Putting Paint on Plastic

July 27, 2020

As I was writing up the description for this Saturday’s Socially Distant Miniature Painting, I noticed myself actively avoiding a phrase that I’ve used many times in the past: “Join in with other local painters.”

I then recognized why; for a newcomer to this hobby, that phrase could feel terribly daunting. “Well, I’m not a painter, so I can’t exactly join in with other painters.” It’s like if I’d said, Join in with other local pole vaulters.

We’re often held back by the sense that we haven’t earned the right label to participate. We won’t be up to snuff.  We don’t fit the bill. Idioms.

(Side note: if you are interested in painting miniatures and you want to skip to how to actually get started painting within the next day or so, check out our Newcomer’s Primer here)

I worked as a copywriter for a couple of years, writing press releases and marketing emails and the like for eight hours a day, every day. At the time (and to this day) I had aspirations of writing published novels, so in my head, I was not a writer—even though all I did, day in and day out, was write. The same is often true for folks who run their own blogs, or who spend an hour journaling once a week. The crazy, hard-to-admit truth is that if you write, you’re a writer.

The same goes for “cooks,” “photographers,” and yes, “painters.” Many of us have an internal block in our heads that tells us we have to meet so many metrics of talent and commitment before we can even label what we’re doing as more than pitiful prep-work. And too often, that feeling that there is a mountain of prep-work to climb is what stops us from ever starting.

The truth is, You do not need to be a professional before you can take pride in your work.

Everything is a scale. This is especially true in a hobby that we’re all doing because it’s a good way to express our creativity and build a fun skill. There is definitely no room for crippling self-doubt, because the first thing you paint will be better than everything you painted before it, and the next thing you paint will always be informed by the experience you’ve gained. Although I’ll be the first to admit that it’s scary to take it on good faith that I’m gaining experience without a little bar telling me how much I gained, and that I’m 1,521 experience away from my next level.

In painting minis, as in many hobbies, the biggest hurdle is just to start putting paint on plastic (or metal, or resin). Once you’ve done that the first time, you can control the amount of time, energy and research you put into the hobby from there.

Plus, I haven’t even touched on the painting community itself. Everyone in this community was “not a painter” at one point or another, and every single one of us is THRILLED when we see someone new deciding to jump in. There is no competition here. No game to be played and won. We’re all just here putting paint on plastic.

So, Congratulations—You’re a Painter if you want to be. Welcome in!

(I know, nothing here actually helped you actually, literally start painting. Everything you need to know, from supplies to first techniques, is covered in our Newcomer’s Primer to painting miniatures.)


Andy B

Andy B is our Master of Events and Online Wizardry, and that's why you see his picture at the bottom of most posts and events! You'll see him and his beard at all our locations, often with his nose at a computer, creating pages just like this one. His favorite games include The Grizzled, Guild Ball, Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle and Legend of the Five Rings.

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