Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Video in the Works

I’m in the early stages of developing a full-length art instruction video, and I would love to have your input. 

Please let me know in the poll at left what you’d most like to see in a Gurney art video. You can vote for more than one thing on the list.

And in the comments, please tell me in general what you like in art instruction videos (OK to mention favorites or share links to YouTube samples), and what are your pet peeves (without mentioning specific names). 

What features should the video have? Do you like or hate background music? What’s the ideal running time? What makes you watch a video multiple times? What’s the most you’d be willing to pay? Would you rather have a paid download or a DVD?
Addendum, January23:

There were 753 votes in the poll "What should a Gurney art video include?"
Here are the results:

Case history of 1 or 2 paintings--240 (31%)
Dinosaurs / Creatures--158 (20%)
Research-- 257 (34%)
Thumbnailing--259 (34%)
Watercolor technique--268 (35%) 
Colored Pencil--124 (16%)
Oil technique--420 (55%)
Composition--429 (56%)
Making maquettes--238 (31%)
Lighting--377 (50%)
Photo reference--287 (38%)
Color / gamut mapping--312 (41%)
Brushes, paint, medium--286 (37%)
Time lapse--174 (23%)
Parakeet antics--171 (22%)
Oudoor plein air demo--251 (33%)


Mary Bullock said...

One of the things I have noticed in instructional videos is that the sound is sometimes hard to hear. It seems to fade right when the person is giving a good tip or explanation. I don't know why this is, perhaps the person turns away from the mike.

Mike Garvey said...

This is really exciting! I got your Imaginative Realism book at CTNx in November and I've been pouring over every page ever since. I loved the section on how you have your studio set up, especially your palette. In addition to parakeet antics I think it'd be a lot of fun to see you shooting photo reference of your neighbors dressed in outlandish costumes. I'd be really excited to see your oil technique. I also use Liquin and have tried a handful of techniques with it. My favorite is using it in thin transparent glazes. I'm red/green/brown colorblind and so using layers of pure color to build other colors helps me keep track of where I'm at on the color wheel. Anyway, exciting stuff, I can't wait to see what ends up in the video! P.S. Thanks so much for the "Mike on a bike" T-Rex drawing in my Imaginative Realism book! It was great meeting you in person, very, very inspiring!

Nick said...

I voted for composition, since that as a subject seems to be one of the most confusing to beginners like me. 'Rule of thirds' doesn't seem to cut it with a lot of paintings. To me it seems to be far more about what the scene is depicting as well as psychology of shape etc.

Other instructional videos I've seen are priced at $40-60 which I find reasonable.

Tom Hart said...

Hi James -

Pet Peeves: I generally dislike cut-aways to talk (sometimes at length)about subjects not directly related to the art - such as history, etc.)

Back ground music: I can take it or leave it

Price: My budget would probably limit me to the $30-$40 range (For example, I'd love to have the Joan of Arc video featured here, but that's just enough out of my comfort range to make me hold off indefinitely.

Features: An empasis on shots of the work being done; a minimum of shots not immediatly relevant to the art. I also like to see shots of the pallette from time to time to get a sense of the colors and the artist's approach to mixing.

Length: An hour seems ideal, but 30 minutes can work too.

What makes me watch multiple times: A maxmium of concentration on the art process, a minimum of extraneous info.

DVD or download: I'm still old fashioned enough to prefer a dvd, but for a substantial price difference, I'd go for the download.

Paul McCall said...

I would rather have no background music rather than take the chance of having some music that is distracting and irritating.

Focus is important, obviously, but I have seen some videos where the focus puller is too slow.

I don't like long jumps in progress. I think all the stages should be shown, perhaps going into time lapse for repetitious actions such as scumbling in base colors.

Matthew Meyer said...

I would love to see demos of various painting techniques with a narration of specific details. Mainly, what kind of paint medium is being used, how colors, etc. I would like the video to be a companion to the C&L book, rather than a stand-alone thing. In other words, it could have sections that relate to the various chapters in the book.

My pet peeves in instructional videos are overly-long intros. I prefer to get right into the work, and hear the explanation as it's being done. My perfect art videos would be the Joy of Art series. The intros were quick, clear, and free of clutter, and he just jumped into the painting. Obviously those were cut for time and could have been longer with less cuts and jumps, but that's the general atmosphere I like: focusing on the painting techniques, the media, and with narration that follows the progress. I don't need background music.

I would MUCH prefer a digital download to a DVD!

Brian said...

I like to hear why/what the artist is thinking while they're doing something. I would love to hear your thoughts behind the decisions you make through the process.

Also let me say I think this is a great idea!

LandPainter said...

How about extras that explain things that aren't covered very often, for example, proper way to clean brushes, use of mediums, framing, marketing, pricing, varnishing, using plein air studies to create studio paintings, time management.

And of course parakeet antics!! :)

J. R. Stremikis said...

a few of my own preferences, combined with some armchair market research in youtube.com...
ideal running time of 90 to 120 minutes and of highest-quality video on a DVD. definitely would not want to be tied to network delivery or at-home burning of DVD, network storage, etc. biggest pet-peeve is trying to get such network-delivered videos burned on DVD to play on HDTV, loss of quality, etc.
ambient sounds, and a bit of non-gratuitous background music are a natural, always appropriate for mood-setting.
details - close-ups - to see the grain of the paper, the bristles in the brush - as well as sometimes referencing the artist's face for expression and mood or "noodling."
going rates for such instructional videos advertised in youtube: US$45 to $50, with free postage worldwide.
put the trailers in youtube.
would also like to see "packages" a book along with a DVD - price for those might be $65-$75.

Poet Whale Studio said...

No frilly stuff that's meant to entertain like quirky camera tricks or music blurbs. I prefer the subject do the entertaining with as little music in the background as possible. I like the sound of the artist shlepping around the studio looking for something while telling the why and what for. I like the idea of plein video.

Christopher Paul said...

Having gotten Donato's latest, I have to call that my new gold standard for art videos.

First of all, while I like the ease of a download, that one is a thing of beauty in and of itself and well worth the additional cost of production and shipping. I expected a lot and got more than I expected.

For a well done video, I believe that the music supports the information, and I can see playing it in the background while painting to continue to apply what has been taught.

My biggest pet peeves would be a lack of a second camera to capture the palette area our other critical areas; and making assumptions about prior knowledge without at least providing enough info so that the audience and go hunt up the appropriate info.

As mentioned, sound quality is critical as well, but with the parakeet doing quality control, that's not something I am too concerned about.

Steve said...

Likes: Views of the palette, clearly-spoken narrative (well-miked), some background music, clear sequence

Dislikes: Too many views of the artist's face rather than hands, vague explanations, giant unexplained leaps in the progress of a work, poor lighting

Running time: 30 minutes to an hour if it covers just one major topic or development of a single piece.

Some videos I've watched multiple times because it was so hard to tell how something was done I had to see it again! Ideally, multiple viewings would come from the pleasure of having something complex presented simply and entertainingly. Adding some text to the screen image once in a while helps -- seeing the words can deepen the learning.

I've enjoyed the humor (see "Parakeet Antics") and music you've put into your videos and, while some may consider that extraneous, I feel quick edits that add those elements make the viewing much more inviting. It's a matter of proportion. I also suspect humor and music would tap more of your creative energy in making the video, lifting the level of the entire project, even the more straightforward sections. The video would itself be more a work of art; an expression of who you are. I admire your humility and openness in inviting our input, but I hope you'd fundamentally make something that pleases and entertains you, as well.

If the downloadable version were much less expensive, that's probably what I'd buy, though there are great things that can be done with a DVD. The best thing I've seen in this regard is by a woodblock printer/carver, David Bull (woodblock.com) He has created a RichMedia eBook that allows for choices within the viewing of the video.

Super Villain said...

haha, exciting, was hoping for something like this

i think your best bet is to use what has worked for you all along, meaning your slide show. i remember at the MICA lecture a student asked if your slide show was avaliable because it had all the info needed to do a painting start to finish.

i think an hour to hour and half long, dvd, that goes into detail each step that is on your slideshow for painting start to finish. using the outline you already have written. this would be valuable for lots of artists for years to come....

a dvd like this maybe $20 or $24, with lots of extra bonus stuff wold be great, glad you got the ball rolling with this, a extremely valuable work that will be valued for years to come by lots of artists im sure!

motion-beam said...

i'm just excited for a video by you!

Mr. U.g.n.e. said...

Wow it is so hard to NOT pick more than just a few of them..! This is exciting. Thanks for putting a vote for it.
I don't know about the others but background music is generally not used well in quite a few of the instruction videos I have seen. However, it never gets bad enough to annoy me so I guess either way doesn't matter too much.
I am just a college student in a very expensive school, so I would say I wouldn't be able to afford for more than 60, 70 dollars for it... At the same time, it's still your video... Will definitely consider it no matter how high it gets..
It's hard to say what makes me watch a video for more than once. It has to have a lot of information, I guess. You shouldn't be worried about it, though, because I already watch your Youtube videos more than five times already. Let along a full length instructional DVD LOL!

Oh yeah, and, real DVD please..! That way you can always sign on them. Honest answer here..you should make it optional. The download version could be cheaper since it does not require all that extra work to burn it send it etc. I don't know how you can control people not cheating it over and have say, 50 people buy the same one and jut pass that digital file around. Maybe I think too much. Artists are generally very nice people. No, I don't have any scientific proof behind that statement.

Edward Foster said...

This might sound too abstract, but I'm really interested in how you approach a painting of a particular subject. How you decide what your approach will be. When is form most paramount, or color, or composition? Or, perhaps, you simply answer those questions intuitively while in process (though I doubt it). I also wonder not just how to make something convincing but how to balance an illusion of life with fantasy and pure aesthetics.

Mario said...

Some random thoughts.
Trivially stated, a DVD should have what can only be conveyed by a video. Some DVD's, albeit well done, are nothing more than "books with some movement" - a book clearly wins, in this case. So, whatever the subject, a DVD should show some live action, the real "making of" something. A book cannot convey all the information (conscious or unconscious) that the painter uses in making his art. What would you give to see Sargent or Pyle painting? Well, we may have the opportunity to see James Gurney at work...
Also, the medium partially dictates the content. For example, I don't think a DVD could say anything on composition that can't be said better by a book.

- a lot of live action;
- voice explanations, either "live" or added in postproduction, in a loud and clear speech;
- no music, please! (it makes understanding much harder. And what if you don't like the music?)

As to the cost, I think it shouldn't cost more than a book.

Richard said...

I personally would like to learn how to do your quick portraits with an emphasis on catching a likeness.

I think the worst kind of videos are ones that are done by non-painter videographers and are essentially just watching someone paint.

I also think that the composition trumps everything else. You can paint with dirt, saliva and sticks.

A good teacher knows what the mistakes are that students make and how to correct them not how to do something. So a critique is better than anything else. In practice you might do a "this is the wrong way" and "this is the right way" sort of approach.


David Still said...

Sound quality is definitely important. Especially if the artist tends to mumble or whisper when painting at the same time as talking. I also like when there's a second camera filming the palette while painting, because I find seeing what an artist does there is very important to understanding what then happens on the canvas. I voted for oil painting technique and composition, and would love to see a nice balance between the two. Really understanding the reasons behind the decisions made by the artist is maybe what is most often missing in other videos, but I understand that's probably the hardest thing to explain. As to music, it's ok when there's a timelapse section or a long sequence where there's no talk, but then there is, music usually distracts too much.

Gensior said...

There's no such thing as too many camera angles. I think the best instructional videos make use of three primary views: an over-the-shoulder view of the work as a whole, a closeup of the brush contacting the canvas, and a stable shot of the pallet for those times when the artist is picking up paint.

It frustrates me to no end when I watch a video where the artist is working on something and the brush disappears from view, only to reappear with some fantastic new color. Where did that color come from?! How did it get mixed? The pallet view is important, and not just at the beginning of the video!

It would take a lot of effort and resources to coordinate these three shots, but that doesn't diminish the value of doing it.

Björn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Björn said...

Technique and theory are dominant subjects among art videos and rightly so :) What I find is lacking out there and what I consider is one of the big steps to overcome as a beginner is; how to think. Most of the time it's the frame of mind that is the obstacle, not necessarily lack of technique. I've only seen one video where this is treated and it evolved my craft far beyond than most videos out there.
Regardless, by this time you could take a dump on a plate and explain it and I will listen and learn.. :)
Fantastic news!

Everett Patterson said...

I refuse to watch any video that doesn't prominently feature parakeet antics.

Bill Gathen said...

I'd suggest picking whatever subject you think you could make spectacularly good. Steve Jobs proved at Apple that people want amazing things, even if they didn't know they wanted them up beforehand. If you only had time to make one video that would change the world of art forever, something only you could make, what would it be about?

Definitely a paid download: instant gratification and better for the environment.

Nothing beats actually seeing the lines or paint hitting the work surface: verbal explanations or finished work are nowhere near as informative. The more time I can see new art being created, the better. Over the shoulder is great, with zooms for details. Anytime I see the instructor's face while he/she talks, I think "filler". Judicious use of time-lapse is also excellent. Mark Crilley's YouTube vids are great examples.

One pet peeve is when the dialogue isn't rehearsed and edited, so you watch an unchanging blank piece of paper for 30 seconds while the instructor rambles their way to "what I meant to say". That's what rehearsals are for. I watch many technical screencasts and the best of them flow like a symphony: almost too fast to follow, but precise. I can rewind multiple times if I don't get it the first time.

Searchability is also paramount: if you discuss 17 techniques, let me easily jump to each one for review. A table of contents with a timestamp for each is fine, but a clickable menu is even better. Don't make me watch the whole thing every time I want to see that one genius technique/concept I'm trying to learn.

Price point depends entirely on the density of content, but I'd cap it around $29.95. If you're giving more than $30 of content, better to break it into multiple smaller, focused offerings to avoid sticker shock. Then you've got the James Gurney Video Library, which would be awesome. Ala carte is the way everything is delivered today: just this single, just this episode...

Best of luck! Very excited to see what you come up with.

J.A. said...

James - this is a great idea, thanks! I second Brian and Bjorn re: info on your thought processes and decisions as as artist. I teach indexing and, while it seems a bit afield from painting - in the matter of how people learn new skills, there are similarities.

My students always told me that hearing how someone else thinks and makes their decisions when they are learning/working is very helpful. Helpful in that it lets them "test" their own thinking and judgment calls with someone who is more experienced.

I also do online teaching: close up views, multiple views, step-by-step example, and sound quality is crucial! My non-English speaking students also said they appreciated that I didn't rush when I spoke. Trying to understand a second language at the same time as learning a new skill was tough.

p.s. So psyched your Dinotopia museum show is in WI. Will be making the trip north to see it soon! ;-)

Lorna said...

Decide who you are aiming your work towards i.e. student or professional. Personally I get bored when the demonstration is mainly aimed at the beginner and I have to skip loads to get to the interesting stuff.

Erik Bongers said...

I'm not too worried about the quality of your videos without our input.
Your video attempts so far look promising. You use the camera in a creative way (angles, movement) and demonstrate techniques and concepts in an intuitive way and spiced with a bit of humour.

But if there's any advice I would give it's: stay clear of showcasing your skills. No 'speedpainting' for god's sake!

David Teter said...

Music? Can it be done so the MUSIC ONLY can be turned down or off? That would be ideal.

I'm always most interested in the artists thoughts and insight. The uniqueness that makes your art yours over others. That is what drives all the decisions of design, composition, color etc.
Thats one of the biggest reasons I like your work and visit.

Krystal said...

And in the comments, please tell me in general what you like in art instruction videos, and what are your pet peeves (without mentioning specific names). What features should the video have? Do you like or hate background music? What’s the ideal running time? What makes you watch a video multiple times? What’s the most you’d be willing to pay? Would you rather have a paid download or a DVD?  

Well ! It's great if you think about making an art video...
I just love them. It's the best way to learn from someone you like, and guess what... you're one of them of course :-)

I'll try to be quick :
as for me, it doesn't really matter what the specific technices are (watercolor, oil, ...). Brushes and medium are nice to menshion, of course, but I wouldn't care if you don't spend half an hour on this. I think your specificities, the things that make you the artist we know and like, are the most important to focus on. Like the gamut mask... the maquettes and work on lighting. Maybe a bit of plein air though, because you focus on that a lot in your books, especially to show the difference between reality and photoreferences and how to deal with it. I didn't mention dinosaurs in my vote, because I thing... well... it's your main subject.

Personnaly, I don't really like « speed views » if you understand what I mean. If I have to see a process in a painting, I like to see it from A to Z. It doesn't matter if it take quite long. Some of my instruction video are quite long and I doesn't feel it boring at all, as long as there is an explanation of the process or history during that time.

What makes me watch a video multiple times is if I feel like I actually am in the studio with my favourite painter. I mean : seeing really how he deals with things, his true process. I need to be able to learn not only the first time I see it, but each new time, buy looking the way he proceed, mix colors, put things together... and think.

Without telling a specific name of a painter, I must say I have a couple of DVD's from Liliedahle and I like them. Some of gnomon too. I think you can see the type of.
The one of Liliedahle are more often in real studios, with 2 or 3 cameras : one focuses on the mixing table, the other one on the canvas, and the thir is for the big pictures, when we have to see something specific on people pausing or for little anecdotes.I feel it quite complete.

As for the music in background, I find it nice to introduce the DVD but it's disturbing me when it is during the process of painting...

Well, that's my feeling ! I hope it will help...

Brendan Steidle said...

Definitely a download vs. DVD. $5 to $10 is the perfect price range - you'd also want a good trailer so people can sample and see if it's what they're looking for. Ideal running time: 30-minutes to an hour but leaning more towards an hour since it's going to be paid. The majority of the work in an imaginative painting seems to be done before you get out your brushes so spending equal time on how you hone in on that right image would be fascinating. And then, as you paint, talking about how your thinking changes or develops from the original vision; and at the end assessing your work critically in terms of whether it's met or exceeded your expectations. What you've learned, what you'd do differently, and how the process made you a better painter. Instructional videos are a lot like director's commentary on a DVD - an opportunity to see and hear the story behind the finished piece. The best ones are those that reveal an artist's values and insights.

Aaron said...

I'm sure after 30 comments you need my input, but I'll give it anyway :)
I think the ideal time is an hour, maybe an hour and a half. I echo Tom and Matt, don't need to much extraneous information, I basically want to see how you do what you do (and specifically your oil technique, I want so much to love oil paint, but I can't, nothing ever seems to work right.) A good suggestion also, make sure everything is well paced. I know you said no names but since I'm not really raging on this one just pointing out a minor thing that mildly blemished a perfect Inst. video, I assume it's ok; we share so we can all get better right? so I bought Drew Struzan's DVD on his making of the Hellboy movie poster. Excellent in every way but one, He dropped seriously awesome tips and techniques about the under-drawing phase (he uses pencil and adds transparent layers of airbrush, finishing with colored pencil), but then spent only the last like 10 min. or less (of a 90min. video) on the airbrush and colored pencil phase. This was what I was most interested in, and though I got a lot out of everyhing else, I think had the time been balanced better (in terms of how long was spent talking about each phase), It would have been a near perfect Inst. video, even with such a minor blemish it was still worth it. I do want to say before I sign off, I am like Tom, $30-50 would be my optimal zone. I would probably pay more, but that's just cause it's you James :) (The Hellboy DVD was $75 and it was worth it, but I felt like I had injured something after I wrote the check).

Brett W. McCoy said...

Music is OK as long as it is quiet and unobtrusive, otherwise it can detract from the talk. I also think filming the art creation & painting separately from the narration works best, so you can record the voice later in a controlled environment rather than trying to do it live while you paint.

I shamelessly voted for everything in your list :-)

youngstudios said...


As for my prefrences. i like at least 6 hour videos. personally i think its a good idea to offer both direct download and physical dvd.

i would like to see a piece evolve from sketch all the way to finished oils. and i would really love to see maquette construction and lighting.especially the lighting gels you mention in imaginative realism i have no idea what those are. also please focus on the trickier (thats a word right?) stuff like reflected light in shadows and texture in shadows.
As for cost i like videos priced from $30-50 dollars. though its your video so you can charge what you want.

thanks for doing this James im sure we will all appreciate it.

Glenn Keelan said...

Well for me James it would be Outdoor Plein Air Painting as i am very interested in doing this. Also lighting would be great. I have just finished studying your book "Color and Light" and i have to say that it is the best, clear and instructive book that i have studied so far. Imaginative Realism is in the post as we speak so cant wait to get stuck in. As for music, whatever feels right. Glenn from Ireland :-)

P.S check out my latest blog.

Krystal said...

I know, I already left a message... But something stroke me. Why not a looong video as I or youngstudio like, and a quicker version (1 hour)available on downloading ? Two different prices, of course. It would not be a big work to make the shorter version and you would have for both kind of people...

By the way, I am sorry for the many grammar errors that I left in my previous message. I can help even when I read myself back. My english if far from being good...

Christian Schlierkamp said...

Please also show (elaborately)the process of premixing, also softening edges etc etc.
Please show long sequences of the process, no time lapse please,
A lot of important things have allready been said...
I would agree: a DVD shouldn't be much more expensive then a good book.
Seeing as well palette as painting during the process would be important.
I would be very interested in traditional painting and drawing techniques.

Parakeets encouraged.

(I would as well be ok with a download!)

Unknown said...

Ooh. I wish I could have ranked them because I really want to rank the maquette one first even though I still want to watch the others I selected.

I most like just watching someone do something as they talk. I learn the most from seeing someone do it rather than watching pieces. Maybe sped up if it takes a really long time. I like lighthearted rather than overly serious, including jokes and fun anecdotes.

Not a big fan of background music, especially if there is talking. If there is no talking, I would rather listen to my own music.

I have no real preference on running time. I guess, if forced, very short at 5 minutes or long at an hour or hour and a half.

My favorite price is free, but at $5 I wouldn't hesitate. At $10 or more, I am less likely to buy it.

I would far rather have a download than a DVD. That is what makes it so I can get it at $5 and I can watch it almost right away instead of waiting for the DVD in the mail that may never come.

Lester Yocum said...

Okay, this is long, but you asked for it. :-)

What is unique and special about James Gurney’s process and products that would induce me to buy a video? Having had a week-long class with you, I’d like to suggest the following:

1. I want to feel that I am in the room with you, that you are speaking to me, like we were in that class. So pay up front to make it professional. Multiple cameras, good miking, great lighting, and great editing, including pacing and navigation. Content can be trumped by bad production values. I turn off videos where viewers get a lot of ambient noise, where artists run their own cameras, where off-screen time and background interruptions – cell phones!!! – interrupt the flow, and where artists mumble and stumble for words. Good art, badly presented. Turns me right off. People will return to a great video done well. Show us the real you with all the distractions lopped off.

2. Organized. Too many videos are random and non-rehearsed. While serendipity is unavoidable, try to make it as focused and purposeful as your lectures.

3. Even with all the above strictures, reflect who you are: intelligent, trained and experienced, focused, relaxed, having fun, not taking yourself too seriously.

4. While I think that your parakeet would be fun in YouTube shorts or as a DVD extra feature, don’t make him a Disneyesque sidekick to shoe-horn in humor or to announce steps in the process. Your innate personality will add the appropriate light moments. Showing him chewing on your eraser while you work, without adding comments, will be excellent. It shows who you are.

5. In your class I was able to follow your entire process – your artistic background, the appearance and arrangement of your studio (more or less), your tools, how job offers appear, your reaction to proposals, your thought process, thumbnails, research, client crits and approvals, the process of creation including maquettes and lighting, photographing the final, packaging, delivery. This is what I paid to see before and what I would like to see again.

6. During your video, take a break. People do that; it recharges the brain. Show yourself going to the farm and sketching a donkey. This would be touching and enhancing, and adds another dimension.

7. I was really impressed in the Creature Class when you went home one night and came back the next morning with a fully-painted satyr face. But I missed seeing you actually painting it. My reaction was, “How did he do that so quick, so well? How can I? He said he uses small brush strokes; I wish I’d seen him do it!” Show that process.

8. Bullet 5 would be great for a longer video. Bullet 7 would be great for a 30-minute video. Each topic in this blog’s survey would be a great 30-minute production; each could reference the longer video as a process baseline.

Okay, Lester, enough already! Nobody’s reading this anyway! Whatever you do, James, you will sell a lot, to schools as well as individuals, off your site and on tour. Make it You and you will succeed.

James Gurney said...

Just a quick word to all of you to say WOW! Thanks. I'm blown away by the thoughtful and intelligent comments so far. I'm reading everything and discussing each and every one of your points with the gang here.

I forgot to say in the original post to go ahead and share links or name names of videos you think work well.

Although I have plenty of my own ideas and opinions, there are many surprises here and great ideas I hadn't though of. Your comments will definitely influence the results.

By the way, if you don't have a Blogger account and want to send your thoughts, just write to gurneyjourney (at) gmail, and I'll compile those into a separate document.

Luc said...

As for me i wouldnt mind the length of the video. As long as possible hehe, the more info the better.

So what i would like to see is knowlage about color and composition rather then technique. since technique will come with the years by just doing it. proper knowlage about fundamentals is harder to obtain.

i would prefer download over dvd so people world wide can get it.

price 30$

Jason de Graaf said...

No lame classical music!

tay my said...

I want to see a quick 30 second summary of what I'm getting into before spending an hour watching something. But once I decide to watch it, I want to see the whole thing and have a paint-along. I also love anecdotes- "I learned how to draw noses when Cyrano stopped by with a cold and I really noticed the shape of his nostrils" that kind of thing.

Daroo said...


I think the Gurney approach: Thunbnail concept/ idea, use of maquettes, a plein air study, and maybe a mirror drawing/ costumed model study, and a gamut color sketch all combined in the studio into one painting would distinguish your video from others. Basically the Imaginative realism format.

Once the painting starts, I like to see the paint going onto the canvas (brush technique) and cut aways to the palette (really important )-- I think to do it right you need to have a two camera set up and time code the video or slate them with a sync point so that the palette and painting make sense.

Voice over of your thought process as you evaluate your progress. (Including correction of missteps?)

Some DVDS/Downloads I like:

Matt Smith's "Painting on location The Sonoran desert"-- makes great use of graphics to further explain his compositional choices

The Liliedahl vids:
Dan Gerhartz's" Warmth" Great for color temp and value and brush technique. Awesome drawing!
Scott Burdick's (various vids)--same as above -- also lots of palette shots shows interesting organization to his color mixing.
Morgan Weistling's "homework" -- shows his approach to designing with shadows and has very informative side bars that explain his technique.

Richard Schmid's vids: Like his books, the more you learn the more you get out of them.

Susan Lyon has some excellent and very affordable downloads on drawing and painting (caveat -- they're limited to one hard drive).

A Sense of time is important in these films, some judicious use of time lapse is fine -- but if you skip over a chunk of progress without showing it -- point it out in the narration or subtitle so the viewer is not confused.

Looking forward to it.

Miriam said...

I think will all the different topics you can talk about, you'll have to have a collection of DVD's! :) It will be very interesting to see what you decide to put in your final DVD!

In general, I like DVD's that show demos on whatever it is the author is explaining. On this, and not to offend any authors, I hate it when the camera focuses on the author's face more than the demo itself. If you are using watercolors, I'm interested in seeing how you mix it, how much water you add, how you use the brush, how you apply it on the paper. I also like it better when the author uses a specific example, like a photograph, instead of just imagining something and painting it.

Music, sometimes with the right music, it helps the mood of the presentation.

Download or DVD? either way.

I also agree with other people, I love it when the author explains why is doing something, or picking a specific color, a specific tool, etc. How do you even start the process?

Length, in general minimum 1 hour, HD if possible.

Price, I consider some factors to decide if the price is correct, like the quality, the amount of information, DVD's with video's on how to, not just a book on a DVD.

Thank you for deciding to create a DVD and for asking for opinions on the subject :)

Andrew- said...

There are several videos out there that are longer than an hour,... Donato's for one, on two disks. Maybe the price goes up per disk,... a good reason to stay with one, maybe. Yes, a Plein Air over-shoulder demo would be great, from site set-up to composition to painting,... and how to deal with sightseers.

I would be happier with fewer 'real-time' demos than a lot of speedpainting.

Thanks for finally doing this.

wade_watson said...

I've glad you asked. I think the most important thing an art instruction video can offer is to allow us to actually see an artist actively working. I have seen way too many instructional videos that show time lapses or before/after shots and such. Please show us your drawing/painting/constructing in action. Show how you paint. Video is a visual medium and I love to see it used to full potential for art instruction.

Janet Oliver said...

It might be useful, since you are a published author/illustrator, to feature something about putting together a book dummy for potential agents or publishers.

tkelly said...

Use a wireless lavalier mic. that will ensure that you voice does not rise and fall as you move. Such audio foibles are harder to fix in the editing room, without resorting to voice over.

Light the palate flat, so the user can see the colors. For that matter, color balance the light properly, it will be very different in the limited gamma of video. Use a chip chart and properly balanced light. Color correct the final video. Digital delivery can give you are larger color space than a DVD.

Shoot HD, use the extra space to display closeups of the palette and brush work. This means using more than one camera at time. Wide shot, canvase close-up, pallette, medium shot. Sync this footage. It will ensure your video will be watched more than once. It is always obvious when a only one or two cameras is used. It is also a lot more work to shoot and edit. More cameras will keep the footage interesting and not boring.

Decide who the audience is. If you are giving a beginner course, explain everything. If your audience is advanced, figure out your topic and leave the rest. It is hard to know what to leave out. But you cannot teach everything in a single video. One technique is to film with an audience that can ask questions. You can edit them out later, but it will keep you honest,and prevents you from missing things that are obvious to you but not the you students/audience. The more depth in which you cover a topic, the more likely it is to be watched repeatedly.

Don't remain silent. You should be teaching, your audiences time is valuable. You should be constantly increasing the value. This should answer your music question. If you have to add music to fill a lot of silence you are doing it wrong. Speak and show and explain. Repeat.

As far as price goes I think under $40 is fair, but it depends on the whole package.

Best of luck. It's a lot of work, but I can't wait to see the results.

Preston said...

I prefer having things on dvds, it kinda mimics the appeal of having a tangible book as opposed to an ebook.

$50ish is a fair price.

Running time: as long as it takes while not sacrificing the quality of information. I’d rather have 2 hours of dense informative insight than 3-4 plus hours of fluff.

High replay value for me is more guaranteed if the internal dialog is shared in depth. Knowing the right types of questions to ask oneself as you’re making an image. I feel like Iain McCaig in at least his first Gnomon DVD on Visual Storytelling is a good example of that.

Pet Peeves: poor sound quality and poor lighting.

I tend to like videos without music, to echo how it would be like in a demo in front of a classroom or group of people, coughing/scraping/mistakes and all. Plus it gives the listeners the option of having their own music to listen to while watching your video.

Features : navigation similar to a movie, where you can skip to a certain part that covers a certain topic.

Unknown said...

I would love to see you do a portrait from the beginning to the end -- both a portrait painting, and also some of your quick sketches. I would like to see what colors you choose for different situations.

I don't care about the music. I agree with Tom Hart about art history. I mean, I love it -- but get info like that from other places. What would make it watchable over and over again would be seeing practical techniques in action. I also agree with him about the price range. Not that it wouldn't be worth so much more, but for many of us $30 or $40 is splurging!

I would love to show my students something like this.

Can't wait!

Unknown said...

I'd pay more than $100 at least for a DVD from you in particular on watercolor technique and color gamut mapping (two subjects together.)
That would be the art instruction of my dreams. Thanks.

PatternGhost said...

I enjoy instruction that focuses on strategies. I would enjoy seeing videos where you explain the strategies and mental check lists involved in tackling your portraits (watercolor or pencil) or plein air landscapes.

I generally dislike background music and prefer videos with a good table of contents when re-watching.

Based on your books and blog content, I look forward to whatever you decide to release.

Michael Chesley Johnson, Artist / Writer said...

Spielberg, ILM and/or WETA would be perfect for post-production.

Just kidding. I think anything you do would be very worthwhile. I love the books.

Gregory Lee said...

Case histories, using split screen to show some of the considerations going through your mind as you go about constructing the work. Show us closeups and distant views at the same time; preliminary studies and where they're being put in the final project; the color schemes and the palette layouts you're using together with the painting that is taking form; other paintings that you're taking ideas from.


Anonymous said...

I'd like to see how you create your color strings (once you've done the gamut mapping). Specifically, how to mix the strings so the hue and saturation don't vary too much as you alter the value.

John Fleck said...

First of all this is welcome news! I know I have bugged you about making one at least once. And you couldn't make anything less than an effective art instruction DVD if you tried.
I have not seen a ton of them, but there are some things that bug me. Mainly a lack of conciseness and keeping to a plan. The artist/instructor will get sidelined on something of limited interest and waste a bunch of time on that. I have wondered more than once if there was a thought to editing this out at a later stage, but there it was anyway. I think expanding on concepts in your books would be great. I'm sure there are topics in your books that could be better or more fully explained with video and explanation than static images and text. I would like to see covered:
Plein air painting methods
Water-soluble colored pencil sketching
In studio oil painting from reference photos
Painting from a model
Managing an unruly parakeet
Color mixing
Palette thioughts
Rewarding a well-behaved parakeet
Yes, cost is a factor, as one always thinks of how many art supplies could be bought with X number of dollars. I would like a download method of delivery personally.
$30 feels right 1 1/2 - 2 hours
You have a good fan (student) base here, and I think this could sell quite well.
Would love a video that shows multiple pieces being completed in multiple media, basically. To get the most bang for the buck. I don't mind music if it's mixed fairly low. It can help with the flow if you're painting for a while without speaking.
Am looking forward to this James!

Dan dos Santos said...

Make it long. You may never get around to doing another DVD, and It'd be nice to have a real overview of your method, rather than just an introduction.

Also, try to keep it as real time as possible. It's so much easier to learn when you can see the artist actually mix, apply, and struggle with the paint. Everything looks brilliant in fast forward.

Marion Boddy-Evans said...

A DVD rather than download, because things take too long to download in not-so-super-highway land. Skip the fancy packaging.

No to music. It's invariably irritating and intrusive.

Move along at a good pace. Some instructional DVDs go at such a snail's pace that I've ended up watching them on fast forward.

Show closeups so you can see what's happening. Skip the talking head shots. We know it's you.

Price it low. Most art DVDs are so expensive I hardly ever buy them, even though I enjoy watching them.

Looking forward to seeing whatever it is!

Tryggvi Edwald said...

Great idea. My preferences:

Background Music: very low volume or skip altogether.

Length: 30-50 minutes, optimal at 40-45 minutes.

Price: depending on payment method, but a quick click + download would be painless up to 29.95$ Any more requires a bit of thought, and may cause me to forget to return to the site and buy it.

Media: Download preferred.
(I live in Europe; a physical mailing would cause a delay of several weeks, plus the involvement of the customs + payment of duties, all of which significantly reduce the enjoyment and impetus to buy.)

Camera angles: after an initial overview shot of placement of chair, easel, etc., focus on the palette, canvas, brush and hands.
As someone said: we know it is you.

Content: if possible to hear your own thoughts as you go along; on (say) ' ...little more blue here ...', '.. too dark here ..', etc., and follow how the painted work takes shape, that would be ideal. We can all go see a finished painting somewhere, what I want to learn is to think about the work.
(BTW: I got your 'Color and Light' book, great resource, and goes a long way. Seeing this kind of material 'live' as it takes form would help (me) a lot.

jane said...

My point of view is entirely biased, as I am quite deaf. Because of this (and living in Scotland, where these type of DVD's seem rarer) I have never actually watched one of these - I am not going to take the risk of spending lots of money on something I can't use - no art DVD I have looked at purchasing states whether it is subtitled or not. So I presume not.

Especially as the few I have seen on youtube are not. The voice recognition thing is a joke . . .

Never mind, I'll keep reading your books!

Kirk Witmer said...

Haven't read all the other comments so sorry if I'm repeating.
I would NOT want background music.

Pet Peeves:
1. Intro music not married to the same volume level as narration.
2. Bad diction. Nothing more irritating while watching a movie than having to turn on captions because actors were mumbling. You will know what you're saying but we will have to listen.

Price: As priceless as I'm sure this effort will be, as an artist who hasn't been selling, I don't think I could go for much more than about $50.

Commentary: YES, and constantly, even if it's just "thinking out loud" about why you're doing what you're doing, even if you have to do voice overs after the taping.

Visual: I know what you look like. I'm more interested in what your hands are doing.

No art history please.
Focus on the painting process.
Perhaps a little time spent on conceptualizing a painting? (Which could be the place to discuss composition?)

I'd prefer a DVD but it would be a great help if there were a menu for selecting lessons by topic.
Perhaps you could think about a series of inexpensive downloads (from a menu by subject), with some possibilities of:
The painting process
Building creature maquettes
Building architectural models
Lighting & Other Practical Apps
Making Photos to Paint From
Taking Photos of your Paintings

Thanks for taking this on James. I'll look forward to its completion. And I'm loving "Imaginative Realism" and "Color & Light"

Carol Scown-Raynal said...

Making a video would be great. If in DVD, It would be necessary to be able to read it in France and European format. We can't read overseas DVD's on our DVD readers.

Allen Douglas said...

I think it's important to make sure you have the film crew there long enough to see the painting through to completion, and be able to go through the process necessary after the painting is done as far as photographing it, etc.

You definitely have enough information to create multiple tutorials... Maybe you could create one for fantastic illustration, one for plein air, portrait, etc., possibly shooting them back to back to cut down on the expense.

Lago Arthur Studio said...

Hi James! My interest personally in instructional videos would be in the process--from concept to execution. As far as something obvious to be aware of in your video, please be sure to pan to the object you are painting often enough for people to follow along. A favorite artist of mine has a video where he is painting a model and you hardly see the model the entire time, just his painting. Hard to understand then how the artist translates the 3-d subject to a 2-d painting.

Christoffer Gertz Bech said...

When I make a painting that doesn't seem to behave the way I like, it's usually due to me rushing too fast through the preparatory stages. I tend to make a few thumbnails and quickly think "yeah, this one looks nice, it will do". I would love to watch a treatment of the whole thumbnailing process - how to recognize the one(s) that will work, how to see what will end up causing problems, how to force yourself to keep a critical view and not settle for the first, the best etc.

Also: The whole gamut mapping thing - particularly because I haven't seen it done/described the way you do it elsewhere. I'm sure you could make a lot of good points about pretty much anything, but this is a Gurney specialty.

As for music, I'd probably prefer it without, mostly because it would be hard to please everybody's taste. But then again, personally, I'd probably like some irish accordeon (I somehow have the idea that it would be an obvious choice if you include music ...)

And parakeet antics - of course!

R. Delight said...

I had a hard time not checking all the boxes. You probably have enough for several videos. I have paid up to $75 for a very professionally done and informationally dense art video from Robert Liberace at one of his workshops I took. I would buy more at the $30 range.
Music in between segments is nice but not during the instructional segments. Definitely need a menu with chapters that can be clicked on. I have both your books and like how the chapters are organized. I don't know how that would translate to video but definitely have the parakeet antics sprinkled in here and there!

Bill Gathen said...

I'd like to +1 some of the things mentioned above that I forgot in my first comment.

No music: if I want a score, I have an iPod. :-) I'm here to hear what you have to say.

A great teaser trailer is CRUCIAL. Try-before-you-buy. 60-90 seconds is plenty, but make sure it gives a taste of the best parts. Demonstrate you're capable, articulate and conveying interesting, useful information.

Then we can help you market! People can post links on their blogs, tweet it, put it on Facebook.

Make sure to include your URL at the end of the trailer so people can find you, then upload it to YouTube with a clickable link in the description. Once they want it, make it easy to get.

Exciting times!

Unknown said...

That's good news!
Many things has been said already I will probably repeat some, sorry.

I will start with the thing that always annoy me in art instruction video: Classical standards or even worse: happy-flower-in-the-field background music.
It's ok for 2-3min videos but in a full-lengh it becomes hypnotizing.

What I'd like to find in your dvd:
Your studio setup and material, to know what's the world your living in a how you use it, maybe as an intro. Your paining technique and why not, other techniques you know to give us a panel of what we can do with those good old oils/acrylics/watercolor... And I would like to hear what you think when you paint. I think it's important that you cover ALL the process from the very beginning to the very end until you get the printable file.

Chaptering is a good way for viewers to jump to what they want to watch. You could make a main video with several chapters on the making of an entire illustration. And other videos about technical things (brushes and paint, paint effects tips, light physics, other techniques, inspiration and how to grow it, outdoor painting, etc etc).

I would prefer a downloadable file.
Dvd will be great for the collector edition with 20+ hours of new content!! :)

Brudvik said...

Paint procedure. Underpainting, drawing, texture, how thick or thin the paint is, how much paint on the brush, hand movement.

Alison said...

I'd want to hear about lighting and color and how you do your light effects. I've learned a lot from your blog and book.

With so many art ed resources available I'd like to see some of the things that aren't as commonly covered. Composition is important but everyone does it. Either add something new or treat it lightly and save time for soemthing that isn't seen as often. I like seeing how you use maquettes.

For a video focus on doing not telling. What do the viewers need to see that is hard to just read about?

I agree with others, I'd like to watch you paint or draw and hear what is going through your head. How you make your decisions etc.

Colin said...

A video from you would be a wonderful thing. The following is, off the top of my head, what I'd like it to have (or not):

1) Please no music. It's distracting and I, personally, have a hard time differentiating sounds so the combination of music while trying to listen to instruction is near impossible for me.

2) Subtitles.

3) Shots of color mixing and gamut mapping strategies.

4) One painting from thumbnail sketches to completion would be great. See the process at work.

5)Honestly I like the idea of a "bloopers" section. I think that's hard for people to have in an instructional video but one of the aspects of a real classroom environment that I appreciate is when the instructor makes a clear error in their process, pauses, and says "whoops." Here's what I did, why its not what I want and this is how I'll correct it. I learn just as much from those moments as from when everything goes smoothly.

6) I'd prefer download and DVD options. Frankly I'm good with the 3 hours and $100 pricetag, like David Kassan's, but I realize 3 hours can be a bit much so even 2 hours at $100 is great. If I really want the process, the camerawork, the quality sound, and everything that makes a good DVD then I should expect to pay for your time and effort in making it.

frostfyre said...

So much good stuff in the comments. James, I'd gladly pay a subscription fee or per episode for regularly updated video content via a service like iTunes (and often do). I would suggest that you eventually do all of the topics listed, and dole them out serially. You could start each show with the fluffier bits, and then move into the meaty subjects.

You could publish on iTunes and Amazon, which would catch every mobile device out there, and then additionally release a physical product.

With a physical product, you could easily make it a premium product (we often do "special editions" of our games) with booklets/posters/tchochkes thus giving someone more incentive to purchase.

I'm really looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

Lydia said...


This is very exciting, I look forward to a longer Gurney video. (DVD preferred, download OK)
I have read your books in reverse order, Color and Light, followed by Imaginative Realism, and then I found a copy of An Artists Guide to Sketching and read that as well. I have already learned a great deal from your books and blog. Thanks.

This is already post #72, so I don't want to repeat what your other terrific readers and bloggers have already said except to reiterate how helpful it would be to hear what you are thinking during your process - and that would make this video uniquely Gurney.

For me personally, the whole nine yards - a work from concept to completion - would be ideal. And if you could include an option of subtitles, that would be an extreme bonus.

I am very interested to see a more in-depth demo on gamut masking and color strings.
One thing I would specifically find very helpful is a demo on how to create/paint a YURMBY color wheel. (Maybe that information is too basic for the majority of your readership. Perhaps that would be more appropriate as the topic of an optional short video. Or possibly your video could include an info box layover of where to find more information for unaddressed topics) In color theory class, I painted more traditional color wheels as described by Johannes Itten. While terrific exploration, my resulting wheels lack the subtle transitions that seem quite important in the gamut masking process.

A book or video which contains a real depth content is one I refer back to repeatedly.

Hope my 2-cents are useful.
Looking forward to the video!

Unknown said...

Loved your Color & Light and Imaginative Realism books - bought and read both. Thank you for opening up this forum, I have a strong opinion about this.

I think it would benefit many artists to have a section, maybe at the end of the dvd - to point out common mistakes and pitfalls developing artists make. And I don't mean simple tips for beginners. I've heard many times that what makes a great artist is his ability to see what is wrong with his own image as well as his ability to fix it... something like that. I would love to hear of all the many "breakthroughs" you've had over the years that prevented you from continuing to make rookie mistakes. For example, like how most colors tend to become more saturated as they move toward shadow and so forth.

After all, artists are buying your DVD to try to get better, and by offering up all of your knowledge that once wasn't so clear to you, you can put your fans on the fast track to creating beautiful work, such as yours.

Melanie said...

dislike background music

i like hearing useful pointers/trivia about the little things e.g. things to remember while mixing paint, what colours work what way and also maybe some interesting/inspiration stories. it makes the video somehow more personal

if prone to 'um' 'ahs' and moments of blankness, an option could be to talk while you video(easier to think spontaneously?), and then when editing do a voiceover.

I prefer a download video(of nice quality), but please leave out any introduction music if possible.. it's like every time you open a book a short jingle plays - gets annoying.

In practice you might do a "this is the wrong way" and "this is the right way" sort of approach - Seconding this from Richard

The videos of Matthew Archambault are very well presented and I learnt a lot from them(not to mention they were very repeat-watchable), but the dvd of scott waddell which I bought, i didn't like so much. I don't know if it's his voice or audio quality but i really really didn't like it even though he had great and advanced technique. There wasn't much explanation about colours either.

There doesn't have to be too much info at once - i think that's a danger. it's easiest/quickest to absorb when everything is put into layman terms, less fancy fluff.

I couldn't vote somehow but I would like you also to showcase your plein air painting skills as I think they are very awesome.

Jeremy Rice said...

Generally, I (personally) like the _really_ technical discussions... think Scott Waddell, whose videos I've gotten the most out of, so far).

Pet peeve: ego. Grrr. But I doubt that will be a problem with you. ;)

I don't care about features; the less, the better. I suppose that breaking the video up by chapters based on topic is handy, but that's it.

Background music is... meh. Who cares, either way?

Ideal running time: as long as it needs to be. No longer, and no shorter. :D I've watched very long instructional videos without problems, and still love a good, brief tutorial, too.

What makes you watch a video multiple times? ...Deep insights that vaguely register as "interesting" the first time, but which I think back to and wonder what I was missing.

The most I'd pay is probably $150, IF AND ONLY IF it felt like a "course"... with quite a long play time. If it's just an hour or two, $60. And for my money, I would rather have a download than a DVD... but would be willing to have either.

...Excited about the prospect of a Gurney video. :D Glad you're doing it!

Alex said...

Can't wait for the video or series! I'm going to be realistic. A great instructional video which I know you can deliver can not be confined to an hour or half an hour time frame. Particularly with the knowledge you possess in a variety of subjects. Personally I am interested in learning more about color gamut, lighting and composition although much more is needed in order to create masterpieces such as "Dinosaur Boulevard", "The Excursion", "Sinking of the Cumberland", "Sauropolis Gate", etc., etc.. I have learned a great deal thanks to your blog and both of your books "Color and Light" and "Imaginative Realism" and it will be great if you decide to make a video or several in each of the topics listed in your poll but to me having read both books, it would be even greater if you were to create a video or series where you incorporate all you have thought us into a single work of art similar to the ones I mentioned.

Emanuele Sangregorio said...

Hello, first time i comment something on your blog!

I just remembered a little passage from one of Andrew Loomis' books, telling that there ain't much to learn in how jimmy jones handles the brush, but there's a lot in how he handles light. So maybe timelapses wouldn't be as interesting as your lessons about color, light and mostly, since the medium greatly allows, maquetting and sculpting.

I've been looking for your books in Milan for a while but didn't have much luck. I'll order one soon from Amazon. Are you planning to come to Italy in the near future?

James Gurney said...

Emanuello, good insights. No plans to come to Italy at the moment, but it is one of my favorite places.

John Valente said...

This is great news, James! If it will be anything like your Color and Light book, you'll have a winner. I think your imagination is what makes you unique, and how you use maquettes, posing models, drawing from imagination, plein air painting of architecture and nature, your knowledge of color...all these things will help to make a very interesting video. And I think your sense of humor will make it your own, also. Also, helpful tips and common mistakes artists make are good things to cover. As for production values, I wouldn't worry too much about that--just have an organized DVD menu and keep the editing tight. I disagree with many of the comments here about not having any art history--it's art we're talking about here after all, aren't we??

Download and DVD, both options are necessary.

Having good close-ups with inset of palette is a must!

Look forward to seeing the video!