New Beginnings

I quit my job and moved across the country! I'm now a proud resident of Wisconsin and starting anew with freelance projects and... you guessed it: miniature painting :) We're all moved in and I have my new office set up. My creative space is a bit smaller and doesn't have a closet to stuff my gigantic hoard of miniatures, so I had to get creative using wall space and a shelving cabinet to store my basing materials and alarming amount of unpainted miniatures.

Using my handy dandy label maker, I sectioned out spaces and organized them by manufacturer. Anything that didn't fit in the shelving unit went into the basement (which is a thing up north, evidently). Luckily, it was only a few things: a box of Kickstarter minis from Ninja All-Stars and two fairly large plastic tubs of Reaper minis (LOL). I figure when winter comes, I'll be able to hide away with a space heater and paint miniatures until I'm forced to go outside in the frigid cold weather. 

In other news, it's time for ReaperCon 2018 in two months so I better get painting again! ReaperCon this year is August 30-September 2, 2018. I understand is the exact same weekend as DragonCon and NOVA. I'm bummed that I won't see all the regular artist peeps but I'm looking forward to seeing the folks that are able to make it this year!

I'll be teaching four classes this year (first year as a full-time instructor!): 

Multicultural Skin Tones (x2)

Have you ever tried painting a different skin tone, only to have it turn out all wrong? In this class, we'll venture outside of our creative comfort zones and explore the tricky art of painting various complexions. I'll share my methods of finding inspiration and reference material, planning overall color schemes, and applying finishing touches to help your miniatures stand out (in a good way!) During this class, we'll touch on a few different topics, including a bit of color theory, blending, and glazing techniques. Students will need to bring their own brushes.

Painting Eyes

Ready to face your fears and tackle the dreaded eye? With a bit of patience, you'll be able to paint more expressive faces in no time! In this class, I'll explain my favorite step-by-step process as students get hands-on experience painting happy little eyes. Individual guidance will be offered each step of the way. Please bring your own brushes, including a finer detail brush.

Speed Paint Scramble!

Imagine: it's almost game night and you need a last-minute mini to play with your tabletop group. What do you do? Speed paint scramble! Join me in this beginner-friendly class where I'll break down my method for painting minis quickly, using a limited color palette. Students should bring a medium-sized brush (approx. size 1-3) for base coating and a smaller brush for finishing-touch details.

Last year, I tried to cover too much material at once in my "Blending Skin & Fabric" class, and I'm narrowing it down to just skin tones. I really don't know what I was thinking trying to cover skin + blending + fabric in less than 2 hours with over 12+ students and calling it a "beginners" class. Yeesh! I'm grateful for the experience and now that I'm a bit wiser, I think pacing will be much more manageable. 

I'm still not sure what I've decided to enter in the painting competition, and I'll need to figure that out soon! Luckily, there's still time. I'm going to commit to finishing my entries before the convention, not procrastinating until the last minute like I have before in previous years, blaming my demanding work schedule for the lack of paint time. That's not an issue this year! However, I'm feeling the pressure of dwindling personal savings, so I need to get out there and paint some commissions-- more on that soon! 

Parties & Podcasts

I hope everyone had a lovely Labor Day weekend! It was a busy one for me-- I helped entertain visiting friends, watched the Acquisitions Incorporated D&D from PAX Prime, drove 7 hours roundtrip to attend a best friend's wedding shower, and dipped my toes into the world of podcasting! Last week, @SnickernackS reached out to me about my bummer-of-an-experience on a local game store (seriously, I have the worst luck!). We chatted about it and thought it would be a great idea for a podcast-- what to do/not to do, how to act, what to bring, etc. She put me in contact with Larry over at Models Workshop who also runs their podcast and they asked me to be a guest on the upcoming episode. Excellent! We're all in different time zones, so we originally decided to record fairly late (10pm-12am midnight on Saturday night my time). However, I had an epic adventure trying to get home in time to record. Here's what happened... 

On Saturday morning, I loaded up the car and drove to another city to attend a party-- a wedding shower to be specific. It was a lovely shower with friends and family, and I wouldn't have missed it for the world, even if it did take me over 4 hours navigating a horrible storm along the way that made me an entire hour late! After the party, I headed home knowing that if I ran into more storms, I would barely make it in time to eat and prepare for the podcast that night. By the time I made it home over 10 hours after I'd left, I was glad I'd acquired my "Podcast Loot" well beforehand. Check it out!

As luck would have it, the crew was ready to record early and I still needed to familiarize myself with the recording program and calibrate the settings on my Snowball microphone. Whoops! Luckily they were patient enough to walk me through it before we recorded and I scanned over the notes fairly quickly. During my personal disorganized scramble, I had completely forgotten that I hadn't anything that day besides two deviled eggs, a miniature lobster-topped cracker thingy, and a mini chocolate mousse dessert cube (which was delicious by the way). I had a long, socially-taxing day and being super-nervous about my first podcast, I decided to pour a glass of wine(Lesson learned: don't drink on an empty stomach, especially during a podcast) Looking back, we definitely lived up to the "After Hours" aspect-- more party than podcast toward the end! 

Our podcast started off with a bang and it was like going to a pub party with a bunch of your fun mates who love to laugh and joke about inappropriate things. Yeji, Clint, and Larry are a freaking riot! Their podcasts are generally 1.5 hours long, but we just kept having fun and kept the tapes rolling- we ended up recording over 2 hours and 15 minutes! It was casual and fun and hopefully I didn't embarrass myself too much. What did we talk about? Oh right! Our main topic revolved around Painting Classes. I popped in to talk a little bit about my Troll Night experience but more importantly, reflect on what I think makes a successful class. 

  1. Set Clear Expectations
    • Is this a Paint Night with friends that get together and paint casually?
    • Is this a Class where instruction will be given. Is it for beginners?
    • What should people bring? (Palette, water cup, miniature, etc 
  2. Plan Thoughtfully
    • What topics will you cover?
    • Will there be materials/miniatures provided? Outline of technique(s) you'll cover?
    • What style of class is this? Instructor demos or guided paint-along?
  3. Be Social Aware & Compassionate
    • Be welcoming (especially to those new to painting!)
    • Make people feel comfortable-- have an ice breaker and/or help introduce others
    • Be patient. Give constructive feedback appropriate to each individual's skill level

We go into more detail in the podcast along with some less-helpful-but-more-hilarious drunken rambling later on. If you're interested in either, have a listen here and don't forget to follow Models Workshop on Twitter!

Other than the epic podcast, I've been playing with the idea of streaming on Twitch. One year ago, I discovered Twitch and had future daydream of buying a webcam and streaming live online as I painted. I finally bought one! Since we've been talking so much about online painting hang-outs, it may become a reality in the near future now that I've made my own account. Getting set up on Twitch seems fairly daunting, but I think it'd be fun to interact with people online and grow both my skills and the community at the same time! Here's Dannin Deepaxe looking sassy and limbless as I play with camera settings-- don't worry, her arm's almost done and soon to be attached! 

What do you think? Would you tune in to watch and interact with a miniature painter on Twitch?

Local Painting Class (aka "Troll Night")

Tonight I'll be attending a painting class at a local game shop (aka "LGS"). I've never been to a Paint Night before and I'm really looking forward to it! Since I haven't been to this game store before, I called ahead to ask what I can expect and what I should bring to be best prepared. I was told by a kind and patient woman that the teacher is a super-nice guy and it's a casual environment where the instructor offers helpful painting tips and all skill levels can paint together. I'll be posting about my experience-- can't wait!

••• UPDATE •••

Tonight was extremely disappointing. Surely, I attended the wrong class. I signed up for a painting class at my friendly local gaming store when in fact, I attended Troll Night. Seriously, I should have brought a fire-imbued weapon for all the toxic nasties present. Looking back on it, I wish I had live-tweeted the whole thing-- but let me start from the beginning.

After fighting the back-to-school traffic to my LGS, I was 20 minutes after the listed class start time. While I was assured by one of the employees earlier that people are welcome to come-and-go starting at 7pm, I was still anxious since, as a rule, it's rude to be late. I walked in the front door for the very first time and was surprised at how busy it was! People shopping, groups talking and gaming on three long tables, and a line of 4+ people waiting to check out-- I loved the energy at this place! Since they were busy at the register, I found someone who wasn't currently helping customers and said, "Excuse me, I'm sorry, it's my first time here-- where's the painting class being held?". He stopped what he was doing and said "Welcome! It's over by the... y'know what, I'll walk you there. Right this way please!". He graciously ushered me into a room of four round tables and pointed out the instructor. I sat down at the nearest table in between a gentleman on his laptop and a young college fellow. I sat down, waited for a pause in the conversation, greeted the instructor and introduced myself. "Nice to meet you, it's my first time here-- I'm really sorry I'm late". He shrugged and told me it was a casual painting thing and said there's paint in the cabinets on the far wall and some miniatures if I wanted to use them. (I'd brought my own paints, brushes, water cups... I like to be prepared). Cool beans! I'm just happy I didn't interrupt a teaching demo or something. 

I unpacked my wet palette, 5 paints and my 3 miniatures I'd brought. I greeted Mr. Laptop next to me and he looked at me, promptly picked up his laptop, and changed tables. Ooookay? (I swear I showered this morning!) I asked Mr. College Student to my right where the paint water was. He just looked at me. "Uh, I don't think anyone's using any" ... "Oh, alright, that's cool. I'll go fill my cup up in the bathroom. Be right back" At this point, three things are going through my head:

  1. They list it as a Painting Class "Covering basic painting techniques and giving you great starting points for learning to paint". The instructor isn't very friendly and seems kind of distracted. 
  2. Why don't people have paint water? I assumed water and cups are pretty basic (but I try to be over-prepared so maybe it's not too big of a deal)
  3. Is it weird that I feel uncomfortable already? Should I just leave and go home?

Knowing that it was probably just me being nervous, I decided to stay for at least another 45 minutes to give it a fair chance. After all, I hadn't even tried to join the table conversation and I didn't want to leave as soon as I arrived. I returned from the bathroom with my water cup, offered to share my water with Shy College Kid, and listened to what the instructor was discussing-- maybe offering painting tips & tricks? Asking others about what their goals were for painting? Nope. Two of the guys had their primed Warhammer armies proudly displayed around them on the table. Impressive! However, I was quickly disenchanted when I endured the hateful bile from the duo next to the instructor who passed their negativity back and forth across the table. Several times, I attempted to make polite conversation. I was promptly ignored. Even when other people joined the table, I quickly realized that Paint Night conversation topics were limited to: 

  1. How badly that other guy's Warhammer army sucks and how much better their army was. "That guy thinks he's God's gift to Warhammer but that loser can't even paint his army the right colors. Hah!" 
  2. "My b**** ex-wife... I just don't understand why my kids would choose to stay with her" (I did learn something through this uncomfortable "over-sharing session": during a divorce in this U.S. state, children as young as 13 can choose for themselves which parent to live with. See? I'm here to learn things!)
  3. Ways that they've been "mistreated" at game stores by being asked to come up with their own groups after being told they complained too much. Then, how they planned to take advantage of those smaller local game store owners by winning "easy prizes" in Warhammer tournaments and choosing the most expensive items (blah, blah, F.A.T. Mats, etc.). "Yeah, that'll show them alright!"

I silently dubbed them the "Toxic Trolls". I felt like I was in 5th grade all over again. These adult men were spewing hate and negativity and gossiping like little brats! About 40 minutes later, a woman and two teenagers came in and said "Hi, we RSVP'd to the painting class". The people at the table just stared at them. They received the same cold greeting from the instructor who was too busy agreeing with Toxic Trolls to welcome them and help them get settled. One of the teenagers asked, "So what models are you painting?" No response from any of them. I smiled and piped up, "I'm painting a Reaper mini here... and this one's an Infinity miniature. I brought these from home, but I hear they have a few in the cabinet you can practice on!" The instructor stayed seated. At this point, I was ready to leave. I was disgusted with this "class"-- not only at the negative behavior allowed and practically encouraged by the instructor, but by the sheer lack of courtesy shown for newcomers-- and I'm not just talking about myself! I'm glad the instructor and his trolls didn't ask me a single question or offer to help me in any way. I'm happy no one paid attention to what I was painting. I made it a point not to tell anyone I'd painted before or about my blog because then I wouldn't be able to write this anonymous and honest review.

In the end, I packed up and said my polite goodbye to the shy college student next to me, thanked the instructor (he didn't even look up, though I spoke up loud enough) and on my way out waved to the nice employee who had greeted & walked me to the classroom when I arrived. I drove home saddened but determined. There will always be bile-spewing trolls. Don't be discouraged when you meet them. Instead, learn from them and imagine what you would do differently. When people show genuine interest in your craft, acknowledge them. Courtesy costs nothing. Be kind and welcoming. This is a community, which involves growing the hobby and positively shaping that community. I can't control other people's actions. However, I can control my own actions and how I treat others. I may disagree with how this particular Paint Night was run, and I'm sure others have had much better painting class experiences at their LGS. In the end, maybe I'll just start my own Paint Night-- I'd be extra-welcoming to newcomers and you better believe I'd bring be water, cups, and paper towels for everyone. Can't wait to see you there!