Comparing Art Video Time-Lapse Lengths and Styles

In this post, I want to take a step back and compare the different types of art videos I’ve shared on the YouTube channel. Basically, comparing art video time-lapse lengths and styles. I’ve really been making an effort over the last couple of months to get some varied content onto the channel. And one of the motivating questions at the heart of this effort is: What sort of art videos generate the most interest? A couple of months ago, I was looking at the videos I had uploaded to YouTube. Most of them were short time-lapses just set to music – I was basically just using YouTube to host videos that I’d then embed in my WordPress posts. But I noticed something looking at the view counts. It seemed the few videos featuring me talking, which were mostly product reviews, seemed to do better. I started to wonder about what is popular within their ecosystem.

I often make sudden, snap decisions at random times to try things. It was like that way when I first tried painting this past October, when I started my review website, and many other things. An idea may simmer for a bit, but then there’s a sudden impulse that says, “now is the time” and I dive in. I often can’t even pinpoint the exact why of the impulse. It was like that with deciding to make a push on YouTube content. I wanted to see what happens when I surge for a short period of time, maybe weeks or months, and pull all of the YouTube levers I could. This included really getting after the narrated discussions of paintings, but also going all-in on their Shorts feature, which consists vertically oriented quick videos (similar to TikTok or Instagram Reels). I was correct that these videos with discussion and audio commentary are more popular than the ones just set to music…but I had no idea Shorts were so widely viewed.

Lately, I’ve made the effort to start recording in 4K resolution and to attempt to share every painting to YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels. Then, as fast as I could come up with scripted content, I would take a longer version of paintings and share a more traditional video with narration. In hindsight, I’m quite surprised I was able to push out so many. Another huge surprise was the fact that now, my most viewed videos are almost all YouTube Shorts. Apparently people do love art time-lapses set to music, but only if it’s structured like something from Instagram or Tik Tok.

Painting from my real time walkthrough video. Oil paint on textured paper.

The artwork featured in this post was the first step on this YouTube initiative. Although I’ve transitioned more towards sharing seven or eight minute discussions, this was an actual real time painting. I cut out some of the empty spaces where I had to pause or help the kids with something, but otherwise this is mostly a normal speed painting, which for me is typically somewhere around two to three hours. Unless someone specifically requests one, I don’t anticipate doing more of these because they are rather difficult. It’s much smoother to just record the video without audio, then overlay the discussion after the fact.

As for the painting itself, it’s kind of an interesting one in that it’s not really of any specific person. In the interest of being candid with myself, as I’m learning to paint, I don’t have the skills to do a precise and exact likeness. I did a decent job on a co-worker painting recently…which I’ll share someday (it’s 11 paintings after this one). But, prior to this one, I had more recently tried with less than satisfactory results to paint my wife and kids, so at this stage in my learning process, I wasn’t holding myself to any real requirement to get something “right.” I was more so trying to just get practice with brush technique and color mixing. So, I can’t really do my usual test here of “does it look like the person”…the answer is no, and there isn’t really one person I can pin this too (although thank you to the amalgam of unsplash and stock images I leaned heavily on).

Another interesting aspect to this painting is that I continued to add to it periodically over the next two months. And that I made these additions without ruining the painting! That last part is actually pretty shocking to me. I wanted to embed some of the different versions…but unfortunately it seems I didn’t document that video photos very well.

And finally…since this is about a narrated video, shouldn’t I actually embed the video itself? In my opinion, I think a video like this is just too long for easy consumption. I’m basing this opinion on my own personal viewing habits on YouTube. The one caveat is videos by actual painting instructors and professionals – for example, Ben Lustenhouwer has amazing real time art tutorials that are actually useful because he has so much knowledge. Since I’m a novice, I think watching me paint in real time is far less valuable. But it’s a start, as I hadn’t yet caught on to the notion of something much faster with post-production audio.

Regardless, this video does at least walk through some of my thoughts while painting, and how I approached painting at that moment in time. I have to admit though, some of my tendencies have already changed and evolved from what’s in this video. As of the publication of this post, I’ve actually done 16 paintings following this one. Some of the most noteworthy newer developments? Based on advice from more experienced artists, I’m trying to use less Ivory Black and lean more towards mixing Burnt Umber with Ultramarine Blue. And as I’ve discussed in other posts, I’m also trying to rely less on pencil sketching/measuring to start, and lean heavily into freehand outlines using thin paint. And very recently, figure painting has peaked my interest. So, more to come on all of those topics.

And since we’re talking about YouTube, I should also mention I still have a portrait giveaway that’s running. This one is a little different than previous raffles, as it’s focused completely around portrait painting and videos. The winner gets an oil painting of whatever person they choose (sorry no pets this time) and the painting will be featured in a time-lapse video. This giveaway ends in 10 days, so if it sound interesting, go ahead and give it a go:

New Years 2023 Portrait Painting Giveaway


  • Hi Jon,
    Glad to see you are trying to mix blacks! If you are interested, here’s a blog post on the varied ways to mix cooler or warmer blacks.
    I think it’s a good idea to look at shadows on faces more closely. Or shadows on snow, or on other surfaces. Shadows are colorful, yes! especially on faces — and using black for shadows there works less well than a darker shade of the flesh tone you are using. Trying adding a blue instead of black for your shadows, or even mixing your flesh tone with some darker green. Early on, frustrated by my attempts at natural self-portraits, I did a one in colored pencil, using only red, yellow and a dark green. All the shadows were rendered in green and green mixed with red to make a brown, and all the lighter areas in yellow or yellowed reds. I was very pleased with the results and to this day it’s one of my favorite self portraits. This exercise taught me an important lesson, that any color can work as a shadow color as long as it’s darker than the main tone. And much darker than the light-colored highlights. It was fun too, to try to limit my palette colors to just three. I highly recommend trying this, and no black allowed!

    • That’s quite a useful post, thanks for sharing that Phoebe! This really has been such a learning experience, which is definitely going to be an ongoing journey. I’m so glad I stepped out of my comfort zone though and tried painting, because I can take these same lessons back to colored pencil (if I ever find the time for it haha). I really appreciate your suggestion from December about that same topic – I feel like it had a great impact. Since I’m so far behind sharing paintings, this one doesn’t really reflect it, but hopefully within a few points I’ll catch up to some that feature more color blending.

      Color mixing is such an incredible learning curve – I really feel like this might be one of the aspects that takes the longest to get the hang of. Measured in years instead of months it seems!

  • Great project and nice paint

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