This is a follow-up from Monday’s post where I commented on this video:

The video said it took 20 years for Mr. St. Clair to paint all of those miniatures. I have no doubt in my mind that, even so, life got in the way.

But at some point, he must have had a routine. Maybe he painted every night for an hour or two. I don’t know. I would really like to interview the guy.

When you’ve 6mm as your scale, you can get a lot of miniatures painted up in a short amount of time.

I know people who can finish about 500 to 600 25mm/28mm miniatures a year. They batch paint them. Like Mike and Mikeopolis.  Nearly every couple of weeks he finishes another regiment or two of miniatures. Much of what I personally see doesn’t get shown on his blog.

I’m lucky if I get a couple hundred a year. Most years, since I started collecting and painting, I average maybe 80 to 100. A lot of it depends on the routine I set for myself and what real life throws at me.

In 2016, I started strong. I got about 80 miniatures painted before August. But in the fall things got too busy, and finished the year paint only another handful of miniatures.

And then there’s Tim from Saskatchewan Canada who painted 1000 28mm figures in 2013. He sometimes paints 1200 miniatures year (scroll down to see his stats). As of this writing, he painted 150 28mm foot in 2017. If you’re miniature painter, Tim’s blog is worth following.

There’s one key attribute Mr. St. Clair, Tim, and others who can finish hundreds of miniatures each year: Focus. 

Last week Merric Blackman had some excellent advice about collecting miniatures:

Be patient. Gaining a good D&D miniatures collection takes a lot of time and money. It’s quite fine to proxy the miniatures you don’t have yet. Just be aware of what you’re getting yourself into; it will take a lot of money and/or time.

And he’s just talking about the roleplaying side of things. Earlier in the post he said he runs three games of D&D a week. I’m lucky now to get one or two games a month.

While he’ll probably never paint up a Napoleonic army, he’s getting his “D&D fix” every week, though he has hundreds of unpainted miniatures.

(Merric’s Musings is another good blog to follow, by the way.)

Again, it’s about focus.

My problem is I want to do it all. I’m tabletop wargamer. I’m a roleplayer. And I want to paint miniatures for both. This whole website is way to mix all of those hobbies together. Yet I’ve made blogging everyday a priority, which of course means that’s time not spend on doing my hobbies.

Being a wargamer/roleplayer/miniature painter (and writer to top it off) is like a multi-classed half-elf fighter/wizard/cleric in AD&D: it takes a long time to level up, any experience is divided among all three classes.

It took me five years and the right paint brush to paint eyes correctly (and I still screw up). It took me awhile not to be such a perfectionist when batch painting “rank and file” troops and to focus my skills on leader types and my fantasy figures. It took reading blogs like 52 weeks, 52 miniatures (especially this post) to shrug off the need to be perfectionist at all, and just get the miniatures painted.

Sadly, 52 weeks, 52 hasn’t been updated since 2013. Mike Mearls (yes, the Mike Mearls) and others moved on to focus on other projects (like D&D 5e, perhaps?)

Which leads me to my next point, and this is something I’ve struggled with for a long, long time: Giving up one thing so I can focus on another.

That, I guess, would the first step to painting 250,000 miniatures: giving up at least one thing. Focusing would the second. 

Mr. St. Clair must have given up something to paint all of those figures: TV perhaps? Spending time with friends? I don’t know.

Tim from Saskatchewan doesn’t talk about RPGs on his blog. Board games, yes. If he’s talked about RPGs, I’ve missed it. But he paints a lot of miniatures.

Most of the wargamers I personally know don’t often play tabletop RPGs.

The problem is deciding what to give up. 

How bad do you want to do X?

(X = painting 250,000 miniatures, running a DCC RPG Campaign, writing that novel, finding your dream job, conquering the world, etc.)

How much of Y will you give up to do it?

The next step, as I’ve learned through the school of hard knocks (despite all of the advice I’ve had along the way), is to see the project through.

I’ve been a great beginner, but a lousy finisher. I like starting new projects.

Based on experience, if somebody you know goes around telling people what they’re “gonna do,” chances are they’re not going to do it. That goes with any project, not just painting miniatures. By speaking about it they’re giving up the energy to do it.

(There are exceptions to this, of course, such as when team members work on a project, or a married couple need to discuss future projects).

I have this vague vision of what life would be like with all of my miniatures painted, armies complete. But I’m not going say anything more.

And I hadn’t intended on delving into my own experiences; this was supposed to be a simple blog post. A three-step process. And now I’ve added a step 0:

0. Have an existential crisis. 

1. Give up things that aren’t that important to you. 

2. Focus on the project. Make it a priority.

3. Don’t tell anybody about it until its done. 

Maybe you don’t need an existential crisis to get started on a grand project like painting 250,000 miniatures. But Mr. St. Clair needed something to calm his mind given his line of work (watch the video to find out what).


If you want create something great, this is best advice I’ve got.