On the one hand, daring to experiment is an unequivocally good thing. Better to try and fail and learn than never try at all. The final flourish in Tallarn’s post is unequivocal good sense. On the other hand, there are some fairly damning things said in and around the piece about people whose priorities lie not with the paintbrush.
I am one of those people, and so this article rankles a bit. I’m not offended, and if you’ve read this blog before you’ll know that I’m not really the spitting-at-the-monitor-in-impotent-nerd-rage type, but I’d like to present a case for the defence, in the form of some exciting case studies in Reasons To Not Paint.
Norbert doesn’t enjoy painting, or at least he doesn’t always enjoy it. Sometimes, sure, he’s mad keen, but that isn’t his default state of being. He also doesn’t like being obliged to do something he doesn’t enjoy in order to do something that he does enjoy, to whit playing games and talking about them. Life is full of obligations already, and Norbert likes his hobby time to be a break from those. I think Norbert has a point.
Painting figures is a mark of caring. So is spending maybe three evenings a week reading, writing, commenting on and contributing to blogs, like Jeremy does. Jeremy is often told that he should spend his free time on painting instead, but honestly? Jeremy likes to write. He likes to theorise about the game and discuss his ideas with people, and he spends a lot of time and effort on doing that, and it does nark him off a bit when people suggest that their way of caring about what they do is better than his.
Evelyn is on a tight budget – she may only get to put together one big kit a year, probably fewer than that, and when she buys figures, they tend to be bargains of a one-time-only nature. The point is that she can’t replace things if she gets them wrong, so if she’s got something she’s not sure about, she’d rather leave it until she is sure than risk messing it up and wasting an opportunity she might not get again. It’s not that she’s scared; she loves to experiment, she just can’t afford to bugger things up, so she tends to leave her nicest models until she’s confident that she can tackle them.
Timothy plays several games, but he plays some games more often than others. His heart of hearts belongs to games that aren’t as widespread and popular as others are, and he does his best to stay fully painted for those. The trouble is, Timmy often needs to introduce people to his favourite game, people who like more popular games and need careful coaxing into new and scary kinds of hobbying. Timmy likes to meet them halfway and play their game, but it’s not his favourite and painting his models for it isn’t really a priority.
Von, meanwhile, is an intermittent painter. His stuff might be good, might be bad, is occasionally awful and once in a while is inexplicably quite good. It’ll never be technically perfect or artistically inspired, but that’s actually okay with him, because he’s intermittent at games as well. He’s a bit frustrated when his favourite game pieces end up with one of his least favourite paintjobs, but he figures them’s the breaks.
His trouble is that he can’t pick projects very well – he picks bad armies for good reasons, or good armies for bad ones. His absolute favourite is overplayed and people whinge about it all the time, which annoys him, because he actually enjoys painting them and playing them. Still, he does care about other people enjoying themselves, and he’ll at least try to paint up stuff that they’d rather play against, but his heart isn’t really in it, and that makes him reluctant and unsettled about most of his miniatures, which in turn makes him reluctant and unsettled about painting them.
He paints anyway, though, despite his misgivings, his circumstances, and what appears to be an emergent set of multiple personalities. Incidentally, he also endorses Flashlights of Fury, and respects Tallarn enormously for having stuck with one army for all these years.