I’m guessing you’ve probably stumbled across several (if not hundreds) of lists of things that can help your miniature painting that involve paints, brushes and all the sensible things that are actually involved in miniature painting. They’re often very useful and informative, so there’s no real point in me doing another one of those lists here. But, what if I told you there were things that you can do to help improve your painting and enjoyment of painting that have nothing to do with brushes and paints? If you called me mad, you’d not the first one to do so, and though you may be right, I’d say you were wrong here. Here are my 5 tips that will help you to paint from beyond the hobby.
I am about as far from a gym bunny as you can get. More of a couch elephant, actually. But I do lift weights. Not big ones – but weights big enough for me to (and I immediately apologise for using this term) feel the burn. By doing this, it tightens up all the muscles in my arms, and makes them stronger which makes them steadier. After a little while doing this, you will feel things tighten up and as you paint, you’ll notice how much steadier you are with both your brush hand, and the hand you hold the mini with. Obviously don’t try and paint immediately after lifting weights as you’ll be wobbling all over the place like a jelly on trampoline that’s being bounced on by couch elephants, but if you give it a bit of time, you’ll eventually see the results.
Ditch the Caffeine
Speaking of wobbly hands, and without wanting to sound all preachy about it, but you should probably drop the caffeine. Again, this will remove a little tremor from your hand. A few years ago, I developed a somewhat dramatic intolerance to caffeine (panic attacks are a hoot) and so switched to decaf (still love me the taste of a black coffee). The main benefit to this is of course not feeling like I’m going to die all the time, but another benefit involves the steadiness of my hands, and also, my energy levels. While caffeine gives you an initial hit, it burns you out faster, so if you like painting long into the night, ditching it can help a lot. I do have the rare Irn Bru, but that’s part of my heritage so allow it.
Go To Art Galleries & Museums
This may seem very obvious to some, but it’s always worth reiterating. When they reopen after lockdown, go and check out every museum and art gallery you can. It doesn’t even matter what’s on really. Inspiration is everywhere and whether you’re looking at Raphael or Rembrandt, Blake or Banksy, you will gain so much from seeing how they applied their paint, how they framed their subjects, how they work with light… all incredibly useful. And in museums, you may find inspiration in weaponry and armour, but you might find a new way to paint wood while looking at a Chippendale (no, not those ones), or a new way to paint glass while admiring a Steuben. Again, Inspiration is everywhere.
Go On Holiday
And leave the paints at home. While painting everyday is a great way to get good, everyone needs a break from time to time. Another one for when we come out of lockdown; go away. Doesn’t matter where. As with above, you will find new things that inspire you from different foods to foreign soil, from sandy beaches to streets you’ve yet to tread. Then, when you return in a week, you’ll be rested, full of ideas, and raring to get painting again with a head alive with new sights to interpret through the bristles of your brush. When it’s safe do so again, go see a bit more of the world.
Have Another Hobby
Warhammer can be a bit, how shall we say, “all consuming”? There are rabbit holes to get lost down, and then there are 40k rabbit holes, the depths of which are so low, even the Duardin couldn’t mine them. Have something else in your life to balance things. Read books, collect stamps, play football… just have something else because if you let yourself drift under those tides you will find yourself drowning beneath pressure, resentment, disassociation and a one-dimensional existence. I’ve been there, and the way to get out is to have something else you can turn to to help you deal with the times when the grimdark gets a bit too grim and dark. Take up knitting, pick up some watercolours, bake a cake… just have something else.
So those are my tips. I hope they are in some way useful, and I hope they lead to a more enjoyable hobby for you too. If you’ve got any other non-hobby hobby tips, let me know in the comments below. Until then, Onwards!