There’s nothing better than those moments when time slips past without notice because I’m caught joyfully in that mysterious flow of creative energy that allows everything to work, seemingly without thought or struggle.
That’s the life of an artist!
Wait, what? You think being an artist is a bit more complicated than that?
You’re right, of course. Life is complicated and stressful at times – why would painting be any different. It’s a nice thought though – being swept up in that flow every time we step in front of the easel. Mostly, creating artwork is draining mentally and physically – it takes everything we’ve got to create something meaningful.
When some speed bump in the universe knocks me out of the flow and I’m suddenly glaringly conscious of the struggle, and the perplexity of painting gets the better of me or my mind starts to wonder why I ever thought I could paint, that’s when the muses call to me.
Shelves full of treasures from 40 years of scouring places like the Tattered Cover, Poor Richard’s or Half Price books; collections of DVD and digital tutorials by master painters like Richard Schmid, Dan Gerhartz, Jeremy Lipking, Quang Ho and so many others; Plein Air Magazine, Southwest Art, American Art Collector, Fine Art Connoisseur, Art of the West, and on and on;
Blogs by James Gurney, Oil Painters of America, Stapleton Kearns, Underpaintings; Plein Air Podcast and Artists Helping Artists; visiting the Eiteljorg and Indianapolis Art Museums (or maybe the National Gallery of Art or the Jackson Hole Wildlife Museum when out and about)
And art destinations like Santa Fe, Jackson Hole and the Broadmoor Galleries (of course) – that’s why I limit my study time to an hour or so each day, otherwise the Monthly Video would become the yearly video.
You can see that I have a variety of right brain jump starters, or creativity quick fixes, that help my mind refocus and engage – with live demos, DVD’s, and streaming art training at the top of my list – there’s something about watching other artists work that fills me with confidence – when I see them actually make that particular stroke or lay those colors on top of one another I think ‘hey, I can do that too’.
That leads me to YouTube and the Fast Motion Videos you’ll find on my channel – those videos that 4 years ago I hoped would serve as a muse or creative jump start for others.
Let’s step back in time for a minute – the slow build up to all the fast motion videos and online art training courses you see at MasterOilPainting.com today.
In 2006, when I first began experimenting with filming my painting process I had no idea what direction to go, I just wanted to share my experience as an artist with others. My studio was in a large industrial warehouse at the time and I had plenty of space to spread out and paint, which I was busily doing for 5 galleries across the country.
Videography was definitely not my forte, and YouTube had just come online, so looking up a quick how-to video was not an option. I had what I was told by the BestBuy rep was a great camcorder for digital work because it was 720 HD and could be converted easily into an uploadable file. So I set up my camera and filmed a couple paintings I was preparing for the Meyer Galleries in Santa Fe. Then I saw the footage I captured – with the soft focus, awful sound and poor lighting, and me with zero experience using Premiere Pro or any other film editing software. I didn’t feel the videos would be very helpful for anyone, so the files just took up space on my computer’s hard drive and did nothing more.
Here’s a look back at some clips of a couple painting demo attempts if you’re inclined to see what I struggled with early on.
Each year I experimented and researched as much as I could between paintings for the galleries. I’m not sure what compels artists to teach, but I love teaching about as much as I love painting – they are both so uplifting and challenging.
Challenging is the word – how do we teach in a way that other artists can genuinely learn and expand their skills and careers. I’ve watched some students advance like they have rocket boosters propelling their painting progress, while others travel on an endless treadmill for decades, never quite grasping the concepts and principles of professional painting – the carrot dangling just out of reach. I pondered that constantly – was there any way to bridge the gap?
Then I watched Scott Power’s Life in the Market DVD (excellent video overall). I purchased the demo because I love his finished work, the glow and edge quality of his final refinements. It took a couple years of sitting on the shelf before I found time to sit for 6 hours to watch it (the reason I didn’t want an expiration date on my training videos). As the painting progressed I patiently waited to witness the final refining strokes. Scott shared a lot of excellent techniques and insights into his process and then ended by letting us know he would be finishing up the painting later in his studio, alone, with no camera to record what I had anticipated learning.
That was the catalyst for my original Sweet Summer Days Roses instructional video. A video showing the painting from start to finish, every possible brushstroke, of a true gallery ready piece seemed to be the solution. But who has time to sit for 20 or 30 hours for a 24×30 painting?
Even during college, my favorite moments of learning were the demos my instructors gave, especially Leon Parson and Arlo Coles. The bummer was that there was never time for them to complete a painting during class – they always took them home and brought them back transformed from the initial demo stages we watched in class, to their amazing gallery ready refined finish – wait, what happened in-between!?
Adobe Premiere Pro brought all the pieces together. My first rose video took me five months – first figuring out the basics of Premiere Pro, building a swinging arm for the camera and then tediously editing over 20 hours of film. The video was certainly not perfect – I forgot to turn the cameras on for about 30 minutes during one of my painting sessions and getting the audio to sound bearable with my beginner microphones was frustratingly complicated to figure out, but boy was I excited when it was all done and I had a video that revealed the whole painting process from start to gallery finish.
That adventure set me way behind on my painting schedule though, and I still had no idea how to let anyone know that it existed. Marketing has never been one of my gifts – that’s why I love using galleries for my paintings! After that first video though, I was hooked on the potential of what had been accomplished. I am convinced that when we want to learn something, watching a skilled craftsman go through the steps, and then doing it ourselves, is the best way to learn. I love video because I can watch as many times as I need to, and that complicated flick of a brush or mixing of paint isn’t lost like it would be during a live workshop.
Since there were plenty of paintings to catch up on, and each video took hundreds of hours to edit, new painting videos were worked on at night after a full day of painting (except during those blessed moments when Kristie or one of my children allowed me to talk them into helping). With Kristie’s help we experimented with a lot of different ideas to share my painting process – streaming live demos, taping my live studio class demos – trying to find something other artists would enjoy that didn’t break the time bank like that first rose video.
We quickly discovered that the quick 5-minute fast motion video I put together of the rose video was popular with both artists and people who have never painted – they found it entertaining and relaxing to see the painting materialize like magic.
Several articles I read stated that nobody wanted to watch anything longer than 3-5 minutes, but I took a chance that artists have longer attention spans than that, and created the 40 minute Colorado River and Trees that was hugely popular right off. Now you can find most of our fast motion videos in longer lengths.
Over the next couple years we added quite a few fast motion videos to our channel. Even I found them intriguing. It probably seems odd to think of me watching my own painting progressing when I’ve already been in the trenches with it, but I realized there was value in distancing myself from the individual techniques and getting a broader view of the process. I was no longer distracted by the details and could think more about the major principles like composition and values and how well all the elements worked together.
Because we received so many requests for more details from artists around the world who wanted to learn, and being ever in the teacher mindset, I started adding voice over instruction to the videos. The team (my wife Kristie and two of my kids David and Tawnymara) have grown to love seeing all the comments from artists about these videos.
Now, because of feedback from all of you we’ve decided to start adding both the fast-motion with voice over and the fast motion with just the painting and music, to our channel. Watch our YouTube channel over the next few weeks to see those videos added as we get them ready.
Kristie, who doesn’t paint, loves to watch the original videos – she says they’re relaxing and that watching the paintings transform is mesmerizing – she also likes to have them playing in the background for fun when we have family and friends over. We’ve also gotten emails and comments from subscribers telling us that they turn them on while drinking their coffee in the morning or when they want to unwind after a day of work.
We don’t want things to get confusing though, so we’ve created playlists to separate them and make it easy to find what you want to watch.
So, if you’re simply wanting to relax or be entertained then enjoy the Fast Motion Painting with Music Playlist, turn on auto play and be mesmerized.
If you’re wanting some quick art tips about painting flowers you can go to the Fast Motion Painting with Instruction Playlist and learn to your hearts content.
Over time we will continue to add more videos to these playlists, as well as more playlist options, so you can quickly find the exact muse you’re needing at the moment.
We have several ideas we’re working on to continue adding entertaining and instructional content that will uplift your day.
What would you like to see us work on next?