ReaperCon 2018

I'm home safely from ReaperCon 2018-- what a fantastic experience. It's always such a joy to spend time with my favorite convention folks! I'm forever grateful to the artists and wonderful people who inspire me and push me to be better :) 

Since I taught a full class load, I was awarded a spot on "Artist Alley", where guest instructors (artists, painters, and sculptors) are available to chat with convention attendees in between events and classes. I did miss a few folks who came by my table while I was teaching, and if I'm an instructor next year, I may make a sign that says "Sorry I missed you! I'm currently teaching a class. Will return at [time]." This was my first time on the "other side of the table" (so cool!) and it was personally rewarding for me. I welcomed new folks to the convention and offered feedback for beginner painters who came seeking advice on how to improve their painting skills. 

I was extremely honored and excited to have all my classes fill up. "Mocha, all your classes are sold out!" "...Seriously? That's awesome!" My favorite class to teach this year was "Multicultural Skin Tones". I had a lot of fun creating the class content and references-- there was so much I wanted to explore and share with my students! We played with different skin color recipes and I shared ways to become more ambitious when trying to plan color schemes for miniatures that look wildly different from the original box art (always a fun challenge!)

My "Painting Eyes" class is a close second-favorite, since I have folks who have never-- and I mean never-- painted an eye. "I avoid miniatures with eyes because I can't paint them" ... "Well that won't do! I expect you to walk out of this room cured of that fear!" The folks who have taken my class tell me excitedly that they've learned something new about painting eyes, whether they're beginners or intermediate painters. When my students have a "Eureka!" moment, that is the absolute best for me as an instructor. I still remember when I was taught different tips and tricks for painting eyes and I actually found joy when painting more expressive faces. 

One of the biggest surprises for me at the convention was the interview with Ron Hawkins, Art Director of Reaper Miniatures. Reaper was livestreaming interviews different instructors during the convention and when I was approached to do one, I was both appreciative and anxious. What will they ask? I don't want to embarrass myself. This is live after all!

In the end, I remembered the convention is all about having fun and sharing the love of the hobby. I agreed and did the best I could, despite being nervous :) As soon as they said, "We're live!" my brain blacked out and had to go back and watch the video to remember what I even said, ha! It was fun and I enjoyed watching the other instructors' interviews as well. 

Interview with Michal “Mocha” Schultz at ReaperCon 2018

Uploaded by Reaper Miniatures on 8/31/18

I do wish I had documented the convention better with photos. It was a true whirlwind! However, once I got back home, I scrolled through my pictures and uploaded the fun ones below (just click the picture if you need to enlarge it). 

I have to say, this year's venue was a true highlight. ReaperCon was held at the Embassy Suites Denton Convention Center and the hotel was beautiful. The two previous years were held at the Premier Event Center in Lewisville, TX and was a musty, sad bunker when compared to this year's fabulous venue. Embassy Suites elevated ReaperCon in my opinion and added such a great value and experience for all who attended. I hope they have it there next year. If they do, I'm definitely coming back!

New Venue Highlights: 

  1. Convenience. Being able to travel upstairs to drop off/pick up painting supplies and personal items in hotel room.
  2. Clean, well-appointed hotel rooms. Bluetooth in the bathroom mirror! Two-room suites! Great value for the price.
  3. PLENTY of room to mingle, game, paint, and explore the convention. Quiet places to escape and recharge.
  4. Noise levels were managed well with the carpeted convention hall, separate gaming & classroom areas.
  5. Private & semi-private classrooms allowed students and teachers to converse easily without struggling to hear.
  6. Gaming tables increased exponentially. Folks were enjoying tabletop games spread throughout convention area.
  7. The staff was fabulous. We can be a rowdy bunch and the hotel was courteous, reasonable & accommodating.

I'll be posting the final photos of my competition pieces on Monday, September 17, 2018.  I flew to the convention, and since leave with more than I brought (yay swag!), I didn't have enough room to transport everything home. I didn't want to risk checking my miniatures as luggage, so I decided to leave them with family members until I can retrieve them in two weeks when I attend a wedding. Flying is stressful enough, but if I arrived home with broken miniatures, I would be heartbroken. 

All in all, ReaperCon was another success and I already look forward to next year. One of the best things about going to this one convention each year is that I get to see the folks who share in my interest and get to recharge creatively! At the same time, it only happens once a year...  However, now that I'm living in the Midwest, Adepticon may be in the cards for me for the very first time. And I'd love to visit my friends in Las Vegas during the LVO convention... now that I'm no longer a corporate slave, I have more time to indulge in my hobby and start painting commission pieces. More miniature adventures to come! Thanks for following along :) 

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! 

Breakthrough

I gave my notice at my job on Thursday. This past month I often took the time to ask myself what would truly make me happy and, among other things, having more control over my work/life balance and consistent miniature painting was part of it. It's going to be a brand new adventure, but it's time I moved onto bigger & better things with the support of friends & family :)

While things at work have been very stressful, I was recently misdiagnosed and taking medicine that was causing some serious problems. Without going too much into the details, it's been a rough ride over the past 3 years getting to the bottom of my health issues. The good news is, my new doctor has a different theory on what's affecting my hormones and causing my adrenal fatigue. I'm hopeful that my upcoming sleep study will provide some additional insight. Fingers crossed!

In the meantime, I've been slowly starting to paint again after months of the cycle of work, eat, cry, sleep; repeat. Pathetic. I was incredibly bummed when I missed the deadline for the Miniature Monthly Darksword paint contest on Dec 31. I had "Female Ranger with Bow" all planned out and started but after weeks of working late and being emotionally and socially drained, I just couldn't pull it together in the end. I was very disappointed in myself.

Last week, I woke up and realized I'm not a victim. I'm not stuck in my job or my head– if I don't like my situation, I have the power to change it. I would often think, "If I were just [strong/disciplined/creative/healthy] enough, I'd be happy." Admittedly, the recent balacing in my medication has helped me get a grip on the self-loathing in my own head. So I sucked it up and rather than dwell on it, I've decided to finish the Miniature Monthly challenge and giveaway the miniature in a random contest– perhaps with Twitter followers– I'm not sure just yet. I'll keep you posted! Here's what I have so far:

I've also started on one of Reaper's 25th anniversary limited edition miniatures, Lysette, inspired by Erza Scarlet from the anime Fairy Tail. I haven't painted fantasy-red hair before and I figured she'd be perfect for it! I'll use Erza's Robe of Yūen (悠遠の衣 Yūen no Koromo) armor as a guide for my color scheme with purples and pinks. The other arm of the miniature (not yet attached) holds a magic wielder's staff which is consistent with Erza's armor as well :)

Last but not least, I have Reaper's Cleric of Mammon where I've taken some artistic liberties with her clothing and skintone paint choices which differs from her concept art (below right). While the Erza Scarlet-inspired mini above will have a fair skintone, I often challenge myself to experiment with darker shades. I'll be incorporating my examples into a future class at ReaperCon 2018!

Speaking of Reaper, I was in Denton, Texas last week and got to stop by and say hi to the folks at Reaper HQ. They were nice enough to take some time out of their day to visit with me and show me the upcoming projects they're working on. I'm also excited about ReaperCon 2018, which will be held at The Embassy Suites Denton Convention Center. I'm excited about the prospect of attending, this time as a full-fledged instructor, but I'll need to talk it over with my better half, since September 1 is our wedding annivesary. Eep! While I'd love to teach painting classes at ReaperCon again while he plays tabletop games on the other side of the convention area– I admit that it's not the most romantic setting, but I hope he's open to it! Wish me luck :)