When does painting = work?

Lately I have a problem: I can’t seem to get excited about painting. The reason is simple: it feels like it’s something I have to do, not something I want to do. In other words, it’s a lot like work.

I run an ongoing AD&D campaign, and I use miniatures for that. Which means that in addition to the normal prep work of getting an adventure together, I need to find time to paint miniatures in time for when they will be needed. So far, my method has been to paint up a bunch of stuff for a good story arc or two, then take a brief hiatus while one of my friends runs something for a while. In the meantime, I paint more miniatures to be used the next time I run my campaign. So far it’s worked pretty well. But now it’s starting to get on my nerves.

With all the miniature gaming I’ve been doing lately (and all the miniature gaming I want to do) there are a whole lot of things I would rather be painting than the miniatures required for my AD&D game. And they’re all just sitting there in the insanity pile. So, although I’d love to get my Dreadball teams painted; or start that new proxy Imperial Guard army with Wargames Factory Greatcoats; or paint those damn WFB High Elves and Dwarfs that are still mostly unpainted; or paint any of the (many) Clan War miniatures I have; or repaint some Heroclix for a SS3 scenario or two; or build and paint some scenery (for anything); or paint those Terminators and Genestealers for Space Hulk; or paint some Hydra Retro Raygun or Bob Murch’s Pulp Figures; or dive head first into Western miniatures for some Wild West skirmish; or even paint some fantasy miniatures that I’m in no hurry to use for an upcoming game…I can’t. (And those are just the examples I can think of off the top of my head. If I was home, where my miniatures are, I could list a lot more.)

I can’t because I need 20 kobolds, a female cleric, a griffon and a gelatinous cube by next week. (Note: I don’t actually need any of this stuff, but my players read this, so I’m wary of giving anything away.)

It’s kind of like all those books I never appreciated when I was forced to read them for school, but loved when I reread them later in life. If I feel obligated to do something, it kind of sucks the joy out of it.

Don’t get me wrong: I’d love to paint any miniature as opposed to, say, shovel snow or rake leaves. But I find I spend less time per session at the painting table, because I just can’t get into it. Which of course makes the overall job that much longer.

I’d be interested to hear some thoughts on this from other gamers and miniature enthusiasts. I’m curious to know if any of you experience the same thing from time to time, or if it’s just me finding problems with everything, including my hobbies. I’m particularly interested in any professional painters out there, considering that for you, it actually IS work. What happens if someone commissions you to paint something that you hate painting ? How do you get motivated to do it (aside from the fact that you’re getting paid)? When do you ever have time to paint your own stuff?