Yes­ter­day, an artist friend asked me some ques­tions about how I make videos of my art­work process. Hmmm…let me see.….

I’ll be the first to admit it — the last thing I think about as I’m about to start a paint­ing is to set up the video cam­era and hit record. In my rush to cre­ate, it’s not a habit that I’ve got­ten into, and yet it’s one of the best ways to share tech­nique, infor­ma­tion and tips with other artists. After all…isn’t that what it’s all about? Get­ting bet­ter and being the best we can be?

I’m resolved to do bet­ter at this in the future so look for some addi­tional video tips…and if I don’t get them done, then DOG me and remind me I said it here.

Here is a video that I recorded when I was of sound mind and had every­thing ready to go. When time lapsed, it helps me to review my own process in mak­ing an under­paint­ing and also to share, from con­cept to fin­ish — how a work is cre­ated with other artists and some of my students.

Pretty cool, huh? I got “into” it when I fin­ished this paint­ing, and missed hit­ting the “Play” but­ton for Episode 2. Live and Learn…I have to make this a bet­ter habit.

I’d like to share some tips with you on things I have found help­ful in the process of pro­duc­ing your own artist’s video.


Light­ing — make sure that your work­ing area is well lit. You can see in my video, the sun moves back and forth across the room a lit­tle bit and it’s not as well lit as it could be. I don’t mind this, because it’s a reflec­tion of my work­ing stu­dio and it doesn’t seem to inter­fere with the video qual­ity too much. I could also have adjusted this in the edit­ing phase, but just got too excited to upload it and share. If you’re set­ting up light­ing for the cam­era — make sure that you do some cross-lighting with about three floods if you need them, all from dif­fer­ent angles and that don’t con­flict with what you need for your paint­ing light, or cast an Alfred Hitchcock-like sil­hou­ette of you on the can­vas while you’re work­ing. Not so pretty.


Canon Vixia HFS200

Canon Vixia HF S200

Get a GOOD tri­pod and leave it setup in your stu­dio all the time. I actu­ally use my EasyL Easel tri­pod that came with my plain air kit. It rocks, is light and folds up into a handy carry kit that I’ve packed on and off planes with­out any secu­rity trou­ble. Make sure your cam­era is charged and ready to go all the time, or that you have a power sup­ply (and a neatly tucked away cord sys­tem) so you don’t have to trip over it in your studio.…(that’s hap­pened to me, I’m such a klutz!).

Make sure that you have the best cam­era angle to your easel. If you have more than one cam­era, by all means shoot at sev­eral angles so that you have inter­est­ing cam­era shots to edit together in post-production. This is where it’s cool for artists inter­ested in film­ing more often, to have a cou­ple of inex­pen­sive Flip cam­eras to use. (see below)

Rule #1: Buy the best video cam­era you can afford. Film in HD.

We have a Canon Vixia HFS 200 that is super and we’ve dragged it across Canada, film­ing in var­i­ous light­ing con­di­tions for many dif­fer­ent projects. We also use two FLIP Ultra HD cam­eras.  (You can get one through our Ama­zon affil­i­ate store page — they are under Film, Cam­eras and Media) They’re super portable and great for plein air or mobile work. We use our iPhones some­times, but usu­ally that’s a spur of the moment thing and I never have a proper tri­pod setup for it.

We also have a GoPro that we use. My hus­band Kevin is into aer­ial video pho­tog­ra­phy. You can learn lots of techie stuff from him over at RCHe­li­me­n­ace if you’re into gim­bals, gyros and trans­ceivers («that’s all GEEK to me. I have no idea what they are, but he does, so if you’re interested…ask him!)

The GoProHD Hero2 has a lovely wide-angle view set­ting and a fish-eye set­ting too so that you can get some super-wide panoramic shots if you need them. It’s a tiny lit­tle thing. You’ll feel like you’re some­one out of Mis­sion Impos­si­ble. This cam­era is one of the most used action-filming cam­eras in the ski indus­try. It also mounts on a hel­met, the truck or any move­able object which makes it great for hik­ing shots and var­i­ous other shots that require a small cam­era in a fast-moving envi­ron­ment. Here’s one of our fam­ily favourite videos by Jeb Corliss, “Grind­ing The Crack”. It takes our breath away every time. Maybe a bit more adren­a­lin than I get in the studio…but close some­times! You can see the high qual­ity that the GoPro gives. Fun lit­tle toy with some power packed into it!


Do what you do best. Film­ing is about telling a story, so think about what you might want to tell…before you tell it. Make a plan and have it ready. Look for a begin­ning, a mid­dle and an end.

In this case, I sim­ply wanted to “tell” about my process from sketch and through a final paint­ing. It would be bor­ing to sit through three or four hours of watch­ing me paint but think­ing ahead artis­ti­cally, about HOW to tell this, I thought it would be good to speed up the film in a time-lapse and show it that way. Most folks are awed at the process of the artist, but don’t have the patience to truly under­stand what goes into this…or watch you paint.…or watch your paint dry. How you tell the story is as impor­tant as the story itself.

A three minute video is about what you should be shoot­ing for in this online video medium. Folks are used to the “three minute” rule and as you can see, it’s pretty sim­ple to find a three minute song that accom­pa­nies the story. That’s about as long as you’re going to keep their atten­tion. In this case, Lyle Lovett’s “If I Had A Boat” was the sound­track to my film, and appro­pri­ate for the intent of the visual art piece.

Art­ful Editing

I work with Final Cut Pro Stu­dio. It’s a mas­sive edit­ing suite that most pro­fes­sional film­mak­ers rely on, and the only place I can see where it’s still avail­able is through Ama­zon, although some retail­ers might still have it kick­ing around. There is a new ver­sion that Apple has come out with, Final Cut Pro X now, not nearly as expen­sive as my orig­i­nal soft­ware copy, but reviews are mixed. I can’t rec­om­mend or diss it, as I haven’t tried it, although I’ve had a look at the inter­face and it looks much eas­ier and intu­itive than the older FCP ver­sion. It retails through the Apple Store for $299 Cana­dian. I haven’t switched over to that yet, as I’m still comfy with Final Cut Pro Stu­dio which includes other mod­ules such as Motion Graph­ics (the bumper that sets up the front end and back end of the video above…which I love and could play with for­ever), Colour, and Sound­track Pro.

My sons use iMovie and they are whizzes at it… which is won­der­ful, but I’ve grown accus­tomed to FCP now, so find iMovie not quite all there for the things I ulti­mately require when mak­ing artful-type movies.

If you aren’t a tech lover, I’d sug­gest iMovie as it has a much lower learn­ing curve. How­ever, if you’ve got your eye on “Hol­ly­wood” and want­ing to learn enough to pro­duce some pretty fancy videos, you can learn FCP Stu­dio through Both ver­sions of train­ing are there for FCP Stu­dio and FCPX. They have a fab­u­lous train­ing library which is always being updated and the instruc­tors are fan­tas­tic, knowl­edge­able and easy to under­stand. All in your own time, on your own com­puter and really rea­son­ably priced at around $25.00 a month for a subscription.

I edited the video above, “Self Por­trait In Canoe” for use in an instal­la­tion for an exhi­bi­tion that I did in 2010. Con­vert­ing old fam­ily footage and splic­ing it all together with FCP, I spliced Johnny Cash’s ren­di­tion. The video actu­ally played inside a real canoe in the gallery, sur­rounded by objects from my life and that of my co-artist for the show, Don Ahnahn­sisi McIn­tyre.

Dis­tri­b­u­tion — Your Own Stu­dio System

Not much good hav­ing a great video and not shar­ing it. I like to host my videos on other sites rather than my blog. This increases the traf­fic and the shar­ing. And you know how much I love to share!  YouTube, Vimeo, Veoh, Dai­ly­Mo­tion,, Meta­cafe are all video chan­nels to which I post my video content.

What?!…you say? That will take me for­ever. How do I do all that, paint, deal with social media, mar­ket­ing, yadda…yadda…yadda.

Easy-peasy, I say. There is a fab­u­lous ser­vice called Tube­Mogul that will upload your video in one shot to all your chan­nels and give you some rock­ing stats by which to gauge your dis­tri­b­u­tion suc­cess or fail­ure. I love Tube­Mogul, and it’s easy to use. MGM…move aside. Inde­pen­dent inter­net dis­tri­b­u­tion is here!

Now I real­ize that this post is a bit gen­eral in focus. I’ll expand on the top­ics on future Art­ful Techie Tuesdays.


GREAT Related Posts:

Alyson Stanfield’s Art Biz Blog — 4 Quick Videos To Use In Your Art Marketing 

  • beck­yjoy

    Good post Jan­ice, really enjoyed it. And, picked up a cou­ple of bits of new info.

    • Jan­ice Tanton

      Glad to hear that Becky! If you have any sage advice, feel free to share it! :) Best of luck with your videos. Look­ing for­ward to see­ing them.