Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Portable Painting Setup : Perfect for Lunch Breaks!

It's been three weeks since my last blog post, and for that, I apologize.  However, rather than go into details, how about I give you guys a quick write-up on how to fit more painting into your busy lives.

We're all getting busier and busier as we "grow-up"... we take on more responsibilities at work, at home, at school, and with the family.  Heck, we even spend more time on various hobbies other than painting!  All this cuts into our precious painting time, and that means we either get less painting done, or we start speeding up our work (and letting the level of quality slide as a result).

Personally, I've got two jobs, a wife, a kid, and various other committments that usually come first before painting.  I've been forced to look for little blocks of time where I can shoehorn a good painting session in (usually for parents, it's "The Golden Hour"... the hour just after your kid falls asleep for the night, and you furiously get as much done as you can before exhaustion overtakes you and you fall asleep yourself).  Weekends often present the odd bit of time to yourself as well.  However, I've found that sometimes these short blocks of time often happen OUTSIDE the home.

For example, my work place gives me a generous full hour for lunch.  If I'm quick, I can scarf down a bagged lunch in about 5 minutes (or I can quickly grab something hot from the cafeteria in 15), leaving me with ample time to work on some models.  I've also got a quiet little space all to myself where I can set up, paint (or build / convert), and then tear down before I have to return to work.

So, how can you do the same?  By putting together a small portable painting setup.

First of all, you have to have reasonable expectations.  Unless you're The Flash, you're not likely to get a ton of painting done in that kind of time.  And I'm not the kind of person willing to cut corners on my paintjobs... I try and get every model done to competition level (otherwise I'm not pushing my skills to their limits and beyond).  Therefore, I usually set a short, easy goal for myself.  Usually blending just one area of a model, or perhaps a basecoat over several models at once.

I also have to budget some time for the setup and tear down of my painting, because when I'm done with my break, I still have to do my regular job in that space (the one I get paid to do).  That means you can't afford to do things like set up lights, lay out your whole paint and tool collection, and unpack an  airbrush / compressor too.

So you need something minimal.  Just a few pots of paint, two or three brushes at most, something for your wash water, a few sheets of paper towel, a palatte of some kind, something to carry your model in, and a compact light.  Something like this:

This is a small pistol case (you can find them at any firearms store, or even in the hunting section of an outdoors or hardware store).  Inside, I pack my miniature(s), a few pots of paint, 2 or 3 brushes (with caps on to keep the bristles from being bent out of shape), some medium (for blending), a little bit of brush soap (gotta keep those expensive brushes in top shape), an LED lamp that I got at an outdoor supplies store (if it's bright enough for camping, it's usually bright enough for painting), my wet palatte (this is the Privateer Press one, but notice that I replaced the crap packing foam for a proper art store wet palatte sponge), and a leftover cottage cheese tub that I can use for my wash water.

I have access to plenty of paper towels at work, so I didn't need to pack any sheets inside my kit.  I also carry a bike water bottle with me most of the time, which carries enough water for wetting my palatte and filling my wash tub.  If you're particularly paranoid about leaving a mess, you can lay out a few newspapers over your painting area first.

Packed up for travel, it all looks like this:

A small assemble that can fit inside a backpack or other bag quite easily.  And I would highly recommend you put that pistol case in a bag before carrying it around... I'm quite fortunate that I work in a police station, where two thirds of my co-workers walk around packing heat anyway, but your work place might not be so understanding.  And if you plan on flying with this, I'd replace the gun case with something else entirely...

I also recommend you label everything.  If you're travelling with kit, it's much more likely you're going to misplace or lose something.  It's very possible that your missing stuff will make it's way back to you if your name and contact info is on it.

Not bad, is it?  I've taken this little bit of kit everywhere... to my parent's place, to my buddies homes, to the local game shop, on road trips, and even on holidays.  I might take more paints and models with me sometimes, in which case I bring a separate box for them, but that's only if I think I'll have plenty of time to work on my models.

I'll often pack something similar if I only plan on building or prepping some models for painting.  In that case, instead of paints, brushes, etc., I'll bring needle files, clippers, glue, zip kick (a glue accelerator), hobby knife, etc.

Again, this is a small kit, suitable for rather short sessions.  If you're the type of person who would rather work on some models than read a newspaper or surf the Net on your iPhone, then this kind of setup might just work for you too.  Even if you only get 30 minutes of painting in, over time that adds up to quite a bit of work accomplished.  And, of course, we all know that the more painting we get done, the more practice we get under our belt, and the better we get.  Not everyone gets to paint for a living and do it 40 or more hours a week (been there, done that)... some of us get paid to do something entirely different (along with benefits and a pension), and have to fit our painting in wherever and whenever we can...

Now that I've put my paints away, I guess it's time to get back to work :

I love my job.