Terry Miura • Studio Notes

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Last Thursday I did a little demo in front of a room full of people. Basically, I painted a landscape from memory, from thumbnail to finish in two hours - which is about how long I usually take if I were sketching en plein air.  The actual painting time was probably a lot shorter because I was talking the whole time, explaining what I was doing and why.

 I have enough experience now painting in front of people that I don't get nervous but I think I still went too fast. I paint too fast and talk too fast. But then if I slow down, I can't get the painting to a stage where it looks decent. (my paintings look pretty much a mess until the last 10%). 

I think doing live demos and talking at the same time, is a very difficult thing. Some artists do it really well, while others hardly talk during their demos. An experienced painter can get a lot out of another's demo without any verbal explanation, but for everyone else, I feel like I need to give a running commentary, if only to make me feel like I'm doing my job. I'm not a multi-tasker so (walking and chewing gum at the same time is the extent of my multi-tasking). painting and talking is quite a challenge for me.  I've gotten better over the years, but still I can feel my gears rapidly switching from painting to explaining and back again, obviously using different parts of my brain, and not running concurrently. It's a weird feeling. 

To be sure, I have learned to enjoy it. I've always had a tremendous fear of speaking in public, but if it's a painting demo, I don't seem to have a problem. Probably because the assumed relationship is that the people are there because they want to hear and see what I have to offer, and that they see some value in the information.  At least, I have to convince myself that is the case, or I'll get way too nervous to function properly. Not fun.

Here's the painting I did in front of 35 people. This was, as I said, painted from memory. I had set up a small camera and projected the palette onto the wall so everyone can see what I was doing on the palette as well as on the canvas. I didn't have high-end equipment so the colors on the projection were off,  but at least they could see which colors went into each mixture. I always like seeing stuff like that when watching other people paint, so I thought it might be fun to do it here, too. 

The demo panel is 11 x 14, oil on linen (claessens #66) mounted on 1/4 inch MDF board. 


  1. I agree, you are far from intimidating. Maybe just your paintings skills are intimidating.
    Anyway, I am just like you as far as being nervous speaking in front of people, but you put a canvas in front of me, and it's no problem.
    Thanks for the hi-five. See you soon....

  2. Did you tape it? I would love to see it on video.

  3. Randy, my fear of public speaking has always been really severe. way more than just nervous, so it's curious that I can teach at all. A brush in my hand is like Dumbo's magic feather~

    Frank, thanks! I'ma come visit your gallery soon~

    Brad, no, I didn't tape it. sorry. It may yet happen at some point, but I got no video-charisma :-p Hate to see myself on video!

  4. Wow! Where did you study? I saw that you were an illustrator. Did you go to Art Center? I'm half inspired, half discouraged... too achieve this would be my life wish. That and organizing my whole house. Time is the ever elusive currency, isn't it.

  5. Thanks Alexandra~ Indeed, I did go to Art Center back in the late eighties. But traditional landscape painting was not taught there (not then, anyway) so this stuff is all self taught, so to speak. Granted I got the foundation on which to build at ACCD. I 'd do it all over again, too :-)