Tuesday, 5 March 2013

The original 30-Minute Painter

30 Minute Landscapes published by Walter Foster

You have no doubt seen the 30 minute painting books published by the likes of Walter Foster, Harper Collins and Search Press with titles such as 30 minute Landscapes, 30 minute oils, 30 minute watercolours and many more. Did you know that this 30minute trend all began in my studio in the Yorkshire hills quite by accident? Well here is the story of how it all started.

I was writing for Artists and Illustrators at the time and in March 2004 the artist and then editor James Hobbs approached me about writing a six part series for the magazine based on watercolour painting. To keep it fresh and lively the idea was to title the series 'ten-minute masterpiece' and I was to write and illustrate the articles with short step by step paintings that could be achieved by readers in the space of ten minutes. The series started off well but it soon became apparent that ten minutes wasn't really long enough to produce anything of any worth and I appealed to James for more time to be dedicated to each painting. I was granted twenty minutes.

So I wrote the pieces to fit into a time slot of twenty minutes but once again I ran out of painting time for achievable paintings and I eventually managed to gain permission to work within thirty minutes. I genuinely timed each painting, photographed the steps and submitted them, so the titles varied from ten minute masterpiece to twenty minute masterpiece and so on. As the monthly series progressed James moved on from his editorial position and after my sixth contribution I decided to send in another submission to the acting editor Tracey Murkett to see what would happen. It was gratefully received and published so I continued to send them and they continued to be published. It seemed that nobody was aware that it was only supposed to be for six issues. In April 2005 the owners of the magazine raised a question to the new editor John Swinfield. Why did they have a series titled 'ten minute masterpiece' when the author was creating the paintings in thirty minutes? John being John was happy for the series to continue and managed to convince them that it was a touch of humour. He saved the series from being axed but in May 2005 it was renamed ready steady paint. This was an obvious take on the UK TV cookery competition where a chef has limited ingredients and cooks a meal within a time limit. Ready steady paint continued in exactly the same format. A handful of colours, a simple scene and just 30 minutes in which to produce something. I was even invited to London to perform 'Ready steady paint' on stage but I turned it down. I was happy to write the articles but to perform like a circus monkey was asking a bit much. Somebody else was drafted in to do the stage tricks and as a consequence I expected the magazine series to finish right there and then, but it didn't and I carried on writing, up to and including the July 2007, 250th special edition copy, eventually  completing thirty six published articles.

Just before the series ended I received an email from a commissioning editor at Walter Foster Inc in America expressing their desire to turn the articles into a book, which they were to call 30 Minute Landscapes. We put the book together quite quickly, after all the material was already there, but just before the publication date of this title I was approached by HarperCollins to write guess what? Yep, 30 Minute Landscapes. Unknown to them I was just about to release this title with Walter Foster which came to them as quite a shock having spent time and money researching their new unique product idea. So we reached an agreement where we called the Collins book 30-minute landscapes in watercolour and I wrote that too. From here on the thirty minute painting trend began to take off.

Since then many different 30-minute books have been, and continue to be published by different artists and to think that it began with that first magazine article back in April 2004.

To find out more or to purchase a signed copy of my original 30-minute book by Walter Foster click here.