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!