I have finished my Union army! Also, in an even more incredible achievement, I did it in record time!
The slightly smaller Confederate army was bought in February 2012 and completed in December 2012, meaning it covered a grand total of 10 months. The larger Union army was bought in February 2013, and have finished it in May 2013 - barely three months! Have I undergone a three-fold increase in painting speed? Sadly no, but the experiment has provoked a few thoughts on painting, and here are some of my 'insights', as I might grandly call them:
- The Type of Figure matters! The rag-tag nature of the Confederates meant I spent a lot of time hemming and hawwing about them - 'does this brown coat go with those grey trousers? Do those blue trousers go with a black hat? Is this figure too close a copy of that one?' All these variations created a bit of a pain, which didn't happen with the union: blue, blue, and more blue! Bang - job done! Admittedly some armies like medieval ones or irregular forces will always have a variety, but a generally 'uniform' force in the literal sense will have advantages - worth considering at the planning stage, anyway.
- Real Life Matters (but not as much as you might think!) While painting the Confederates, I put my flat on the market, sold it, and moved into a new house - it's fair to say that a lot was going on! However, I don't think that I can really hide behind all that. It had an effect, but overall I think if I'm honest I still had a lot of free time in evenings and so on, but I was put off by the idea I would 'only' get an hour or so to do anything, so I did nothing. I think that even a minor bit of grit and determination would have greatly slashed my painting time.
- Go for Mass! In my Confederate painting I did a base here, then one there, etc. It seemed to go nowhere, even as I progressed! With the Union army, I forced myself to do the whole lot as a big, indigestible lump. Everybody got their shoes painted, and until everybody had that done nobody - but nobody! - got anything else, like their belts, even so much as started. Tedious? Oh god, yes - but I resisted the temptation to split the force up into smaller batches, as I was certain that once I'd done one batch I'd never be able to face a second. The tenacity paid off, as although painting belts or shoes and nothing else was dull, I managed to finish each 'part' before the boredom got too much, and then I was spurred on by the knowledge that I would never have to do it again.
- Focus! Basically, don't get distracted with other things. While the Union army was getting painted, I had my Wars of the Roses campaign, my remaining Anglo-Allied Waterloo army, a potential new WW2 Bolt Action army, and two new Ancients armies swirling around as either 'in progress', 'bought' or 'under consideration.' However, I stuck with the Union 100% through my painting without any deviation - because I knew if I stopped, I'd not restart fr a long time.
- In a word: Momentum! If I was to sum all of the above up in one entry, this would be the central idea. Momentum, or the sensation that a project is 'underway' and making progress rather than 'on standby' and gathering dust, is critical. It's also a self-fulfilling prophecy in a way, for it did indeed conform to how I planned things, with even a little investment in willpower. Now I have the rewards of it all, as I can knock off the Union ACW project off my to do list, and get more done with other things. A real example of how a bit of self-discipline isn't just good as an abstract concept, but genuinely and immediately bears fruit!
Photos to follow shortly. (Right - now to base them up and get to the games table!)