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Advice to painting teachers


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I am absolutely sure you are a competent painter.  You teaching skills may be lacking though.  Here are a couple of tips:

 

I do not expect you to demonstrate your skill, I don't want you to demonstrate your technique, I want to learn your technique.  I realize it may take several hours to complete what you are showing me, don't try to prove it in our short time.

 

Use big models to demonstrate what you mean.  No one can really see what you are doing to the 28mm figure from five feet away..  Get a big figure, like one of those eight inch toy soldiers and a 1/4" brush to demonstrate the way you apply paint to the folds in the cloth, and to point out how you look at the figure to determine where the light hits.   

 

Always have the students demonstrate the technique.  Always give them a practice figure.  Always provide all the materials they are going to use, so that you can control what they are doing.

 

Think about how you say things.  'I paint the figure the same way I look at it' doesn't really tell me what you are doing.

 

Don't bring 600 bottles of paint and four tool boxes to class and use only two things.  Be prepared and use what you have prepared.  Rehearse.

 

I don't know if you get paid to teach, if Reaper gives you figures to demo on.  Maybe its not worth it to you, if you don't want to do it, don't.

 

I've had several great classes, some good classes and a couple bad classes.  I appreciate the work that goes into the simplest of classes and how hard it is to explain something that has taken several years to learn.  Thanks to you who teach well and thanks to you who try.

Edited by Randalll
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A bit of a passive aggressive post, but I'll bite. 

 

Techniques are very different for very large vs "normal" 28-32 mm figures. Some people teach a bit differently and people also learn differently. I had great classes with amazing painters/instructors who really tried to teach us and show us how they did things (most of them said to come watch over their shoulders if we wanted to as well), they passed their figures around as they did things, and asked if we had questions. Yeah, it's hard to show exactly what to do, but it's a 2 hour class and there are between 6-12 people per class. This makes it a bit harder to give the 1-on-1 that some people need. 

 

My advice?

 

Perhaps invest in some videos to see the techniques better, the classroom is harder to see exactly what they do and videos you can re-watch, pause, go back, fast forward and really get your money out of. The good ones cost right about the same as a class or two at ReaperCon as well, but you own it and can go over the techniques you see many times.

 

Also, try posting your stuff on the forum, get some feedback and advice from people. We are helpful around here and there are so many amazing painters who also can help you refine your own techniques.

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 Always provide all the materials they are going to use...

 

... Be prepared and use what you have prepared.  Rehearse.

 

I think it's all valid advice for people who think they want to teach, at Reapercon or anywhere else.  Teaching is more than just showing off what you know how to do. 

 

You need to show up early with supplies, I have never been in an arts/craft class where everyone had everything they needed (even when lists were provided ahead of time) to make sure people are prepared and the room is ready.  You need to be able to translate what you do and how you do it and why, so that other people get it. 

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NMM wih Jeffrey Bowden - I know there was a bit of confusion and frustration in the NMM basic class I took. I think I got a lot out of it because I had been trying to do NMM for months already and failing miserably. I probably should have taken the intermediate/advanced class. Some of the gentlemen seemed put off that Jeffrey Bowden was mixing up the named parts of swords. Frankly, the only words with sword that I know are the different types and sword and hilt so I wasn't put off by that. He gave great information on why not to use straight black or white and how to use them as accents. I wish we had gotten to work on more than the blade though and got to the armor. (ALSO: the video player thingy to show what he was doing on the television was broken so it made it significantly harder for people to catch on to what he was doing.)

 

Would I suggest this class to someone wanting to learn NMM? Yes. He did give examples of his work but this was to show how NMM is used. I never took it as him showing off?? Its obvious that he is very knowledgeable. What would be perfect next time? I'd love him forever if we had step by step print outs. Like I'd fangirl all over that guy.

 

Bob Ridolfis basing horror and fantasy - Honestly it was the after talk that was 100x more beneficial. If they named a class "Bob Ridolfi talks about stuff and you might make stuff too" I'd take the class in an instant. He has so much knowledge on looking at basing I'm different ways and from everyday things. I loved my little graveyard base but I loved the talk a lot more.

 

Would I suggest this class for someone wanting to learn basing? Absolutely and I'd encourage them to talk to Ridolfi afterwards because he's a fantastic and informative guy!

 

Jason Weibe Tool and Textures - Amazing! It was awesome sculpting out hair and scales and other cool textures from everyday random things. It also cracks me up how some amazing sculpting items can easily be made with a McDonalds spoon,some green stuff and insert random everyday item here.

 

Would i suggest this class for someone interested in sculpting and conversions? Yes.

 

James Wappels - Basing his way. If you've seen his work on his blog and havent taken his class, you need to take his class. He's very informative and is very passionate about his class and what he does. It was a lot of fun making a mess and I actually managed to make three bases that I would be happy to use! He opened my eyes to the joys of sculpey!! Sculpey is amazing.

 

Would I suggest this class? Do it nao!!

Edited by MissMelons
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Hey, MissMelons, I was also in Bowden's Basic NMM class, and also don't care what you call the little groove in a sword. I feel like I got a lot out of the class, but wish I'd gotten more. It was frustrating we did not move on past the sword blade, and a handout would have been a big bonus. The classroom space was not conducive to the topic. As you mentioned, the document camera had such a poor framerate, it was actually a detriment to seeing what he was trying to do. Also, the large classroom rows made it difficult for him to easily walk around and observe the student's work. You could tell it was his first time teaching, and he could have used more preparation. It's hard to know how long a subject will take without any previous experience. I'm sure he will improve, and probably even did better in the Intermediate and Advanced NMM classes later on.

 

The larger class sizes this year were a Catch-22. I loved being able to more easily register for classes that interested me, and not have to fall back on second and third choices. However, it made the classes less intimate, and harder for the instructors to give more direct, frequent feedback.

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I didn't really feel that larger class sizes suffered. Reaper tried something new and not all brand new things work perfectly the first time but they are heading in the right direction.

 

I think with Jeffrey Bowden having teaching experience now, print outs, a camera/TV that functions, I think it would have been better. Those are easy fixes for the future though. The mini they chose was perfect and basic and did not feel overwhelming to deal with by myself later. Out class was missing some paints but Anne fixed that quickly.

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This topic is certainly a minefied.  It seems to have quickly turned into point and counterpoint.  A criticism (in the sense of a critique, not disparagement) is offered and a defense soon follows.  I don't want to contribute to that dynamic.  ReaperCon and its classes are not Nirvana; neither are they Hades.  Having said that, let me say this  --

 

 I commend Randalll for bringing up the topic.  Brave or foolhardy?  Could be both.  I don't agree with all that he said, but I do agree with some.

 

I was a newbie and took the maximum number of classes.  I came to ReaperCon to improve my technique and only to improve my technique.  And I was very pleasantly surprised to experience a lot more than just an intense painting, basing, and sculpting cirriculum.  ReaperCon is a strange mixture of organization and serrendipity -- its mood of detailed organization combined with a loose, upbeat fiesta actually works.  I wish I had discovered ReaperCon several years ago. 

 

First, let me point out that my personal psychology and personality and learning technique could be very similar or very different to the psychology and personality and teaching technique and vocabulary of the instructor.  When it was similar the class was a delight; when different it was frustrating.  Was that anybody's fault?  Probably not, because in my more frustrating classes other students seemed to be completely locked in and enjoying the experience.

 

Which leads to the subject of the experience level of the students.  Reaper can't control it, but there were very advanced students in basic classes and very basic students in advanced classes -- which led to advanced students pushing the instructor to make a basic class an advanced class and which led to basic students pushing the instructor to make an advanced class a basic class.  It is, I think, up to the instructor to be able to handle those conflicting demands.  And it is incumbent upon a student to go with the class content and not push to have the class be a personal tutorial.

 

The camera was a mixed blessing.  The one I saw functioned well at times and not at all at others.  Some instructors seemed to know how to use the camera better than others.  The images I saw on the camera ranged from a clear view of the technique the instructor was using to watching some sort of manipulation of a black blob that I think was a mini.

 

There was a tricky balance between how long the instructor took to introduce the topic and techniques and how long the topic and techiques were actually applied.  I think that using half the class as an introductory period was too long.

 

I do think that instructors should be familiar with, buy off, and conform to the class description.  Specifically, if the class description states that the class is hands on, I would expect that there would be some sort of hands on activity.  This facet was my second most frustrating experience -- having an instructor start the class by saying that the class description included hands on work, but that the instructor had not agreed to that activity and was not going to have hands on activity.  And didn't.

 

I thought the class sizes were small ... probably because it was my first ReaperCon and I had not had the luxury of even smaller classes.  It would have been nice to get even more personal attention, but I didn't feel slighted by any lack of it.  Almost all of the instructors were quite accessible.  Even if they didn't wander around interacting with each student; they were amenable to having us walk up to them and ask for specific criticism.

 

I was quite pleased with the availability of class materials, especially paints, and the experience of working with wet palettes -- where I learned that one can flood a wet palette and reduce all of one's paints to lightly colored water.  However, I did hear several of the artists comment that no spray primer was available and saw several desparately hand priming figures to prepare for a class.  Don't know if that was a Reaper issue of an individual artist issue, but it appeared to be at least a minor issue.  And, another class description issue came to light when the description had the usual boilerplate that students provide their own brushes -- and then the instructor indicate that an out of the ordinary type of brush was optimal for the technique.

 

Finally, I will offer my most significant frustration.  I experienced a person entering a class and asking if there was a vacant seat, as they would like to "observe" the class.  The instructor indicated that there appeared to be a vacancy and invited the person to sit down.  Thereafter, the "observer" had to move multiple times as other registered students arrived, wound up fully participating in the class (which required borrowing form other students), and entered into interchanges with the instructor that, at times, dominated the class.  To be absolutely blunt, if I pay for a seat in a class, I think it is inappropriate that others are given the same access and materials without registering and paying.

 

But, all in all, the classes ranged from OK to exceptional.  Just like real life.  Not all of the instructors were to my taste, but at least one, who initially rubbed me the wrong way, blew me away with the personal assistance and improvement I received.  I will seek out some of my instructors again and I will avoid others.  Not all of my fellow students were to my taste either, but none impeded my learning.  And I'm sure that I wasn't voted the model student in any class.  Even in my most frustrating class, I learned several valuable lessons.  Even with the instructor who was least compatible with my learning style, I was able to glean insights.  Perhaps, if I were a more accomplished painter, I might have been more critical.  At my level, however, I came back with a dozen or more insights and techniques I can immediately apply to my painting.

 

Hey, I'd go back again in a couple of months.  I plan to go back again next year.  And take as many classes as I can -- applying some refinement in class selection based upon a bit of experience.

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I guess these criticisms just make me appreciate the two Jessica Rich classes I took even more.  I cannot recommend her classes enough.

 

She would explain the step, then do the step on her mini.  Then she would do a lap of the table letting each one of us see her mini under our lamps and she'd explain exactly what she did and where.  Then she'd take another lap and check out our mini to offer feedback.  Even when she would ask us to mix colors or make a glaze or wash, she'd come around with her pallet to show us the color or consistency she was looking for.  She was always open to questions and happy to go back over a step if we still hadn't gotten it down all the way.  I'm still a bit of a newbie painter, but not once was I ever confused as to what she was doing or what I was supposed to be doing.

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I guess these criticisms just make me appreciate the two Jessica Rich classes I took even more.  I cannot recommend her classes enough.

 

She would explain the step, then do the step on her mini.  Then she would do a lap of the table letting each one of us see her mini under our lamps and she'd explain exactly what she did and where.  Then she'd take another lap and check out our mini to offer feedback.  Even when she would ask us to mix colors or make a glaze or wash, she'd come around with her pallet to show us the color or consistency she was looking for.  She was always open to questions and happy to go back over a step if we still hadn't gotten it down all the way.  I'm still a bit of a newbie painter, but not once was I ever confused as to what she was doing or what I was supposed to be doing.

 

This is brilliant.

 

As a newbie painter, I really struggle with trying to get the paint to the right consistency.  I still remember reading all these guides online which all said to make paint the consistency of skimmed milk which, for me, was just a massive "wut?"

 

And that is even before we start talking about washes and glazes!

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I guess these criticisms just make me appreciate the two Jessica Rich classes I took even more.  I cannot recommend her classes enough.

 

She would explain the step, then do the step on her mini.  Then she would do a lap of the table letting each one of us see her mini under our lamps and she'd explain exactly what she did and where.  Then she'd take another lap and check out our mini to offer feedback.  Even when she would ask us to mix colors or make a glaze or wash, she'd come around with her pallet to show us the color or consistency she was looking for.  She was always open to questions and happy to go back over a step if we still hadn't gotten it down all the way.  I'm still a bit of a newbie painter, but not once was I ever confused as to what she was doing or what I was supposed to be doing.

seconded I was lost in one of her classes but she still took time to show me her technique and I managed to learn quite a bit

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I have no intention of picking someone's post apart in regards to whether it was intentionally a bit harsh, or just meant to be constructive criticism, but there is just one statement I HAVE to ask about.

 

"I don't want you to demonstrate your technique, I want to learn your technique."

 

How else would you teach a technique other than through demonstration?  Especially since the original poster as well as others seem to feel there's no real way to explain what you are doing to someone who hasn't done it? (which I agree with by the way)  I really can't think of a way other than demonstration plus discussion to do a class on painting.  Unless they make the classes 4 hours, which I don't think I'd like at all, you kind of have to cope with the fact you have someone trying to teach as much as possible in a small window.

 

I will throw in with those who weren't a fan of the videos, but I have no problem with their inclusion.  For those it helped, good deal.  For myself I just got up and walked over to look up close, or waited for the instructor to walk around with the example.  It's kind of a way to cover several bases all at once.

 

I had one class where I felt the talk & hands on could have been a little better balanced.  I approached the instructor and truthfully complimented him on having given me several pieces of new and helpful information, then said I thought maybe starting with some hands on would make the class flow better, that I didn't have enough time to paint much.  He was super nice and thanked me for talking to him.  I feel that it's always more helpful to give input exactly where it is useful instead of making blanket public statements.  I'm not busting anyone's chops for coming here to discuss their experience, after all this is a good place for group discussion.  I just question the effectiveness of the method since for all I know there are 20 professional painters reading this going "Is he talking about me?"

 

Regarding the instructors catering to varying levels of experience, Reaper gave level information for every class, so if anybody took an advanced or even an intermediate who was a first time painter, I don't think the instructor is obligated to back things up that far for the benefit of one person.  I think that's a bit unfair to the other people who signed up to learn higher level techniques.

 

As others have said, unless you caught them on the way to something important, I've never had an instructor or any artist at Reapercon be anything less than helpful when I asked them questions outside of class.

 

I can understand the frustration with the fellow who didn't pay for class asking to "observe" and then being disruptive.  I imagine the teacher took him at his word.  I'm guessing there will be a rule for that next year ::P:

Edited by Matbar
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 I just question the effectiveness of the method since for all I know there are 20 professional painters reading this going "Is he talking about me?"

 

 

 

I know I am.

 

One caveat I will add from an instructor's point of view: please read the class description before taking it.  A lot of beginning classes are Demo/Q&A, not Hands-On, yet in every class it seems like some people are surprised by that (hence the reason I am concerned that this is about my class).

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