Book & DVD Available Now!

Own a copy of Gary Olsen's The Neighborhood. It comes with a DVD containing over 2 hours of episodes from his series, "Gary Olsen's Studio."

The Process

had this idea rattling around in my head that perhaps shooting video of myself painting would be a great way to connect with patrons. I had the expertise to do it, and God knows I had the gear. I've been a video producer for most of my career in addition to my other various creative pursuits. I actually started out with John Deere as a graphic designer working with video crews to produce instructional as well as some marketing films and video. I learned from the best in the business.

When I was preparing 20 art pieces for a solo show for the University of Dubuque in 2014, I was working on the very first composition when I decided to set up a camera and begin filming. I knew the piece would take about 4 days. I didn't plan on speeding up the video in playback until my wife, Linda, saw the completed video, and I was speeding up the playback while editing, and she commented, "That's what you should do! Play back the entire video at high speed. It's so much more entertaining, and besides, and with all due respect, I don't think people will want to sit through a painting being done in real time."

I was concerned that the video would lose some of its instructional value, but I was wrong. The hyperlapse playback actually enhances the information transfer process. It was a breakthrough discovery. What can take 4 days to paint takes 4 minutes to watch in a hyperlapse video.

I use three different cameras to capture video, all high definition video cameras including my Samsung Note smartphone. I began using tripods as camera supports but they often got in my way in front of the easel. So I purchased a camera boom or "jib" as they are called. A jib can lift the camera high overhead or suspend it just over my shoulder without the legs of a tripod creating a tripping hazard. It is truly the best camera accessory ever.

So my workspace is a combination painting and video studio. I have more than 800 square feet of space to play with, so I couldn't be better equipped.

Finally, all of my cameras record to hard drive or flash drive media. There is no tape or elaborate file transfer. The moment I complete a painting on the easel and the paint continues to dry, I'm editing my video for YouTube and my web site. Within a couple of hours, I have my video posted and I'm already getting hits through my social network and YouTube channel subscribers. It's all quite miraculous for an artist such as myself to be this connected with friends and fans. It's a wonderful time to be an artist.

TV Episodes Table of Contents

Episode 18

Gary Olsen features the making of a painting commissioned by the Dubuque Rotary Club celebrating its 100th Anniversary and the 15th Anniversary of its commitment to America's River Project. The mammoth painting measures nearly six feet in width and shows the newly rennovated Dubuque riverfront that went from largely industrial to a magnificent recreational and cultural venue that provides access to the river by the public and  the most beautiful view of our city as you cross the Highway 20 bridge.

Episode 17

I revisit the high promontory at Balltown, Iowa, overlooking the Mississippi River Valley below, and in the distance toward the east, is a thunderstorm that has just passed through. My goal here was to create tension through the use of compositional elements like the thunderheads and torrent of rain falling on the horizon. How to capture a season, weather, and a landscape bathed in light is what this demonstration is all about.

Episode 16

I'm exploring further the pastoral landscape in this piece, the View Along the Great River Road - Balltown. In this demonstration I cover in more detail the process of the underpainting in preparing the canvas.

Episode 15

I revisited the scene I painted in 2014 not that I had regrets about the first "View from Balltown Road." I just wanted to try some fall colors. I truly love this view which is among the most spectactular scenes along The Great River Road. We comment on it every Sunday we drive to Breitbach's Country Dining in Balltown.

Episode 14

I thought it would be fun to do "Douglas the Magician" in the painting style of my other portraits. But his mom had a different idea. "I love your pastel work. Would you do it in pastel?" I agreed to do the pastel portrait, and here is the resulting video of the project with some insights on how I work with pastel..

Episode 13

The View from the Road to Balltown along the Great River Road between Dubuque and Balltown, Iowa, was My father-inlaw's favorite. He and my mother-in law, Leona, had memories and stories about every farm along the route. We heard them countless times and never tired of them.

Episode 12

In The Basketweaver, my subject was sitting in front of her vehicle at a Galena, Illinois Farmer's Market. I couldn't resist. Good thing I had my smartphone along. I snapped shots of her and her wonderful work. I love doing figurals.

Episode 11

The fact that the Dubuque Star Brewery has been lovingly restored and now houses a winery and museum that captures the history of the structure is nothing short of wonderful. Long ago it was put on the National Registry of Historic Places, but it took the City of Dubuque to come to the building's rescue.

Episode 10

I have always wanted to paint Dubuque's City Hall Clock ever since it was restored to the top of City Hall some years ago. My composition includes a neighboring building that was constructed about the same time as City Hall, and has all of the fine architectural adornments of that historic period.

Episode 9

Multi-story houses, mansions, really, are perched on the bluff top. They were the homes of wealthy industrialists, bankers and entrepreneurs. They are" high Victorian" style houses, the style taking its name from the era in which it was popular during the reign of England's much loved Queen Victoria.

Episode 8

In this video I demonstrate how I can obtain detail in a painting without really drawing detail. I try to avoid heavily detailed drawings. Rather than color inside the lines of a drawing, I prefer "free-style" painting where I obtain my ""details" with my brush. The point of this lesson is to explain just how impressionism works.

Episode 7

Pearl really turned out well, and I especially like the tulips she's holding. I'm not exactly known for my florals, but I was inspired and I feel they really turned out well, especially the way the colors contrast with the dark blue knitted coat that Pearl is wearing.

Episode 6

This painting is "The Onion Seller." I'm not certain who he his, but I had a photograph of him which I can no longer find in my archives. I did have the show program, thankfully, that afforded me the opportunity to revisit this favorite subject of mine.

Episode 5

The spectacular Town Clock, located in the heart of downtown Dubuque, is a splendid symbol of the historical architectural heritage of this town I've grown to love. I've actually painted the town clock many times through the years or it has been a significant compositional element of various cityscapes.

Episode 4

The majestic Dubuque County Courthouse is the subject of Episode 4 of Gary Olsen's Studio, a special opportunity for you to see my creative process as I prepare my collection of paintings for my one-person show at the Bisignano Gallery at the University of Dubuque's Heritage Center.

Episode 3

The iconic cupolas of the historic Ryan Houses as seen from the bluff behind these beautiful 19th Century homes are the subject of this painting. The homes were built by William A. Ryan. According to the Encyclopedia Dubuque, Ryan moved to Dubuque in 1868 to establish a meat packing company and met with immense success.

Episode 2

This view takes in the historic twin spires of the Sacred Heart Church and surrounding houses. The gothic style peaked roofs create an almost rythmic pattern as do the windows. I also love the different hues of the shingles. It is characteristic of a US town that uses asphalt shingles

Episode 1

This is the first episode of the series.The Hill Street Neighborhood was the first painting of the collection and set the color palette, the tone and the theme of the entire collection. The video was shot by Brandon Noel, who is my neighbor. He's still in high school, cuts my lawn and shovels my driveway, but he is also one of the best media producers I've had the opportunity to work with. We also collaborated on a Shutterfly book on the production of this painting as well.

© Gary Olsen 2016 all rights reserved. All graphics and copy in this Web site are the intellectual property of Gary Olsen and/or his clients' property, used with permission, and cannot be used for any purpose without permission. Address correspondence to