beyond my interest in them.

The downside I guess is that because of time limitations, I have found myself taking shortcuts with builds: in some cases small details that I would have normally corrected were allowed to stand. Not sure if this is all bad. Maybe it will cure me of my tendency to get bogged down in the details.

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