Friday, January 29, 2016


If you read my last blog you know I have a thing for art instructional videos and over the years have built up a sizable collection. I thoroughly enjoy painting..its what I do...and I like to see how others approach the process of putting paint to canvas, how they solve the various problems we all face and how they create these magical things called paintings.

I am a self taught painter. I didn't study painting in college and I have no background in color theory. I am an intuitive colorist meaning I make it up as I go and I mix color by looking at the subject and figuring out what colors need to go together to get me what I want. I hear you saying I should produce Richard Schmid's color charts...not gonna happen.

Most of the technical stuff I know about painting I learned from workshops, art videos and Youtube. The rest has come from trial and error and putting a lot of paint down on lots of canvases. My art journey has been greatly helped by the fine folks who make art instruction videos. I watch then regularly and when a new one hits the market by a painter I really like, I snatch it up. 

So let's get to the point of this blog. An art instruction video does you no good if you watch it a couple of times and put it on a shelf. Its like buying paint and canvas but never doing a painting. This blog shares with you how I watch and use art instruction videos as they are meant to be watched.

No this isn't it! By just watching a video you might pick up a gem or two that you may or may not remember the next time you paint, but this is a waste of time. If you really want to learn how to paint, get off the couch and into the studio.

Attach a large screen TV (1080p) to a laptop with a HDMI cable. 

Put in the instructional video of choice. For the past twenty years all I have painted is landscapes. I have decided to give still lifes and figurative work a try so to teach myself how to paint them I have turned to those artists whose work I really admire and who have good videos available. In this case I am painting from Jeffrey Watts' "Gesture Portraits" video.

I have me easel set up so I can see my painting and the video at the same time.

Its very important to be able to pause the video regularly.

Jeffrey shows the colors he is using in this demonstration and I take this time to put out the same colors on my palette.

Jeffrey has black on his palette which I decide not to put on mine. Too many bad habits will develop if I start using black so I add burnt sienna because if I need black I already know how to mix it. Otherwise I typically use the exact same palette that's in the video.

Jeffrey begins to paint and I paint right along with him trying to keep up. If he gets ahead I hit the pause button on the remote until I get caught up.

I don't follow Jeffrey stroke for stroke, but I generally try to emulate his technique. I will eventually move on to a live model and my own style will develop the more I do these.

As Jeffrey applies color I follow along, mixing paint when he mixes paint and putting it on the canvas when he does. 

Twenty minutes into it and we are almost done. Throwing in a background and looking to finish things up.

Jeffrey's finished demo

My finished exercise. It is my normal practice to do the same video demo five or six times then move on to the next demo. Once I've done that and my confidence begins to build, I will find my own subject and paint it several times until my own expression begins to develop. I don't have the courage to paint from a live model yet but I feel that will happen when it is suppose to.

I hope this has been helpful. Let me know with a comment below.

NEXT UP:  Art blogs I follow and why.


Beth said...

Enjoyed your blog about following along with a video demo. Great advice.
I have lots of videos and must admit I am guilty of looking at them once
or twice and moving on. Because of your blog I will be more diligent in
learning from the source. Thanks!

Judy P. said...

Funny I never thought of following along, there would be a lot to learn trying to follow the strokes! But maybe after awhile it would be hard to follow the color mixes from the puddles formed. My main focus is always on the translation the artist makes- what he sees, and how he makes the choices in color, line, everything! That's hard sometimes to follow in a video. Thanks for your insight!

Unknown said...

I always enjoy your blog posts, looking forward to each new post. The past two have been informative. Videos and workshops are my way of learning, as well.
See you in the field.

Rusty Jones said...

Thanks Beth, Judy and Roy for commenting. By following along I've discovered you develop mental and muscle memory. You develop a pace and most importantly it forces you to visualize the subject like the artist in the video. You still have to make color and mixing choices and putting paint to canvas really helps you develop your own personal style. It's a great way to learn.

Peggy wilson said...

Excellent post. I appreciate the fact you use this learning exercise. I had the opportunity to look at an original Scott Christensen and paint a study. I learned a ton. It really makes you think about not only color, but every brush stroke. Your blog is always informative and enriching. Thank you.

Debbie Dowdle said...

Thanks so much for this advice. I have a huge collection of videos so I have my work cut out for me!
Great idea especially for the winter season.

Christy said...

This is great information! Thank you. I would live to know the videos that have been instrumental to you. Thanks for all you do!

Rusty Jones said...

Christy: scroll down and read my last blog to find a complete list of the videos in my collection and which ones I recommend most

Unknown said...

I appreciate your thoughts on videos. I have many and realize that I'm leaving a lot of instruction on the table. Thank you very much!
I find your blog a breath of fresh air with your outlook on art

Unknown said...

I agree with you! I would also suggest books.... I am currently building my library of art instructional books and find the reference material and artist insights invaluable. The best part of your approach is the muscle memory you develop. Thank you for sharing.

Elizabeth said...

Hi Rusty,
I didn't know anyone else had figured out how to learn from the videos the way I do. I was watching the video & then putting it away. I thought, this should be like a workshop at home, otherwise I don't learn. So I started doing the same, painting along. I found out, I had issues with color theory and values. After a lot of practice, I think I'm seeing a smidgen of improvement. I'm not where I want to be, but I get closer every time I practice with a video. I have often used your blog as a guide to purchase videos, so thank you for guiding us in the right direction. Elizabeth