Post by Kyle –

If you came by the store last weekend or the weekend before, you no doubt noticed that we had moved some of our gaming tables to different spots around the store to accommodate all the people huddled together at the banquet tables at the back of the store.

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We were running what we hope to do more of in the near future: organised instructional painting workshops. The last two weekends were part of one giant, four-day workshop organised being instructed by award-winning painter, Mathieu Fontaine. (To see some of his gorgeous work, check out his website here.)

For a first attempt at running an event like this, we certainly aimed high, bringing in one of the more recognised miniatures painters to run a four-day, expert-level painting seminar. (Of course, I had very little to do with the planning stages: the vast majority of the leg work was done by Dallas, one of the local gamers and hobby enthusiasts. Had it not been for him, this workshop would never have happened!)

Let the Instruction begin!

Let the Instruction begin!

The sessions themselves were set at a pretty grueling pace with a start time hovering shortly before 9:00am each morning and going on for about eight hours. At first blush, your line of thought might be, “Eight hours of having fun painting—what’s so grueling about that?” But those eight hours of “fun” is actually eight hours of instruction, learning, concentrating and implementing new techniques—all while intuitively assessing what works / doesn’t work in one’s handiwork and adjusting accordingly. Ultimately, it is a fun day, and the results (below) are testament to that. But it’s an enjoyable day spent exercising a part of your brain that rarely gets a good workout, meaning it’s a strangely invigorating yet draining day.

I think everyone who came for the Masterclass workshops left more than pleased with the results, feeling that it was well worth the money paid.

Below: humble beginnings and the results after Day Two

So …when are we doing our next workshop(s)?

We’ve decided we totally have to do more workshops like this, though very likely not as ambitious as this one (it being a $300 to attend the multi-weekend workshop). We’re in the earliest of planning stages right now and I imagine we’ll be setting up a series of shorter workshops (I picture them being about a half day in length) that will focus on novice painters, addressing the fundamentals and basic strategies to start. And really, that description alone could be the impetus for a full-day workshop (or more) when you consider that in Mathieu’s first Masterclass session, almost two hours were spent discussing priming, demonstrating priming and discussing base coating miniatures—to intermediate and expert painters no less—it was close to noon before everyone had a single base coat of paint done on their model!

One of the things that was prevalent at the Masterclass Workshop that we really hope to recreate is higher-density seating. Seriously. Of course it all relies on attendance, but it’ll be our aim to jam four or five people at their painting stations to each table. Nothing facilitates art better than a studio environment: when everyone is close by each other, working on similar projects and able to easily see what everyone else is doing, something pretty special happens. Everyone begins sharing ideas and techniques, offering advice or insight; tips and tendencies are picked up almost through osmosis.

Being surrounded by painters imparts benefits that watching endless YouTube tutorials can never give, and that’s why these workshops are so important. I’m not eloquent enough to explain it, but everyone who has had the privilege of learning or working in studio conditions can testify that painting on one’s own just doesn’t compare to regularly painting as a group. This is partly why Games Workshop’s ‘Eavy Metal painters are so good: it’s not just because they go to work and paint models every day; it’s that they’re in an environment surrounded by others doing so as well. Heck, this was even true back when I worked at a Games Workshop store: back then stores had painting projects that staff had to complete; any one who stayed employed with GW for longer than a few months noticed that their painting level improved considerably. It was because they were around so much painting.

Anyways, keep paying attention to our blog and Facebook page for developments. March is chock full of events and April is promising to be busy as well; if we’re lucky, we’ll have a workshop during that month; that, or we’ll have something in May. I imagine if we can run (and get good turnout for) a few introductory and intermediate seminars, we’ll then pay to bring back Mathieu Fontaine for more Masterclass weekends.

Until then, I think I’ll be trying to initiate something I had always wanted to do in the past: a painting night. At the store, our days tend to be pretty well attended, but the weakest day for turnout on our event rosters during the week tends to be Tuesday evenings—or rather, the Tuesdays that aren’t the first Tuesday of the month (our Strange Aeons night) or the last Tuesday of the month (our Star Trek Attack Wing night). That would make it so that every month there would be two Tuesdays (and sometimes three!) when there’d be a painting club night. (I know I could certainly handle getting more of my stuff finished / getting closer to finished / having any signs of progress!)

Of course with the topics I’ve covered today, where I’m trying to gauge community interest in a side of our hobby that’s normally done solo, getting input on what the community thinks would be beyond helpful. Please comment on whether (and when!) miniatures-painting workshops and/or painting nights is something you’d be interested in. And with that, I’ll leave you with the Day Three results of the Masterclass Workshop!

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