I have been an art instructor for F+W for almost five years now, teaching the live art workshops online. As you probably know, F+W is the parent publishing company of North Light Books and several art magazines sold in stores around the world. I have been invited three times to produce instructional videos and art workshops in all leading mediums. The first two times I went was with my wife and our dog in our motorhome–we even camped on F+W parking lot. I call the RV “The Paint Mobile.” (Thanks to the ability of easy and not having to pay for hotels, I’ve been able to create many plein air paintings all over North America.) The F+W office is about the size of a supermarket in square feet and from what I have seen it is an all-American company. The district where it’s located is an area where quite a few well-known, large companies are established. It reminded me of Silicon Valley, CA. It was fun to drive around and see their buildings with manicured lawns.
Cincinnati seems to be an upscale city in general. It has one of the largest zoos. The downtown area has a view that you could swear is New York City before the construction of the Empire State building. The architecture of the “Roebling Bridge” is even based on the Brooklyn Bridge. I was told they filmed a segment of a movie there to give the impression of going back in time to an earlier New York view. Perhaps it was for the TV series, “Forever.” The bridge separates Ohio from Kentucky.
Filming the Art Workshops
Now we go to the F+W video studios. This is a separate building from the main office I referenced above; it’s about a 10 minute drive from headquarters. It has four HD cameras, and the setting is like a TV sitcom, which when zoomed in with the camera, makes it appear that you’re in a personal, tidy studio, but the walls next to the working area are bare and there are cables all over the floor.
I was to do four paintings in one week: two in oils and two in acrylics. (These will be on sale in a few months.) After careful study and tweaking, above are the finished paintings, Lewis Falls, The Grand Teton, Acadia National Park Coastline, and the Grand Canyon, respectively.
Jennifer Lepore, a very friendly lady with lots of energy, was in charge of the production. You can tell she loves her job. She is very meticulous and does not leave a stone unturned. She watches like a hawk for any discrepancy. In fact, on the first day of filming I mentioned that all of us were doing the exact job we wanted and that we were fortunate. They all agreed.
The filming started at 10:00 but we all arrived earlier. When we started filming, the hardest part for me was giving the introduction and the sign off on each art workshop. That took several takes. It felt awkward and artificial because I was speaking to a camera, however, once I got into the teaching and painting mode I was in the zone and the filming went like a breeze. It seems that every time I teach online art workshops or I get filmed, the only thing that doesn’t stress me is the actual painting process and the instructional part. I had the whole day to do each painting and was able to finish early each time. I think the camera crew appreciated this.
F+W connects the artists with the staff that they work with, and so I had a lunch visit with Jamie Markle, the Vice President and Group Publisher. Because I work closely with F+W, I’m in touch with several people. Jamie is a very sociable person and likes to listen. You feel comfortable with him right away. I also met Cherie Haas, the online editor for ArtistsNetwork. She never stopped smiling as soon as she entered the board room. She reminded me of my recent grand-daughter, who was born with a smile. Also present was Ric, the video editing manager, who you can tell wouldn’t be happy if he didn’t have the job he has. The photographer and videographer, Christine, who is also an artist, laughed all the time–she made me feel like I was a professional comedian. She finds humor in everything. She took part in assembling my book, Landscape Painting Essentials. We all chatted and had a good time.
The whole experience made me totally feel like a professional artist. The five days went by fast, and then off we were back to Canada. Fortunately, my hometown was just one day’s drive away. I’m ready to start my next project, the next sequence of live online art workshops.
“Landscape Painting Essentials” and other video courses are available at NorthLightShop.com. North Light has also just released a new eBook written by Johannes titled Landscape Painting Essentials. Join his online art classes at http://improvemypaintings.com.
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