Now this is a very special article.
An article about a conclusion. A decision. Something that healed me. Healed my creativity.
I had to analyse what makes me go sad while #happypainting in the last couple of years.
I can tell I am already over the point, I am healed. It took me quite the while though.
I write this up to inspire others to give it a try and to open up to the idea.
What kept me down: an unknown pressure
It was pressure I put on myself. A weight on my shoulders that had no reason to exist and take so much influance on my happiness. I usually start a figure project if it has a strong call and yells at me: Paint me! Paint me! I usually do not paint other stuff anymore. If my heart does not feel the urge to create something I should let it be or I get unhappy during the process. Of course as miniature painting is also my job I do have to follow deadlines or client’s wishes, but I even learned to be frank about these and honest to myself before I do something that might turn out to not be a win/win situation for both, the client and me.
So first important rule:
Be honest to yourself. Do not just buy figures, because they are new or you have the urge to buy something to make you happy or a better painter. Usually, if they are not limited, they can be bought when you hear their call. If the call is strong enough you will get them, no matter what.
What speaks to me there I called painter’s instinct and it is not only speaking to me on decisions what I am about to paint. More about this later.
First step to healing: Analysing the pressure
Well, easier said than done. When arriving in the studio, dressing up for painting I usually know – in the meantime – what I am looking forward to paint on. This was different in the past. I had the feeling I must finish something I started or I failed if it is not happening in a certain time frame. Also the internet can put pressure on yourself, subconciously. So many great painters outthere, so many different styles, so many great figures, so many great blendings, so many great ideas. Actually it is a good thing that is happening right now: Our passion is growing and spreading, but sometimes you got the feeling that you are staying behind. You are not improving as fast as others, or just do not understand that one technique somebody explained in his patreon, no matter how often you look at it.
– Why do you feel that way? What keeps you from happy painting?
Accept your very own journey as a painter. Some do it as a hobby, find a certain time frame a week to be able to paint. Others are professionals and do nothing else. By comparision you think your own improvement is not going on fast enough while the internet is rushing on. Here is the deal: Calm down. Improvement just arrives with training and people have different painter personalities. Some understand faster, some have to wait a little longer for their “click-moments”. I know what I am talking about as I am teaching hands on since over a decade and meet many painters.
-You adore the freehands a certain painter did?
You think you never reach that level?
You get sad, depressed even when you look on your painting table. Did you ever think that this person you look up to just might be on a different journey as a painter than you are. Did you take in consideration that this painter might have studied russian icon painting at university and trained his skillset on this specific level to a form of mastery. Did you go the same road? No, well, then calm down and paint on. Train your very own skills. If you want to learn a certain thing or grow it on, put focus on it for a while.
– Analyse your very own painting motivation.
Why do you paint figures? What is the reason why you paint up miniatures? Ask yourself. Take your time for it. Is it competetion with others. Is it to shut of from your daily work, to relax, to meditate? Is it for no reason? Is it because you meet up with friends? Why do you sit down and spent hours on small creations? I recommend reading the comments on this article. You might also want to check back with the ten most important rules when it comes to miniature painting.
– Know about your decisions and accept them
If you decide to paint full armies or models for gaming, well it is a decision. Yours. It is nothing bad on it. You just decided to paint a full working army that pleases the eye. It works as a full, maybe not on a single model. There are painters outthere who can combine their painting patience and passion to a full army. I am not one of them. I decided to paint single models mainly as I love the spark of a newborn idea, but sometimes on the road I do lose my project motivation.
It is my decision now to push through or put it to the side to wait for my muse to return. Not anyone elses. Even it is a client of mine. If he wants the best outcome from my paintwork, he has to be patient about my passion. I can not force passion and the will to create when my muse is out of the building. Of course this is much easier if you just paint as a hobby.
– A short story about decisions, Basketball
I am quite lucky to was able to lose some weight in the last couple of months due discipline on food and working out. My second big passion in life is basketball. I was not able to play it in the last years as I just was too heavy and my job as a miniature painter did not help me with this. Sitting down to paint, sitting down to write emails, sitting, sitting, sitting. I learned to paint standing now for once in a while and I am much slower in answering my emails. Well, back to basketball.
I was planning to have a knee operation last autumn as I had my first knee issue when I was seventeen, several more followed. Being heavy in body size did not help either. I build my whole self-emplyoment around it to be prepared for it and as I walked into the hospital that one day with my calender under my arm I was lucky. Lucky that there was a young doctor who told me the truth: I got a knee like a sixty year old and he did not believe that I still can do what I do with it: Cycling, swimming, hiking, playing basketball once a week and else. He just said it is confusing as my knee is a mess and I should barely walk without pain. The initial plan was to do an angle correction of my upper leg to make my right knee side on the right side less pressured. Plan was to use the left inside of the knee to balance and to keep me away from a knee prothese for the next couple of years. Well, he was honest and frank and I appreciated it. He said there would always be the risk that the operation might go wrong and I need the artifical knee earlier. He told me that the angle they could do would not make a big difference in my case. He said I should decide myself. I decided against it. I decided for losing weight and build up my muscles in my legs.
During my last years I was at 125 kilos once, now I am at 92 kilos and I love to play basketball every week on wednesday with friends. I am much faster, much stronger, much more focused. I just love it. It gives me back so much energy for my daily life, for my work, for my activities, for my moments of rest and everything else. I am able to live both my passions: Miniature Painting and Basketball. I thought this would never happen again in my life and this made me very sad in the last couple of years. Very.
If I look back how I played basketball in the last years it was always like that: I could not make a decision: Should I pass the ball, take a throw, dribble on or what not. In fact most of the time I lost the ball. Now all this doesn’t matter anymore. I just follow my instinct. Am more brave, just do what I my basketball instinct tells me. And I love it. Of course I fail. I do lose the ball, but not because I was not able to make a decision. I do fail because others are faster, better or more focused in a certain moment or just luck is not on my side, but on the other hand I do not regret to decide something. If I lose the ball, or miss a chance I do learn something for the future. Thanks to Michael Jordan who again came back to my life as one of the biggest inspirations I ever had and now enjoy again.
It is the same with miniature painting.
Make your decisions, follow your instinct.
If you like something, keep it, improve it. If there is something you do not like, analyse it why you do not like it, instead of asking fiveteen other painters for feedback. Of course you can ask others, but in the end all that matters is your very own decision. The more options you get by asking others the more confused you will be in the end. The answer is in you already. You just have to follow it with self-confidence and accept failure as a part of learning.
If you want to train a technique by another painter, train it. Take everything you like from it and put it in your very own toolbox. Be open, there is no golden rule on what is good or bad or right or wrong. You decide what this is for you. Just for you. No one else.
If you want to paint for competitions because they motivate you, do it. If you do not, paint for yourself and the joy of it. Follow your instinct. See back with things in retrospective on what made you happy and what not and change things to be more happy with yourself. Not only in miniature painting, but also in life. Important is the decision. The answer is already in you. You can take time to think about it, but there are these moments in life and in painting where you just have to decide and take a decision or you will end up in thinking about thinking all the time. Been there, done that.
If you feel pressure – unhealthy one – from a certain project, an idea or high expectations you got to understand for you if that pressure is healthy for you or your drive in learning or not. Then decide what to do with it. Going down a road that might make you unhappy or deciding for another personal path. Decisions.
Try not to aim to paint like somebody else who is on a complete different journey than you. Learn from others, share and enjoy happypainting. Be respectful to others and accept their journeys. Learn to paint as the person you are. Painting and working with colors and emotions and techniques is something so indiviual that it should not frame your individiuality nor creative spirit. Set it free. Of course some are more controlled and like the way of controlled painting more than others, while others roam freely and paint with their big toes. Be and paint who you are. Learn the basics, improve them, but be able to step back from only technical aspects if you see you do not have a big learning curve anymore – maybe you got to step back several steps to improve again. Follow your instincts with self-confidence.
This all lead me to: Project Ping-Pong
When I arrive in the studio I am always surrounded by too many work in progress projects in all kind of different stages. Instead of being angry with myself or putting on pressure on myself I just follow my instinct and pick the work I am in the mood for. Sometimes I like to slap a wash on top of something or paint with my fingers, sometimes I do like to paint a blending on female skin, sometimes I just want to build a base without a reason. Decide color choices from your instincts and from what you have learned or seen by others. You decide and I bet if you do start to decide, after a while you will feel a freedom unknown to you.
This is what happy painting means to me. It does not mean I am always happy.
It does not mean that happy painting keeps me from learning or working hard. It does not mean happypainting is limiting your very own progress or the goals you set for yourself. I even do happy painting when I am sad as I use my emotions to paint with color. Happy Painting mainly means for me that I am in control of what I do, what I like, how I like it, why I do it for, what I decide and where my own journey as a painter goes.
Sometimes the internet takes this away from us, due all its fast information and the many tutorials outthere. On one hand it is great to see our passion grow to new heights. People sharing their experiences much more and many more are able to save time on their way to learn. So thanks to everyone who is teaching and spreading his knowledge. May it be professionals or hobby painters, this does not matter as long as we share and respect eachother as this is what makes our whole community bigger, stronger and massive. The only issue I see – this is also the reason why I do not teach in video format – is that often things are thaught like “monkey see, monkey do!” with not providing the teaching on how people think for themselves and learn by themselves. To all teachers outthere: Try not to teach robotics or you will have robots in the end. Our creative passion is much more than this.
in the end it is you who is sitting down with a brush in hand and an idea that you want to breathe life to! Be inspired, inspire others, but do not be scared of yourself and your journey as a painter.
There are no wrong or right decisions, there are just yours.
Keep on happy painting!
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