A few weeks back I posted my convention schedule for the year. Since then I have been frantically preparing for those conventions. Developing new painting class subjects or significantly updating older ones is always a time-intensive process. In addition to prepping paints and figures for my classes, I was also getting things ready for the miniature painting activities at my local charity fund raiser con, including organizing volunteers, supplies, and donations. (Please consider helping Second Harvest of East Tennessee or your local food bank. Their mission is more important than ever, and they are deeply affected by isolation measures.)
Traveling to Amish country is kind of like going back in time…
A week ago last Wednesday (March 11, 2020) I got on a plane to go to Cold Wars in Lancaster PA. While much of the world was already in the grip of Covid-19, In the USA awareness of our lack of preparedness for it was just starting to build in early March. My husband and I made some ‘just in case’ preparations so we had that taken care of before I traveled. The night before I left I started to have some misgivings about the trip, but it still seemed a reasonable decision to make, and my travel experience was fairly normal apart from easily finding a parking spot at the airport.
With each passing day, things became less and less normal. A pandemic was declared, and the USA finally started to take action to mitigate the speed of disease spread. Even in the ‘con bubble’ (how I feel when I’m at a convention and separate from not only my workaday life, but the rest of the world in general), changes were felt. I washed hands, sanitized, sprayed my belonging with isopropyl alcohol, and worked hard not to touch my face. IHOP removed condiments from the tables and instead brought them pre-packaged with your order. My flight home included a safety briefing about Covid-19 as well as instructions on how to operate my seatbelt, and the flight attendant wore gloves the entire trip.
Bye-bye sticky syrup pourers.
Oh, and everything I had been frantically planning for got canceled. (Except ReaperCon! Edit from the future: also ReaperCon.) I started joking that we were at the #lastconinamerica. Now I’m back home. Since I was traveling and socializing much more than is currently advised, I’m sequestering myself as much as I can for a full 14 days. Which at this point is pretty much following the recommendations for everyone in the country (and most others). I don’t work outside the house, so it’s not a huge change in my day-to-day lifestyle, and yet somehow everything is changed.
A lot of you are probably feeling the same way. It’s hard to do much other than scroll Facebook, new sites, and discuss it with friends (in messaging programs at an appropriate distance). It’s hard not to worry if you’ll be able to get toilet paper, or food, or keep your job. It’s impossible not to fret for the health of our friends and families and ourselves, and I know a lot of people are already affected by many of those those things. But if you’re still healthy, and your job is secure and you’re pretty sure you’ll have food on your plate, I’d like to make a suggestion: don’t let anxiety eat you up.
One of the last times I was within 10 feet of humans other than my spouse. The Michigan Toy Soldier booth is always a treat! It won’t be at AdeptiCon because none of us are, but you can also check out their cool wares online.
If you follow this blog you are probably a miniature painter, or a traditional artist, or both. If not, I bet you have some solitary hobby or interest you don’t get to enjoy nearly enough. Stay informed, but also take time to turn off the TV or the computer and make use of this unexpected time to do that thing you love that you don’t normally have enough time for. Artists and teachers are responding to this an amazing way and freely making available resources you’d normally have to pay to enjoy.
Yesterday I finally got to finish up these rats that I started at the Reaper Kickstarter party!
If you were planning to travel to AdeptiCon, check out the AdeptiCan’t 2020 Facebook group. (Edit: I removed the link as the group no longer exists.) A lot of hobby instructors and teachers are putting together some online together separately activities. There is a stream schedule set up that you can check. Vendors are even giving out swag!
Matt Cexwish is putting a number of his Joy of Basing Patreon videos on YouTube.
There are already a ton of great free miniature painting/sculpting resources available on YouTube that you probably haven’t had time to enjoy. (I know my ‘Watch Later’ list on YouTube is…not short.) And if you are financially secure, now would be a great time to jump into that Patreon or other online class you’ve been eyeing. You could learn a lot and help an artist.
Aaron Lovejoy taught us about real metallics and Elizabeth Beckley about non-metallics at Cold Wars. If you join the Miniature Monthly Patreon, they’ll teach you, too.
We are social animals and we need contact with one another. Yes even the most introverted among us. I don’t have links as readily to hand for how to ‘gather’, but I encourage you to spend some time on social media and figure out methods that might work for you to take care of your social animal needs. That might be phoning a friend/relations, or popping onto a stream chat or Discord. There are programs that allow you to game online with friends, whether you like video games, board games, or role-playing games. There are apps like Zoom that allow you to use your phone or computer to get a group of people together that you can see as well as hear. I’m one of those most introverted among us, so I don’t yet have all the technical intel on how exactly to do all of that stuff to link to, but just hop on your social media of choice and ask friends, and I bet you’ll get plenty of info. And while I am introverted, I am going to be working to figure some of it out to reach out to my more extroverted friends that I think are finding this time much more trying.
If you are a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, phone meetings are an option at this time. If you would prefer a more secular recovery group, there’s a Discord for that – With Out a Prayer. I imagine there are similar resources for other meeting groups sprouting up. Contact other members of your community to see what your options are. Don’t suffer alone in silence, you need your community more than ever at a time like this!
My friend Liz gave me this little guy. He’s going to be my lamp buddy and remind me of my great friends in the painting community that I will see again.
Here are some other options to enjoy your unexpected free time inside:
Ever wanted to draw your own comic or teach your kids to? How to Think When You Draw released a great PDF.
The Virtual Instructor has made available several traditional art classes that use minimal supplies.
Audit a course at an Ivy League university and tell everyone how you studied at Harvard/Yale/etc.
Watch a Broadway musical. (Not all of these are freely available, but some are.)
Enjoy the best art in the world from dozens of museums. And unlike viewing it live, you can zoom in!
Watch a live concert from the comfort of your own home.
Take a virtual field trip to a zoo, the Louvre, or even Mars!
The list of institutions, zoos, small businesses, and individuals who are working to provide material to educate, amuse, and distract us is almost too much to keep up with. If you’re having trouble finding something to suit you, check with friends who have similar tastes and I’ll be you find something to do.
Here are a few more memories from my trip to #lastconinamerica. I’m looking forward to seeing some of you at whichever event ends up (safely) being #postapocalypticon.
My Cold Wars swag and souvenirs.
In addition to my lizard friend I have this mug from the Atlanta Military Figure Society (which is not military figures only if you’re in the area!) and now my nifty Cold Wars brush rest to remind me that we may often paint in isolation, but we are a community, and we will come together as a community again.
I hope that you will stay well and take care of yourself as best you can!