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Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Good Riddance

And so it's done. I have painted my last unit of wargames figures ever. A modest enough effort: just 8 30mm cavalry figures of the Prussian Black Hussars.

Hussar Regiment no.5, The Black Hussars ('The Death Hussars').

The history of their production explains why there will be no more. I started them so long ago I can't remember when it was; maybe a year, maybe 18 months. I have painted other bits and pieces during that period: some guns and their crews, the odd general, a building or two, a tank or two, some aircraft. The hussars themselves I ground out two at a time, sometimes pausing for weeks halfway through completing each lonely pair, sometimes pausing for months between painting one pair and the next. It was the usual story: lack of motivation, lack of interest, other things to do and think about, sheer laziness. But at last the final two are finished and I have decided: I'm not going through that again. I turn my back, and walk away with no regrets. I do not expect or want a renaissance of interest.

Hitting some kind of 'painting wall' is the common currency of any number of blog posts. On the well known Grand Duchy of Stollen blog, the grandly named Heinz-Ulrich von Boffke announced recently he was recovering from what he memorably called his 'painting funk'. I have had many of these and I don't want to experience any more. On the other hand, one can only look on in slack-jawed amazement at the output of some wargamers. Prominent amongst these is the painting force-of-nature known as Olicanalad (James Roach), whose recent efforts preparing for his Zorndorf demonstration game were astonishing in both quantity and quality. This is terrific stuff, but I no longer have the desire to emulate it. In fact, these days I find such efforts rather frightening.

I admit it hasn't all been bad. Like any wargamer, I've done a fair amount of painting in my time, and in the past there were many relaxing hours of peaceful endeavour, as I mentioned in this post from 2010. And of course there was always the pleasure of completion: it was satisfying to contemplate the finished article when it had turned out as good or better than you had hoped for. But in the last couple of years painting has just become a chore. Apart from being fiddly and awkward and time consuming, painting full units is, above all, just so repetitive.

My lead pile is modest enough, and my Poland 1939 and SYW armies are now as big as I want them to be (once the most recent painted reinforcements arrive from the Dayton Painting Consortium). So that's it, apart from the odd bit of dabbling to create one or two new artillery pieces for the SYW, and maybe a German 15cm infantry gun for my 1939 games.

There will be more units, in more periods, I expect; but others will paint them, either financed out of my wages or by selling off a current collection to finance the next. I feel a burden lifting from my shoulders. No longer will half finished units and unpainted figures ruin my peace of mind, making me feel guilty for each evening spent watching the telly or reading in the armchair. I think fellow wargamers will recognise such feelings. They might seem daft to those who are not hobbyists themselves; but never underestimate the significance and consuming nature of a proper hobby. And sometimes one needs to acknowledge that the obsession to perform is not healthy.

And this is where the multi-faceted nature of our hobby shows its advantages. Putting aside any painting ambitions leaves me more time (mentally and physically) for my own preferences: reading about my historical periods, writing rules, improving my terrain, and most of all, getting more games in. It's all good.

The hobby is yours: make of it what you will.

10 comments:

Steve J. said...

"No longer will half finished units and unpainted figures ruin my peace of mind, making me feel guilty for each evening spent watching the telly or reading in the armchair. I think fellow wargamers will recognise such feelings."

Hmmm, I know this feeling well, especially at this time of year with the lovely long summer evenings. Come Autumn I find the desire to paint increases as the days shorten. Or so I tell myself...

Ross Mac rmacfa@gmail.com said...

I've never seen the point of forcing oneself to do a particular hobby activity that one doesn't enjoy, especially if there are alternatives.

Happy gaming.

Capt Bill said...

Bravo, but please don't sell off your 7yw armies! I really enjoy your scenarios. Best regards, bill

Paul Robinson said...

There are times when I feel the same way. But as you also point out there are times when painting is such a good way to relax. You focus on the paintwork and forget the crap that comes with having to work. I'm embarking on my last projects - once complete there will be no more. A hobby can be all consuming so it is important to find balance. I hope you find yours.

Keith Flint said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Keith Flint said...

Thanks chaps.

Capt. Bill - no need to worry. I enjoy the SYW period too much to ever give it up.

Pat G said...

Hear, hear. If it isn't giving you enjoyment or making you money then don't do it.

Keith Flint said...

That sounds like a useful philosophy for life!

Michael Peterson said...

This seems like a great piece of self-awareness and honesty to me. While there is nothing wrong with your painting (those Hussars look very fine to me) if it doesn't bring you joy, the don't do it. As I approach retirement and my eyesight worsens I shall probably make a similar decision one day.
As Ross says. Keep gaming.

Steve J. said...

"As I approach retirement and my eyesight worsens I shall probably make a similar decision one day."

My painting style has had to evolve to take into account my eyesight changing almost yearly at present combined with dystonic tremors in my painting arm. I still enjoy painting but do find it frustrating at times that I can't do what I used to.