Musings of a Hobby Hipster; Hakuna Matata…

Painting an army without making a list…

A while ago I talked about my three perfect projects for 2021 and, what might have struck some readers as odd, was my Late War Soviet project AKA the random collection of stuff.

Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t advocate buying and painting a motley assortment of models but, as we all know, these are not normal circumstances. 

Gloriously muddy Chuchills

The reason that I say I wouldn’t advocate it is because, without the focus of a list in mind, you can demotivate yourself. What I mean is, painting towards the goal of, say, a 100pts list give you a measurable target and goal – something to aim for and some focus to place your time and your hobby dollars (euros or yen) into.

KV-8 tanks were the first unit that I finished

But, if you already have a painted army there is something liberating about painting just… stuff. No pressure on the army, no need to ponder “what is good?” just to enjoy the hobby and to create something that you want to. 

Well, I gave my mind a thorough rest by plunging into a chemical analysis. One of our greatest statesmen has said that a change of work is the best rest. So it is.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in Lippincott’s Monthly Mag, February 1890

I think everyone knows – and I do mean everyone, including the slightly Quasimodo-esque postman that has to haul hobby goodness to my door and the Halfords checkout assistant who I am on first name terms with now and is ready to scan the can of grey primer before I’m even at the checkout – that I have been painting up my Team Yankee Iranians.

By the way, I’m painting Iranians.

Whilst there are nice opportunities for variety within the Iranian list it can still be mo…not…in…us so being able to break that up and refresh the painting palette with something new and different is required to stay on target with that project. You have to break things up. 

T-34/85… because why not?

So why not create a list and then paint what you need to in order to complete that list? Well, this is as simple a thought process as needing to break up a big painting project – I just wanted to paint what I thought was cool. Painting to a list means that I would have evaluated options, streamlined choices and made sure that, even if it wasn’t a hardcore competitive list, that I was making sound point-for-point choices. 

Liberating myself from a list meant I can paint what I like. This Soviet project is going to be all about the look – the broadening of painting horizons and the use of new techniques and products. This army is about the journey, not the destination. 

Iconic Soviet tanks – the T-34/85

I think everyone in this wonderful hobby of ours will have the infamous pile of shame in some way, shape or size and having these breaks in the relentless pursuit of a painted list will actually speed up your main project. 

Another benefit that I have recognised early on is that taking this approach has helped me tackle some of the painting chores that I loathe. For example, I hate painting tracks on armoured vehicles. Hate it. But what I have realised is part of the problem was volume. 

I remember painting my Egyptian Fate of a Nation IS-3 tanks and I took on all 9 at once to get them done and ready for a game. This is all well and good but it meant spending a pretty substantial amount of time painting tracks… and it killed my mojo. Completely derailed me from my progress because the thought of then taking on and painting the ten T-62s I had was crushing. 

The crushing weight of IS-3 tracks

Painting without the pre-disposition of a list means at the moment I am painting a maximum of five tanks at a time. Five. That is usually one, or two, tank commanders and five pairs of tracks. Nothing more. And I’m getting it done without feeling burnt out. Knowing that having painted five tracks, one on each side, turning and heading back towards completion is marvellous – on the IS-3s that felt like a marathon, whereas three, or five, Soviet tanks feels like a brisk walk.

Soviet Bulldogs finally coming together

Anyway, I’ve probably rambled on long enough now on the benefits of just painting a force – next time I might be back with looking at exactly how I am painting them! 

Well, that was my painting without purpose thoughts, we’ll see where I get to this time next year as to whether it has worked or not – I’ll be back soon with a cup of single-origin, cold brew flat white artisan coffee with more thoughts from the hipster’s beard. Hakuna Matata everyone.