Podcasts about Painting

I’ve found that podcasts can serve as a great “distraction” to use while painting. Painting is a strange endeavor to undertake because it’s about as simple as it gets (holding a stick in your hand) and as complicated as anything possibly can be. For this reason I often suggest that students prepare some playlists or podcasts to listen to before they start a long day of work on a painting. As anyone who has had to prepare for a solo exhibition can testify, making a body of work takes a lot of time and long hours in the studio. So why not take it easy on yourself and listen to some podcasts while you work. Below I’ve compiled a list of my top ten favorite podcasts about painting. They’re all quite different, so once you’ve found the right one for you, get those headphones on and get to work!

Savvy Painter Podcast

Savvy Painter is a podcast done by Antrese Wood which features a variety of artists. Many of which who are interested in realism.

Artist Decoded takes a look at many up and coming artists in California

Sound and Vision Podcast talks with both musicians as well as many of the top emerging painters in the world. Visit their website here . This one is my top pick!

Gorky’s Granddaughter isn’t a podcast, but rather a series of videos where studio visits are done with artists who reside mainly on the East Coast of the US. The videos are great to watch, but I’ve also found these great listens as well.

Talking with Painters is a podcast our of Australia where painters talk about life and painting.

Painters Today is a podcast out of the UK which is put out monthly.

The Plein Air podcast talks with prominent Plein Air artists.

How to sell art is a podcast which focuses on the financial side of being a painter.

Best way for painters to get followers on Instagram

Making paintings is often accompanied with a desire to share it with the world. This has obviously changed over the years, from churches and palaces, to Museums and Galleries (a relatively new concept actually) , to artist run attractions like Meow Wolf. The goal is generally the same. Artists make stuff, people look at it. Instagram is the most popular social media site centered around images in the world, so it’s no wonder that painters are interested in it.

Painters often struggle with starting up a new Instagram account because there’s just such an overwhelming amount of content which is constantly churned out. It’s all basically competing for the attention of eyeballs. This has lead to people to change their artwork in an attempt to fit the format of Instagram’s layout (working in squares as opposed to rectangles) . There’s also evidence that people tend to stick around on light blue and pink colors (basically colors that pop) so a lot of Instagram imagery relies on neon colors to grab and keep people’s attention. Whether you want to make content like this is up to you.

So, if you’re starting out from scratch or very few followers. The first thing is to focus on friends and people close to you. Follow these people, and like their posts. Then you need to find out who your “tribe” is. Basically what are the type of artists you want to follow you. Who are the most valuable people to have in your circle. Don’t think about numbers here, think about getting people that will actually be interesting to have in your feed. If you’re a painting Instagram account, then I’d suggest only following painters who post a lot of images of their work. You don’t want your feed to become bogged down with pictures of people eating pizza with their dog. You want to look at paintings, so make an account especially for that (making multiple accounts on Instagram is quite simple, just google it out).

If you don’t know who your tribe is. Then go to my account here and browse through the different stories which I have categorized. There’s figurative work, abstract work, landscapes, interiors, and the list goes on. On top of this, there’s also a myriad of styles to choose from on top of that. Are you interested in people that paint hyperrealistically, or people that paint crudely? Are you drawn to people who paint quickly or slowly? Street art, or Museums? All of these are factors in figuring out just what artists you want to target.

Now that you’ve figured out which artists you like, it’s time to start following the most important people that they follow. This will give you more insight into their work, and it also lets Instagram know what type of artists you’re into. So it will suggest more of this sort of content. So, go to your favorite artist’s Instagram profile, and then click and see all of the people they’re following. There’s probably a ton of them and that’s going to be a pain in the ass to sort through right? But Instagram has simplified the process by offering a “suggested” tab in the top right corner.


Now start following people that interest you. Beware, don’t just blindly follow everyone in an attempt to get follow backs. Just follow people you actually like, and would like to see more of in your daily feed. You can follow a ton of people in a short period of time, I think Instagram limits the amount of accounts followed to something like 200 an hour. Which seems nearly impossible to reach if you’re actually going to each profile and seriously looking at the art on it.

Once you’ve started following a few hundred people. Start engaging in their content in a meaninglful way. Don’t come off as a bot, everyone is well aware that Instagram is full of them. Just write a comment on a work that you like. Hell, doesn’t even have to be a comment, could just be the unicorn emoji. But the more your comment actually discusses the work, the higher chance that the artist, and other people will actually read it. So write relevant comments on work that you like, from artists you follow.

Use Instagram stories to promote the work of artists you like, and highlight these works on your profile. Basically while browsing work you’ll see the little paper airplane button underneath the image. If you click this you have the option of putting the post on your insta stories. Stories are quickly becoming the number 1 way that people are browsing Instagram. It’s hard to stop thinking about posts as being something important, but they’re becoming less important as more people begin watching Insta Stories as compared to posts. So if you see a painting that you like pop up on your feed, post it to your stories.

Do something in the text portion below your post. A lot of people just blow this off, but people actually still read and writing is a perfect way to give more info about you as an artist, what you’re thinking about, what went wrong in painting, changes you made along the way, etc. People want to know what makes artists tick beyond the image itself. Use the text in your post to give your audience something to cling on to. Write, Write, Write.

Hashtags make a bit of a difference. Studies have shown that the top Instagram posts tend to only have around 6 to 8 hashtags. So don’t go overboard and just put in a massive amount of tags on your post. Keep them relevant, and be as laser focused as you can be. For instance, #contemporarypainting is probably better and gets more engagement with a specific audience as opposed to #painting where your content is more likely to become lost in a sea of images. In this video below you can see Gary Vaynerchuk, a social media guru, and inspirational speaker making the case on how to really increase the amount of followers and engagement that you can get on Instagram. This is often done by be extremely niche oriented. With painting this is quite simple actually since there are literally different genres of painting.

Once you’ve got the ball rolling start thinking about a way to organize your posts. For me, I take a video to give people a view on the process and what it looks like creating the work, I have images of my studio and my materials to give people an idea of where it’s made, and then I have a final image of the work. I use Insta stories for personal things (dog eating ice cream) as well as to give glimpses of works in progress. You can view my account for painting here .

All in all, I think that after all is said and done, the people I know who have amassed massive Instagram followings have also been extremely good at what they do, and they’re also just good people. They talk and give visiting artist workshops, meet people and write them DMs about certain pieces (don’t be afraid to slide into the DMs of an artist you admire) , and they’re constantly moving, meeting new people, and bringing them into their circle. Do not blindly believe that more followers will equal more exposure or success. A lot of followers on Instagram are worthless, hell, a lot of them aren’t even real people. So focus on connections in real life, and then continue these connections online. In closing, feel free to watch this documentary called Press, Pause, Play. It’s basically just about how artists use social media. It’s a bit dated, but it’s still an interesting look at to how artists interact and create online audiences.

Do Oil Pastels Dry?

Oil pastels are great fun to play with, and they’re the perfect companion to have if you want to paint and sketch on the go. But there is one problem. They don’t ever fully dry. This is because oil pastels are actually made with mineral oil, and this is very different than the linseed oil which is used in traditional oil pastels. In addition to the mineral oil, oil pastels also contain wax which, as we all know, as not something that ever fully dries either.


So to answer the question. Oil pastels will never fully dry out on their own. They may get a bit of a protective layer on them over the years. But you’ll still be able to scratch oil pastels off with your fingernail even decades after finishing a piece.

But. There’s a solution to this! A few different companies have made some products which can be sprayed onto an oil pastel piece once it is finished, and it will seal the surface. The best one on the market comes from Sennelier and is available via the link below. Another option is to simply use a fixative on top of it. These are available via Krylon and other brands.

One thing to watch out for when using these sprays, is that if you spray an excess amount of these products onto your drawing it will cause them to run. This may seem cool, if you’re going for that effect, but if you’re not, then you just ruined your work. It’s best to spray your piece about 12 inches away with a fine mist, then wait a few minutes, and do another fine layer. You don’t want the spray to pool up anywhere on the drawing. If spraying your painting after you’ve finished your work isn’t your thing. Then maybe oil bars will be a better fit. Oil bars are made by a number of different manufacturers , there’s some from Winsor and Newton, as well as Sennelier. The benefit of using these bars, is that basically they’ve got a waxy outer coating on them, and are filled with a semi hardened form of oil paint. So you can paint with these, and blend with them, and it’s basically like using an oil pastel, but one that dries to the consistency of oil paint. They are a bit “wetter” so you can’t really work the surface with multiple colors as you can with the traditional oil pastels, but personally I just love Oil Bars. I use both in my work.

An alternative to oil pastels is pigment sticks or oil bars. Both are traditionally pigmented materials containing wax and linseed oil instead of non-drying mineral oil. Due to the wax, they never become truly solid, but an artist who likes the feel of oil pastel—yet wants the finished artwork to dry to a fairly high degree of hardness—may find pigment sticks or oil bars a satisfying alternative. This medium can be varnished with a number of traditional resin varnishes made for oil paintings.

Deep Work and Painting

Concentrating on something is difficult. And it’s a practice which is only becoming more difficult as we are now expected to answer emails around the clock, and juggle a million open tabs. All of these distractions create an environment which is corrosive to creative pursuits. The concept of “Deep Work”, a term coined by Cal Newport , states that “Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It's a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time.” . Now, it’s no wonder that the book became a success with tech bros around the world. It focuses on things corporations love like “efficiency” and constant improvement. Cal is a computer scientist, and assistant professor at Georgetown University, so one may wonder what a computer scientist could teach a painter about learning how to paint? However, one can apply the concept of Deep Work to a variety of occupations and practices.

Before we get any further check out this video which summarizes some of his key points.

Here are some of the key points from the video

Creating value as it pertains to making art is simple. Paintings are something that become valuable because of who created them. They are one of a kind items that are difficult to replicate in a mass produced world. The value of your paintings is dependent on your notability as an artist, your professionalism as it pertains to your presentation, and your skill.

Your skills as a painter are often of the highest concern. Often one forgets that there is a skill in the simple technical aspects of painting. Such as how the paint is applied to the canvas, how good (or bad) the drawing is, how the colors work in a piece, etc. Through working deeply, and focusing intensely on painting you will learn all of these techniques through sheer exploration and time spent painting.

This is hard to replicate using any other forms of learning. It seems cliche, but learning is best done by doing. We can read and learn how to work smarter, but nothing replaces a hands on approach where one must confront materials, and colors.

What makes a painting valuable? It’s easy to get cynical and think that the art world is all about who you know, and money, and to some extent there are serious concerns . But what makes some painters rise to the top? Is it because they went to Yale? Maybe, that surely helps with their exposure, but outside of looking at an academic pedigree, how do we determine that a work of art is something “good” ? Generally this can be assessed by looking at an artist’s skill, and skills are generally achieved by engaging in some sort of hard work. With painting, a simple place to start can often be drawing, which is frustrating to students because they want to paint before they can draw. This is basically like trying to run before you can walk. In the Vermeer detail below we can see that tremendous care was taken when painting the hand. It was something that is the result of years of focused study, and it’s easy to see the value of this hand just by looking at it.


Lets contrast this against this painting by Philip Guston. Here the paint is applied crudely, and the palette is only a few colors. Reds, pinks, and blacks. Yet the painting is still very strong compositionally, as well as conceptually. Without getting too much into the techniques of Philip Guston, or whether or not you think this is “good” is irrelevant. What’s important is that you begin to see that by working continuously and purposefully there will be results which resonate with others who will begin to see value in your work.


So how do we learn to master hard things quickly, and produce at the elite level needed to get attention and exposure in the highly competitive art market? You do so my turning your routines into habits. The simplest way to do this is to schedule your time, and make sure that you will be distraction free for a few hours a day. Start slowly, for many they have no idea just how difficult it is for them to exist distraction free. It’s a bit of a jolt to come out the digital daze of social media which is designed to keep us glued to our phones. They are fighting for your attention, and often, they are winning. Treat social media, and the internet as something to use as a tool, and for leisure. Don’t make it something which controls your life. Even turning off the sound on your phone for a few hours a day, and unplugging to focus on the task of painting or drawing will yield strong results in a short amount of time. Another simple hack to get better at painting fast, is to make sure that your painting area is always set up and ready to go. Don’t allow for yourself to procrastinate by fussing around with setting up the easel and your paints, you’ll be annoyed before you even begin. Have surfaces ready to paint on at the ready, and all your materials need to be easily accessible.

Once you are done with your designated deep work time, don’t be afraid to relax and do something completely unrelated. It’s important to create some sort of shutdown ritual for when you finish to help your mind transition back to the other world. With painting this can be something as simple as taking a Work In Progress shot of your painting, and cleaning your brushes. Then get back home and relax! Watch a stupid romcom or take a long bubble bath.

In addition to taking some time off to let your brain recharge, also be aware of how much time is dedicated to background noise. If you are working out, or commuting to work, or just walking around the block, these can all be great ways to get your brain into a state where you can work out real problems you are dealing with in your work. Take advantage of these and keep a sketchbook, or mini notebook handy to write down ideas that come to you during these moments without background noise.

It’s interesting that in 2019, people are still quite concerned with getting better at painting. It’s a practice which many still want to master. I would like to argue that many associate painting with a type of Zen practice where their mind is allowed to wander. But really, painting is all about focusing on something very intensely for a short period of time. We like to think of the Renaissance painters as gods, but they also simply got tired, and there’s little doubt that they all needed to put in thousands of hours of drawing and painting before they could climb up the scaffolding and paint a ceiling of a church.

Top 10 Docs About Painting


One of the techniques of legendary coach Phil Jackson was to have his players imagine that they were playing a game, and making a shot. As you may have already noticed, painting is an addiction. Some people dabble for years before becoming fully imbibed in the medium, and others get hooked right away. No mistake about it though that painting can begin to seep into every are of your life. Since I’m far down the rabbit hole I’ve watched every documentary about painting that I can find. Some are on Youtube, while others are on Netflix and Amazon Prime. Regardless, you’ll be able to hunt these docs out online and watch them in your free time.

So without further ado here are my top 5 documentaries about painting.

10. Beauty is Embarrassing

Beauty is embarrassing is a film about Wayne White. Wayne was influential in creating the sets for some of the most iconic TV shows (Pee Wee’s Playhouse) and music videos (Smashing Pumpkins). His approach to art is one which involves a lot of making rather than talking. He scoffs at the pretension with which artists feel they need to speak about in order to convey the ideas about their work to an audience. He’s someone who isn’t afraid to play, and works with a variety of mediums. From sculptures made of cardboard, to revitalized thrift store paintings. Wayne White is a tremendous look at what artist/creative looks like today in the world.

9. Jodorowski’s Dune

Alejandro Jodorowski is one of the most visionary living film directors living today. This documentary looks at the creative process involved in the creation of his films. At first glance this may seem to be a documentary about making a movie, and it is, but it’s also about the vision of artists like H.R. Gieger and Moebius who were influential in crafting the look of the film. It’s a wonderful look at how creative individuals can work together and create a new vision which simply hadn’t existed before.

8. Art and Craft

Arts and Crafts follows the life of a forger. But not one who is interested in profits. Rather he is a character who gifts his forged paintings to museums, and he gets off on the fact that they actually show them, and his fakery goes unnoticed. It’s also a tale which gives an interesting insight into museums in the heartland of the US, which often may not be thought about too much, but still contain magnificent collections of paintings. The documentary is set up as a tale between a registrar, who is on the look out for the fakes, and the forger who is trying to go unnoticed.

7. Tim’s Vermeer

In Tim’s vermeer we follow the story of Tim ( a wealthy American inventor) who sets off to recreate a Vermeer painting. He takes the approach that the gadgetry involved in the painting, is what made it possible to create, and he sets off to paint his own copy of a Vermeer with no prior painting knowledge.

6. Cave of Forgotten Dreams

In this film we go back to the cave paintings and the people who control the access to them. A film by Werner Herzog, he follows around a strange cast of characters who are in charge of allowing people into ancient caves where drawings and paintings were done tens of thousands of years ago. The cinematography is amazing, and this film was actually made in 3d as well. So if you get a chance to see it in the theater , make sure you do!

5. Exit Through the Gift Shop

In this documentary we look at the life of one of the most famous, and unknown artists in the world. Banksy. Known for coming up making stencils and spray painting them near ATMs Banksy has become one of the most famous artists living today. This is a great doc mostly about a person, rather than techniques, however it’s an interesting look at how an artist creates a persona.

4. The Radiant Child

This is a doc about Jean Michel Basquiat, one of the most famous artists of the 1980s. Basquiat became well known for his sporadic and jittery paintings done on trash. He later collaborated with Andy Warhol and is now his paintings are some of the most valuable in the world. Basquiat died quite young, but this doc really digs into what an explosive and radiant life he led while he was alive.

3. Painters Painting

Here we’re given a glimpse of the New York art world in the middle of the 20th century. The full doc is currently available on Youtube, and it offers a great look into what the most important painters, in one of the most important painting cities (NYC) were doing and thinking. A must watch for anyone studying painting.

2. Gerhardt Richter Painting

Gerhardt Richter is one of the most famous painters living today. He started off doing photorealistic paintings of clouds and his daughter in the 70s, and slowly progressed to creating these gorgeous large scale works using a squeegee and heaps of oil paint. This doc gives a fantastic profile of the artist himself, his thoughts about his work, as well as a smorgasbord of lovely painting porn.

  1. The Mystery of Picasso

    Picasso painting, smoking, and painting some more. Much of this documentary is simply just Picasso painting, and what more do we really need? As a documentary it kind of breaks the mold in this way, but I’m guessing when you are tasked with documenting the work of arguably the most important artist of the 20th century are you going to add a bunch of your own creative license, or just let the artist be an artist. Give this one some time, and you’ll never see Picasso the same way after watching his own frustration with his work begin to come into focus.

What Matt Bollinger can teach us about figure painting

All of our days are filled with a series of small events. With the advent of insta stories and social media we can now flip through all these memories in real time. Jumping around in points in time with ease. Matt Bollinger’s paintings seem to capture these moments through the lens of someone akin to a documentary film maker. And it’s not a mistake that Bollinger has recently begun making his own animated films from his paintings.


For this assignment I’ve asked you to take a picture of a figure in an exterior environment. The figure can be doing anything. Waiting for a tram, or eating ice cream. It doesn’t matter. Since you are photographing a stranger, your options can obviously be limited. But even within a multitude of snapshots you will be able to find small compositions which begin to work. Consider cropping your images, and zooming in to certain sections. Maybe the head and expression in a photo are terrible, but the hands are good. Try to find these small compositions. Look for some action happening in photos, whether it is someone taking a cigarette out of a box, or putting something into their purse. See if it’s possible for you to craft some sort of narrative, even with a simple snapshot. You are capturing people, but you are also capturing very common every day activities.


Feel free to also use yourself as a subject. Your hands can come into the photos, or your reflection can be in a mirror. Let your stories that make up the diary of your life begin to seep into the work. And as a general rule, the less staged the better for this assignment.

Also, if you haven’t done so already. Follow and look at the artists on the instagram for the course.

Look at the different sections there. Landscape, Figure in interior, Abstract, Pop , etc. and think about which one of these subjects resonates best with you, and what artist/style appeals the most to you.

Should you hate Jeff Koons?

Jeff Koons is a cariacature of the art world. A stock trader turned painter in the cocaine driven excesses of the 80s .. He’s an artist that’s extremely easy to hate for a variety of reasons. He’s crude, he’s juvenile, vacuous, an icon of late capitalism, and worst of all he comes off as insincere. Take a look at the video below of Koons’ interview with Art Historian Robert Hughes (I highly recommend watching all of American Visions by the way).

I’m not interested in dissecting deeply the “hidden motives” at play in Koons work. I think the conceptual framework has been better looked at in recent articles that have come out since his retrospective in London. I am interested in looking at what it is that drives us mad about Koons, and what it says about painting today.

Often when the subject of Jeff Koons as a painter comes up, it isn’t long before the fact that he relies completely on the work of studio assistants to make his work is discussed. How can an artist not even touch his own work? A great article on the subject is I Was Jeff Koons’s Studio Serf


Here we are given the account of what it takes to create a Jeff Koons painting. A studio employee is given a very specific task, with specific instructions on how to create the painting. The paint is to be applied in a certain manner, and very specific colors are to be used. One has to wonder if it’s the instructions that turn people off to this mode of creation, or the fact that someone is an employee. If instructions are bad, then why even bother trying to examine how great works of art were made in the past, and attempt to recreate these same working methods? Isn’t this essentially following a set of instructions? As it relates to “employees” (Studio assistants) making a work of art, this also has some historical precedence. It wasn’t uncommon for people like Rembrandt to have an entire studio of artists all working on his paintings. Rembrandt looked at a huge canvas, and saw that a blue gradient needed to painted first and he was like “I aint got time for that” and told one of his assistants to do it. However, there’s one glaring difference between Koons and Rembrandt, and that’s the fact that Rembrandt touched his paintings in the end. Koons never lays a finger on them, he just tells other people what to do.


However, lets think about what’s really wrong with keeping your hands off of a project? Some of the greatest Film directors of all time aren’t splicing film or moving the mouse to edit certain sections of a film. They’re telling other people what to do, and in doing so, they’re trying to make a product that is either A) Marketable or B)Art . In Koons’ case he’s doing both. There’s no doubt that he’s playing with ideas involving consumerism, and it’s not a coincidence that he came to prominence at the height of capitalist excess. So, doesn’t this make him a pretty good artist who was able to catch the zeitgeist of the moment? We shouldn’t be shocked that his aluminum steel bunny set a record at auction. That’s what it was supposed to do. Sure, the reflection in the side of that bunny may represent the vacuous nature of the art market, but it also reflects us.

What to look for in an artist residency

Artist residencies are a great way to get away from the daily grind, get a nice line on your CV, and to develop your vision as an artist. With all of the residencies popping up all around the world (including some which are a bit dubious) it’s important to really know what you want to get out of an artist residency. And the answer to this question is going to vary based upon your intentions.


First off, lets look at some websites that list different residencies. The two most well known are TransArtists and Resartis . On these sites you can sift through different residencies based upon media, and location. Now, lets say you want to search for “Prague Residencies” and you find a few different options pop up. What is going to distinguish one from another? Well, first of all you need to decide if you’re looking to pay for a residency, or if scholarships are available, or if you will receive a stipend (Yes, there are residencies which pay). Beware of residencies that aren’t up front about the money. They should clearly list if you’re paying, or if they’re paying.

Now, once you’ve found your dream residency, you’ve got to consider how long can you leave. Are you in a good position where leaving work for a month is something which is financially possible? Are you looking for something shorter, and more like a weekend retreat? Assess your goals, and desires, and what you want to get out of the residency. Which brings me to the next point.


What do you want to get out of the residency? :) Ok, so some residencies like Skowhegan, Vermont Studio Center, McColl Center in Charlotte, NC , Redline in Denver, and Oxbow are simply just good things to have on your CV, but that’s not exactly why people go to them . Look at other artists who have gone to these residencies, and see if your work seems like it would blend in well. Is this a place where you can really learn, and grow? Or are you looking for a glorified vacation? If it’s the latter, then I’d warn you, because the stress of having to make work, after not creating for a while, may not be the relaxing experience which you had anticipated.

Know what you want to work on. Perhaps you’re someone who can plop down anywhere, and just start making art. You’re in the zone, and you know how to do that “thing” that you do whether you’re in a kitchen, or a barn. For others this can be more difficult. Which is why it’s important to really think about what it is that you want to get out of the residency. Is there a specific theme, or idea you want to explore? Does the geographic location of the residency lend itself well to working in a specific manner? Are you going to be in a situation where you are meeting, and eating with all the other artists, or are you looking for something more solitary? Get clear about these things before you go.


Make work before you leave. I say this to my students all the time. You’ve got to simply just be making work all the time. That could simply be just once a week, but it needs to be part of your routine. The more comfortable you are making work in your studio/home, the more comfortable you’ll be making it when you leave. Take at least a month before you leave to develop a routine that allows to get comfortable with creating.

Once you’ve delved into all of these subjects.