Today, I have painted with such a lack of comparative skill, you would think that I was a beginner.
Okay, admission time: at the moment, I don’t really enjoy painting my models anywhere near as much as I should.
There, I said it out loud. Man, that feels good.
Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do. I love building models, I love writing about them, I love displaying the results – both online and in my display cases – but the physical process of painting the damned things, that bit I find less than fun.
I have no real idea why this is so and why, when almost the entire modelling world sees this as the ‘best bit’, I find that the mere thought of it, often sends me into periods of introspection and self-doubt that is very difficult to get past. Today, was a good example of the problems that I often face and why, building more than one model at a time, is very bad for business…
I’m currently working on two models for work, with a third in the wings so to speak that is a much larger, private commission. All three are deadlined and all three are being finished in a time scale that is way too short, even for someone such as I that is used to building models very quickly. The sum total of this workload is that I’m finding myself moving between three different scales, three different genres and three very different kits and that is not only confusing, it is reducing my focus to almost zero.
So this morning, cognisant of the fact that two of these need to not only be built, but also painted and written up by the end of next week, I set about painting the basecoats onto the smaller of the kits, an Airfix 1/72 Beaufort and a brand-new Tamiya 1/48 Nashorn. Nothing difficult there: simple colour schemes, basic paints and though some planning was needed for the vehicle’s interior and plenty of masking on the aircraft’s exterior, they are finishes that I’ve carried out hundreds of times over the years. As I began, you would think that I had never done it. Not once. Zero. Zilch. Nil.
Today, I have painted with such a lack of comparative skill, you would think that I was a beginner. Every single step has had me second-guessing my technique, my materials, the steps I need to take and the tools that I have used to apply the paint. Honestly, you would think that I was painting these two models wearing welder’s gloves and goggles. I airbrushed with more dexterity when I was 15 and that is no exaggeration. They look, awful.
So now I’m sitting here, typing this in the hope that by reflecting on the day and then writing down my feelings on it, I will come to some conclusions as to why a process that should be straightforward, has been anything but. It may be that my work has been disturbed by the lack of broadband in the house over the last few days. Working in silence is never the most pleasant of environments (it reminds me way too much of working in an office); that’s possible. I wasn’t really as prepared as I normally am for the jobs that I needed to do and in the case of the Beaufort, I changed my scheme midway through construction and then only discovered after paint had been applied, that the flaps were the wrong pattern and so needed to be amended. Yes, I know: how about paying attention? It could be that I decided, against my far better judgement, to try some new ideas out on the Nashorn and now I’m not sure whether I like the way it looks, or not. Whatever it was, today I painted like a drain and now I’m wondering how to improve the way these models look, whether they are really okay, or in all honesty, if I should just pack up building models altogether and go and stack shelves in the local supermarket, instead.
Modelmaking is as much about confidence as any other pursuit and my work, both for myself and for jobs that pay, is as much a victim of that fickle mistress as anyone else’s. Much like a sportsman that has convinced themselves that they are going to lose before that enter the field of play, I can talk myself into a bad day in the office before I ever pick up an airbrush. Today may well have been one of those days. I woke up unsure of what I was going to do and the day progressed, that lack of confidence built along with my frustration, and the result was a foggy head and two sub-par paint-jobs.
When I finish typing this, I’ll go and make a hot drink, eat a few chocolate biscuits and then take stock. I may not be fully happy with the resulting models, but I don’t have the time for self indulgence and flagellation, the editors both needing to see something that the readers will enjoy over the coming weeks. And this is where my experience comes in for what it is worth. Being a professional is often not about dealing with situations when things are going well, it is working them out when then start to go south. My job now is to deal with the issues as I see them and then complete the models to the best of my ability – such as it is!
Tomorrow will be another day and no doubt I’ll have a change of heart and the work will be better. Who knows, I may even enjoy painting a little more and not see it just as a hurdle that I need to cross, on the way to completing another model. Yeah, maybe I can do that.
See you next time.
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