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Tristram

"Open Training" at ReaperCon

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Hey, folks...

 

...longtime Reaper fan (and several-ReaperCon attendee) here, first-time Forum poster.

 

I've enjoyed all the training offered at each ReaperCon I've attended, but have recently wondered if there is a new format that might add an interesting element to these sessions. Specifically, I wonder if "Open Training" sessions might make sense, where painters, sculptors and other students would work on their projects under the observation of one or more professional instructors. These professionals would be on-hand to observe, offer commentary and answer questions as they arise.

 

This would take pressure off the teachers - not having to be in "presentation mode" for the entire duration of the session, and would allow students to get specific, personalized assistance with their projects. Most of the time would be like a study hall, with the students working on their minis. The teachers could circulate around, checking if everyone's doing okay, providing insight as necessary. If a question or observation seems relevant to the larger group, the teacher could present to the class.

 

These "Open Trainings" could either be fully open to any project/topic, and/or themed (Painting for Tabletop/Painting for Display/Crafting Terrain/Painting Vehicles/Sculpting Faces/etc., etc., etc.).

 

Has anything like this ever been attempted at ReaperCon (or elsewhere, for those who attend other conventions)? And, might it be feasible for ReaperCon 2017? I'm curious to hear any feedback from Reaper folk, as well as the general populace.

 

Thanks!

 

-Darren

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I think that tends to happen more by accident than design right now. The instructors are available when not teaching and I have seen many impropt sessions happen over years.

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<<I think that tends to happen more by accident than design right now. The instructors are available when not teaching and I have seen many impropt sessions happen over years.>>

 

No doubt; I know this is a defining concept behind the Artists' Row surrounding the main floor.

 

However, rather than having an attendee gather their project from a painting table and bring it to an artist on the periphery each time a question comes to mind, I was trying to gauge interest in more-structured sessions. In these scenarios, the artist is always close at hand, and scheduled to devote time and attention to the training. To me, this seems more accommodating to the time of the artist and the attendee.

 

-Darren

Edited by OneBoot
Fixed word wrap not working

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It also tends to be the case that people gather together in groups at the paint tables and share supplies, offer feedback, etc. So it's being done in an informal way amongst people in general at the convention, and I would recommend that someone looking for feedback and assistance try to get into one of those groups. For myself, I've occasionally gone over to a table to demo/work with a person when a question is more hands-on.

I'll try to remember to mention this to the organizers as a future thought for consideration, and make sure someone's seen this thread. I think that Reaper would need to charge for this since they'd need to set aside class space and instructor time for it. I don't think it would be possible to do this year, planning is already pretty far along and I think the schedules for teachers and classroom areas are both pretty full.

As a teacher, I'm not sure how I feel about the notion. If everyone's working on something completely different and could have questions on anything, that's a bit intimidating for me. I manage my concerns over public speaking by being super prepared on my planned class topic(s). I also might be concerned that maybe people will feel shy and not ask enough questions, or one or two people who are less introverted would end up dominating the session. Since we're painting miniatures, it's not that easy to just do a circuit around the tables and see where everyone is, you have to ask people to hand you their miniatures, and then know what specifically they want feedback on. (Whereas in a standard class we're all working on the same exact thing so it's quicker to look, check that thing, respond to where they are on that thing.)
 

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Great feedback, Wren. I was hoping to elicit some reactions from the instructors, as well as potential attendees.

 

I agree that "open to any topic under the sun" is too inclusive. If sessions like this were implemented, I think topics would have to be assigned to each.

 

I also think that 2-3 instructors per session would be preferable to 1, unless the session size were kept small. Doubtlessly, there's an ideal ratio of instructors-to-students that would allow all attendees to get attention, yet not overwhelm the teachers. Promoting a casual, but informative atmosphere would be best for all involved.

 

I truly appreciate your offer to mention this to the organizers. This occurred to me immediately after ReaperCon 2016; I don't know why I waited until today to post!

 

-Darren

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As a side note I have taught both at ReaperCon and Genghis Con. While the idea has merit its also a huge drain on rather limited instructor pool. It will definitely take some thought to implement and I'm not convinced that there is any real value here. You are essentially removing 2-3 classes from the program with this.

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It's an interesting idea. As a con attendee my concern would be that if you create a "VIP Paint Lounge" you would create an unintentional upper class. It would suck if half the folks I hang out with are separated from each other because some are in the VIP and others are not. Part of what I really enjoy is that we are all paint nerds being paint nerds together. What I wold rather see is Reaper encouraging the artists to mingle and wander through the paint tables from time to time. Or designate a Pro-Opinion "booth" or spot where attendees can approach whoever happens to be available, without feeling awkward "intruding or imposing" on an artist at the artist table.

 

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Back in the day when RC was at the shop and artist row was in a separate room (due to space issues), we did used to take shifts sitting and painting at a demo table to have an artist more accessible. This did not seem to notably overcome the introvert reluctance to approach us, at least not on my shifts. ;-> This is not exactly the same thing as what Dixon's proposed, just sharing the experience.

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This basically is already there.  You walk up to an artists, and then you ask them questions about your mini or whatever.  It is just not scheduled.

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<<This basically is already there.  You walk up to an artists, and then you ask them questions about your mini or whatever.  It is just not scheduled>>

 

In theory, true. But, in practice, I don't know how many are going to scoop up their stuff (possibly multiple times for multiple questions), and just select an artist from the ring around the periphery. This runs the risk of:

  • Possibly interrupting an artist in the middle of work
  • Choosing an artist whose specialties may not line up with the question(s)

Even so, you're right, in that many will still avail themselves of the Artists' Row, but some will not, for these reasons and, probably, others (introversion, as Wren noted). Having a dedicated Open Training session would alleviate or eliminate much of this. And it could run concurrently with other classes, and the Artists' Row would still be there, for those who choose not to join, or could not get a seat in, the Open Training, or who prefer that structure.

 

I just see it as another format of learning - one very low-key for the attendees and the teachers, and one specifically focused on multiple individual questions as they arise.

 

-Darren

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A thought on all this. I do feel that the Artist Row is very open, although not near as hands-on training as you may be wishing. But, perhaps they could get a little informal "menu" of sorts put together of the subject matter experts. (Gah! I hate bringing corporate terminology in, but it fits. Subject matter experts.) The menu could be a list of which topic(s) each instructor would be most willing and comfortable discussing while sitting on Artist's Row. Something to help direct attendees to the artist. Or maybe it could be more formal, by putting it into the convention guide.

 

I'm personally terrible at recognizing names and individual works, so knowing that if I'm wanting feedback on NMM, Artists A, F, and J have stated that they'd be willing to discuss that topic would help a lot. Then if I want feedback on better basing, then Artists B, C, and G are all willing on that.

 

Not to say that any particular artist can't discuss any particular subject, but just more of a bit of general direction. More work, I know, but maybe something to think about adding.

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7 minutes ago, Pegazus said:

A thought on all this. I do feel that the Artist Row is very open, although not near as hands-on training as you may be wishing. But, perhaps they could get a little informal "menu" of sorts put together of the subject matter experts. (Gah! I hate bringing corporate terminology in, but it fits. Subject matter experts.) The menu could be a list of which topic(s) each instructor would be most willing and comfortable discussing while sitting on Artist's Row. Something to help direct attendees to the artist. Or maybe it could be more formal, by putting it into the convention guide.

 

I'm personally terrible at recognizing names and individual works, so knowing that if I'm wanting feedback on NMM, Artists A, F, and J have stated that they'd be willing to discuss that topic would help a lot. Then if I want feedback on better basing, then Artists B, C, and G are all willing on that.

 

Not to say that any particular artist can't discuss any particular subject, but just more of a bit of general direction. More work, I know, but maybe something to think about adding.

 

An artist guide, not a bad idea, especially with how many new artists Reaper has added over the past few years.

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1 hour ago, TaleSpinner said:

 

An artist guide, not a bad idea, especially with how many new artists Reaper has added over the past few years.

 

Not a bad idea indeed!  However, as a currently-existing solution to this (though it requires a little effort on the part of the attendee), my suggestion is for each attendee to simply use the class listing.  Since we each tend to teach the subjects we feel we are best at, approaching a NMM instructor about NMM or a basing instructor about basing are probably safe bets. :;):  Plus, I know that both myself and other instructors usually have no problem saying "Oh, you're interested in learning more about Topic X?  Well, here is what I know, but Instructor Y over there can probably give you much better feedback than I can!" and then introducing the student to Instructor Y if they feel too shy to go introduce themselves.

 

Also, on this topic as a whole, I just wanted to throw out there that I really don't tend to work on my own personal projects at ReaperCon.  I can do that at home, so I'd much rather be spending my time answering questions and doing impromptu demos!  In other words, please, please, please don't hesitate to come say "Hi" and ask for advice on anything miniatures-related!  And, if I can't help you, I'll do my best to find someone who can!

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Dixon: I definitely identify with the desire to avoid a "haves vs. have-nots" situation with training. Unfortunately, there already exists something similar, with a finite number of class seats available and some popular sessions only offered a couple of times during the Con. I do like the ideas you present - the "Booth" and the circulation of artists throughout the general painting population.

 

Kuro: I love that attitude, and appreciate the invitation. I don't know that all, or most, ReaperCon artists share the same perspective (nor would I expect them to), but it's great seeing that some do!

 

Pegazus: The Artist Guide idea is a good one. Knowing who does what would be invaluable for attendees.

 

Still, there is something very appealing about the idea of having professionals circulating around my area as I'm working on my minis, dedicated to nothing but providing assistance, and available at a few moments' notice. This is especially appealing when compared with having to bring my stuff again and again to artists that I select from the Artists' Ring, possibly multiple times as questions or issues arise.

 

Personally, I see value in the current structure of Artists' Row (perhaps with a guide added on), -and- some form of casual-but-personalized training of the sort that I'm proposing. I've loved ReaperCon's classes, but too often over the past couple of years, I've left training sessions with tons of notes, but no great insight as to how those tips apply to my technique.

 

Maybe that's a flaw in my question-asking approach, but I suspect that the format I'm suggesting, or some of Dixon's ideas, would address this sort of shortcoming - for many attendees - very directly.

 

-Darren

Edited by Tristram
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Just a note on artist's row - the point of us being there is to be accessible to answer questions. Like Kuro, I don't really have any great expectation of getting much done on personal projects during the show. My work during the show is to teach, judge, and interact with attendees and other artists. We often paint/sculpt in between doing those things, but that's as much to keep busy as anything else. It is unfortunate that the head down work posture (often with bonus face obscured by visual aids) is one that mirrors body language 'go away and leave me' signals. So I think people are often subconsciously reluctant to approach us because of that. :-<

In fact I would go so far to say that if you have an encounter with an artist sitting at artist row who seems like they do not want to interact with you in favour of concentrating on their own work, that is something to give a Reaper person feedback on during or after the show. 

Note that we might have to ask someone to come back later if we're at a tricky part of sculpting/painting/assembling something, or just about to dash off to a class or something. And since we don't have a ton of other places to hang out during the show, someone might need to take some time to make personal calls, or eat lunch or something. And we can't recreate two hour classes for individuals or spend hours and hours with person. So I'm not exactly saying we're completely at the disposal of attendees the whole time and every artist should immediately drop whatever they're doing to talk to someone that minute and for as long as the person wants, but the point of us being there is to be available to people, not to do a ton of painting/sculpting.

That doesn't address all the points of the proposal, and I'm not trying to. But the point that introverted attendees are reluctant to talk to artists on artist's row when that's what the artists are there for is an issue that may need to be addressed on the attendee level more than the event/artist level. ;->

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