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! 

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?