Maybe the conclusion that I can draw from this stream of consciousness, written as my lunch goes down, is that all of these years I have been practicing, but as with Ian Paice, that practice has been done on the job.
Every day, like many around the world I like to split work up so that I can stop for a lunch break. During that short period of downtime, I tend to sit at the dining room table, turn on my laptop and watch YouTube videos, mostly ones that concern themselves with video games, aircraft and drumming. Today, whilst eating a heady combination of tinned chicken noodle soup accompanied by some Jacobs Crackers and cheese (yeah, I know…) I settled down to watch another drumming video, this time created by the great, Ian Paice. Entitled “My Practice Routine” the video takes us through just that and how these days he really doesn’t practice at all, all of his chops being learned and honed from time on the road. And that got me thinking: when was the last time I practiced my art of building models? The answer? Decades ago, if ever…
Here’s the thing: I never practise building models. In fact, I never do anything that is not specifically for a reason and that reason is always a completed miniature.
And then I started to ponder the idea of moments taken to learn new things, short periods of time working on tiny projects that can be drawn together to create a much bigger picture on more important, actual projects. I came to the conclusion that I’ve never really done any of those things. You see, from day one, 45 years ago, all of my models have really been something that I’ve wanted to complete and time and money, was always precious to me, so the idea that I would spend chunks of both rehearsing techniques that would not result in a finished model, was, if not entirely a conscious decision, certainly a sub-conscious consideration on the path to miniature glory.
Now, having pondered this rather illuminating conclusion for the last few minutes, it occurred to me this may not have been the correct approach and that if I had taken the time to learn new skills and techniques away from actual builds, those that went catastrophically wrong when an idea went sideways, might have been cut down somewhat! Over the years, there have been hundreds of models that have fallen by the wayside, ending up in the rubbish bin of my own personal history, not because they were difficult, not because they were in any way different from the norm, but because I had attempted an idea on one of them that simply didn’t work because my desire to try something new – perhaps beyond me at the time – outweighed my desire to use something else to test ideas on. Oh it will be fine: just plough on regardless! Sometimes I hit paydirt; oftentimes, I simply hit a brick wall, closely followed by the model in question…
These days, I really don’t feel the need to practise per se, but there are areas that I need to improve upon (my constant battle with figure painting being just one) so maybe I really should. With a bedrock of techniques at my finger tips, incremental improvements can be made as actual projects, either commissioned, or for work in print, are completed. Ideas can easily work their way in without a need to spend time that I don’t have on builds that serve no useful purpose, other than as assembly or painting mules. But that hasn’t always been the case. As an aspiring builder, I’m sure that I could have done with time to practise and that would certainly have helped me to develop more quickly. The issue there though was one of ego: I simply couldn’t accept that I wasn’t the greatest thing since sliced bread, even though that was patently not the case and my models, that extension of my soul, were anything more than bang average. When time could have usefully been spent in the practice room, I was far too keen to show off my chops, even if they were lacking and it took some time before I parked that nonsense, slowed down and learned to walk before I could run. Mostly.
Maybe the conclusion that I can draw from this stream of consciousness, written as my lunch goes down, is that during all of these years I have been practicing, but as with Ian Paice, that has been done on the job. My skills have been honed, much like anyone else that does a job and then doesn’t take it home to further improve what they do, as the workday has progressed. It may well not have been the most sensible approach to learning the skills needed, but in the main, it has served me well, even if I have tripped over my laces more often than I would have liked on the path to glory. I think I’m too old to change direction now, so I’ll continue to build models to completion and see where each journey takes me. Who knows, I may still learn new tricks along the way!
See you next time.
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