In the area I live and play in painted armies are not the norm. For every painted army you see there are several more that are mostly gray. I am guilty of this I frequently suffer from gamer a.d.d. and will switch projects before I finish an army. However GW has given us a great boon in 6th ed 40k and that is the allies system.
My plan is to only field painted units. If I want a new unit, I will break out the paints. Being able to ally means that armies that are mostly unpainted can still be played as an ally for another force. For example I just purchased a Riptide that I want to play. I already have painted fire warriors, and I can do a simple quick conversion to make a fireblade. Now I have an ally force I can throw into my eldar as soon as I paint the Riptide. I can slowly build up my painted tau without the worry of not being able to play with any tau until I complete the whole army. Every time I paint a new unit I can work into my eldar army until I have enough units to switch from and Eldar/Tau army to a Tau/Eldar army and eventually to a pure Tau one.
Now my hope is that eventually allies will become an official rule for warhammer fantasy.