The biggest motivation for me right now is not wanting to field an unpainted army… even in a casual setting. I don’t need a game date to draw from either. Just the desire to complete the project is often enough to keep me going. Also, I always have multiple projects going at once, so I can easily shift gears to a new piece if I need to take a break from something that has become too boring or tedious.
When our group was larger and more active in the hobby, there was a casual competition between all of us to keep up with each other… both in completing the army/team/gang and improving our painting skills. Nothing is more motivating when you see your opponent placing his new nicely painted “toy solders” on the table across from you.
Unfortunately, I have yet to play in a tournament, but I imagine that having a date looming in the horizon, where many people will see my army, would be a tremendous source of motivation.
My buddy Laertes and I were discussing this very topic a few weeks back. We were both looking for some inspiration. Neither of us had played or painted in a very long time, and just the fact we were talking about new and existing projects gave us motivation to pick up a brush. His thoughts on the topic:
I think you have to be playing the army. The greatest motivation to paint is usually an upcoming event: a game, a tournament, something like that. Sure, you can be reading the latest Black Library novel, which tends to motivate you in general, but what I find you need the most is the deadline that itself forms around an upcoming game time. It is much different to think, conceptually, that a new conversion for your Dark Elf Dread Lord would be an interesting challenge, than to consider that you just need to get that unit of jet bikes painted and finished enough to be ready for that game on Saturday. Worse yet, what if you are faced with the dread aspect of having to use Ultramarine models as a proxy for Khorne Berserkers? That is motivation to paint right there!
If this can help one little plastic grey guy attain the ultimate goal of reaching his full technicolor potential, that my efforts are worth it! Cheers and happy painting!