The Muncie Artist Guild asked if I would give a short (hour and fifteen minutes) oil painting demo for their members.

“Of course – I would love to.”

A day before, some friends had requested an aspen tree scene with a little country road in it, so the demo seemed like an ideal opportunity to tackle both at once.

Capturing video of aspen groves near Rye, Colorado

What would you want to see in an hour’s painting? Have you ever given yourself a deadline like that just to see what you might produce, or to force your mind to think quickly and intuitively?

Often when we paint outdoors we have very short-lived lighting conditions and we may only have an hour or less to capture that dramatic color on the side of a cliff face or the fiery glow of a rising sun behind a bank of trees.

Yosemite bathed in afternoon light

Pondering the opportunity and the short time limit, I wondered if I should demonstrate a few brush techniques or maybe a single tree bathed in light. None of the condensed versions felt quite right, so I chose to dive right in and get as far as I could with a smaller piece. That way, hopefully, they could see my overall approach to painting.

Conditions became even more complicated when the Minnetrista double booked the room generally reserved for the Guild. We ended up in a space with carpet that the Center insisted needed protecting with a noisy tarp, and with south facing windows and fluorescent lighting that cast a challenging glare on my palette and panel.

Contorting to see around the glare during the demo

When we’re faced with less than ideal conditions as artists what do we do? Why, we curl up in a little ball in the corner and…ha just kidding…we use our creative imagination to improvise and we forge ahead with enthusiasm!

Another challenge with demos for me is talking and painting at the same time. I believe some instruction while the painting progresses is necessary, but concentration is key to producing our best work, and I am definitely a one-complicated-task-at-a-time kind of guy. So, I cross my fingers and pray intently that the participants leave feeling the time they spent was worth missing an hour of Netflix for.

Now, this video is also far from ideal, but many of you expressed a longing to have been a fly on the wall, so we thought you might enjoy what we did capture.



Aspen demo for the Muncie Artist Guild – 8×10 oil painting by Bill Inman


What harrowing demo adventures have you witnessed or experienced? What do you hope for when you watch a painting demonstration?