I spent most of my free time over the last two days posting comments on pictures for a miniatures contest held by Wyrd miniatures. My motivation for doing this is that the contest sponsor is going to send prizes to random people who post comments on every entry. I am a sucker for prizes.
I also wanted to see what sort of miniatures were on display as a comparison to my own painting efforts, sort of feeling out the competition, so to speak. I'd say that 40-50% of the entries (I think there were about 100 entries in the various categories) were paint jobs that I thought I could outdo, 10-15% were at about my level, and the other 35-50% ranged from quite a bit better than my best to a level well-defined by the phrase, "Holy crap, that is the most amazing piece of painting I have ever witnessed in my entire life!" So, I'd place myself right around the middle of the pack. To get higher in the rankings, I need to learn a few things, most notably the art of blending. I also need quite a bit of work on painting eyes and skin colorations, which sort of goes along with the blending. I think I have enough ability to do well in a local contest, but these internet contests have some brilliant painters in them. I do admire all of the painters in the Wyrd contest for having the stones to put their work up on display in what seems to be a very critical community.
I posted a link to my blog on The Miniatures Page after I finished the Giant. I got a lot of good comments on it. The big complaint about the figure was the shininess caused by my clearcoat. I chose the shinier clearcoat because the really flat varnishes suck out the colors and completely destroy metallics. I have considered covering my miniatures with the satin finish that I currently use and then covering the non-metallic areas with an additional coat of the flat varnish, but I am reluctant to perform the experiment based on my prior experiences with flat varnishes, both the spray-types and the brush-on types.
I have hit a bit of a roadblock in selecting my next project. I have quite a few different Skaven purchased and ready for painting, but I am a bit burned out on rats. I am also worried about the extra rank of Plague Monks I have to paint for my 3000-point list. The original unit was the first unit I painted, and I really can't recall what colors and methods I used on them. I always mean to keep a "painting journal" that lists that sort of thing for the minis I paint, but so far I have failed to do so. I'm thinking about going ahead and painting up one or more of my Warlord armies, even if they are all only half-complete. I'll probably fiddle around for a while and then get excited about a unit or project again. It's always hard to continue immediately after I finish a big project that I'm pumped up about. There's a big rush and excitement as the project is finished, and then a bit of a letdown and some confusion about where to go next.
I will not have time for any miniatures until Monday, though, as I have to begin preparing for my National Guard drill weekend. I should be excited about it because we're going to be shooting guns this month, but I tend to get agitated and nervous about Guard weekend every month. I think it's a mix of social anxiety mixed with performance anxiety. I am not really a stereotypical military guy, I feel a bit out of place in uniform and doing army stuff. And I get nervous about all of the tasks I have to perform for my job. It's quite irrational, as I graduated from Basic Training with honors, I generally do very well in the testing we are required to do every year, and aside from awful navigational abilities I have never really been at the bottom of the barrel in my unit. I managed to do my job and get through my tour in Iraq safely and without placing others in harm, but I still am constantly on edge and anxious about whether I'll measure up during my training. I always expect that it will go away at some point and I'll stop worrying so much, but it's been 6 1/2 years and I still lose sleep thinking about upcoming Drill Weekends.