Speed Painting 101… A How-to Part I

Posted: August 29, 2015 in Art Technique
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

My wife asked me this morning if I ever wrote a post about speed painting and how I do it. I don’t know that I ever have and it is such a big part of what I do. I think it was a great idea and so over the next few days I am going to do just that. Let’s start off with the basics.

Why Speedpainting?
The first question one might have is why would you do speed painting? After all it would seem a bit stressful to attempt to paint a large painting is six minutes or less. Actually, that’s part of what makes it fun. I’m about to use a dirty word for ministry. Speed painting is performance. It’s meant to be done live before an audience. I don’t speed paint in my studio (unless I am practicing). The reason for that is simple. Speed painting is more about the creation of the art than it is about the art. What I am shooting for is an experience. I want to keep the people guessing what I am doing for as long as possible. I want them to be engaged. I want them to be drawn in to the story I am telling. A studio piece is about creating a work of art that will stand the test of time. A performance piece is about creating engagement and a memory.

I will often say a speed painting is not the best piece of art I can do, but it is the best I an do in six minutes. This in itself can be a lesson. So often we artists will lament the conditions, supplies or lack thereof, etc. Speed painting is about doing the best you can with what you have in the allotted time. I want people to come away from one of my speed paintings, ready to hear a story and ready to tell the story of what they just saw and heard.

Speed painting is meant to capture people’s attention and draw them in to something bigger, the message itself. People often have very limited attention spans. If I am going to paint live, it’s got to be done quickly, so it’s not like… well… like watching paint dry.

The plan…
Because speed painting by it’s very nature needs to be done quickly, a plan is often important. For the most part, I never sketch the piece on the surface. (It’s not wrong to sketch and I know many artists who do, I just like it this way.) Occasionally, especially if I am planning on urging two pieces into one, I will add a few guidelines to make sure the elements that need to line up, do so, but otherwise, I like to let it flow.

Simplicity is key. Details are slow and we don’t have time for slow. I always start by breaking the item down into it’s basic shapes. This is drawing 101 but it really comes into play here. When I paint a face for example, I will often start by painting a cross on the “canvas.” People assume that I am trying to spiritualize things, and to an extent, I am (remember, I am always trying to draw people in), but that cross form also helps to line up the eyes and nose. Other times I will just work in a few basic forms and work around them. Even in this, the story is king, so anything I can do that will draw people in to that story is really worthwhile.

We’ll continue with this in a later post. Here is an example of me speed painting a lamb.

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Comments
  1. […] been posting these posts (1,2,3,4) to tell you about how to do the actual paintings and there is more to come, but I wanted to […]

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