Friday, 12 November 2021

How we created our Online Workshops

Claire and I have worked together running our Art Classes at Treetops since 2005, that's 16 years!

We've welcomed so many artists, from the beginners, the terrified, the seasoned and proficient.

We spend a day being taught by Claire, step by step, to create a wonderful masterpiece to take home.

Whether it's in watercolour, acrylics, pen and wash, pastels or oils.

But roll on 2020-2021 and with life changing somewhat due to the Coronavirus, with both my boys back at home, and the world of online workshops opening up, I thought now was the time to get filming.  The pair of them are skilled in sound engineering, filming, photography and editing, it would be silly not to put them to work!

Claire thought it was as great idea and something she'd been thinking of for a while, so we spent several days planning workshops, ideas, what Claire was going to wear and keeping her calm when she realised she would be in HD!

Claire has known my boys since they were 9 and 5, so it was a very relaxed atmosphere, and Alex was very good at putting Claire at ease, as he set up various lights, microphones and camera tripods.

I was on hand to check we had everything in shot that we needed.

Claire teaches in a step by step style which worked really well for filming and creating natural breaks.  I made copious amounts of notes, mainly of when an aeroplane went overhead, the doorbell rang, Claire coughed - all the useful things for Sam to know about when it came to the sound edit later on in the process.

After filming 7 Workshops, it was over to Alex and myself to edit, this can take half a day per workshop and involves editing the colour, adding any text, inserting the stage breaks, adding photographs and other video to the film, making sure it's all perfectly in synch.  It's as visually perfect as it can be.  And did I mention Claire is in HD ...... (she'll never forgive me).

It then gets sent over to Sam in his sound suite, he studied Sound Engineering at Uni, and can hear things I don't even notice, his knowledge is incredible.

He can remove outside noise and unwanted jumps in sound levels.  And had to deal with me saying "at 25 minutes in there is a dog barking, can you remove that but still have Claire talking" ...

Whilst all the editing was happening with the boys, I was working on a new website with the lovely Erin from Lime White Marketing, where we could have an online shop for buying the Workshops and also Art Materials.

It was quite the learning curve due to the workshops being such large files, if you think of all the layers of pictures, sound, voice, effects and images etc

We also had to look at copyright and piracy and in the end we chose Vimeo to host the platform for our Workshops.

You receive a password when you buy one, for your solo use and it's then yours to keep forever once you've downloaded it.

Each workshop needed its own file, it required a material list of everything Claire used so that you can create the painting at home.  Claire painted lovely little paint charts to go with each workshop.  Gerald, her husband, created the image stages for each workshop, so you receive downloadable images of the painting in it's sketch stage, first wash stage etc.

Our whole house had Claire's voice ringing out from various rooms for days!

I was downstairs watching each workshop to double check everything was perfect before uploading it to the website.  With each Workshop being 60 minutes - 105 minutes, that took quite some time.

We are really pleased that our first 7 Workshops have something for everyone, we have Beginners, Advanced, a seascape, a landscape, a floral painting, a cheeky squirrel for pen & wash and a seasonal painting which is currently Autumn Berries.

Once everything was uploaded, it was time to think of the Online Shop.

We know it's hard to get hold of good paper, and Claire has always taught that you need the best quality thick paper for your Watercolour painting, and that for us is Saunders Waterford from St Cuthberts Mill in Somerset.

  We have created a pack with 4 sizes plus some very useful templates that we use in the workshops, so that  you can create your painting size the same as Claire and then use one of our Mounts if you would like to.

Likewise our Mounts, that Gerald makes, come in packs of 4, and are beautiful quality, double mounted and 100% acid free, you just need to choose your size.

We have Claire's gorgeous watercolour paints, available in 14ml tubes in an array of lovely colours, also her Sketchpad, which has the thickest sketchbpad paper on the market, perfect for taking out and about, you can use both sides of the paper with your paints.

And finally our Materials Box we have put together for you:

We worked hard at putting something together at the best price we could, that has everything you need in it to get you started and to be able to use it to work alongside the Workshops*

(* If a Workshop requires an additional colour paint, or texture paste, we let you know on the materials list when you buy your workshop).

The box costs £75 and saves you 20% on the RRP.

Inside you will find

4 sheets of Saunders Waterford paper
6 SAA 14ml tubes of paint
A set of paintbrushes

this would normally cost you £70 at this point, but we have added:

A muffin palette
A 16 well palette
Masking Fluid
Masking Pen
A Colour Wheel
Sample papers from the Mill
An HB pencil, ruler and rubber
A pipette

We were over the moon to finally launch the website and it's great to see you buying the Workshops, and even better when you send in a photo of your artwork, we love it!

To date our most popular Workshop is the Autumn Berries which is suitable for all levels of artist.

Thank you for all your support and please think of the Art Materials, Workshops and Gift Vouchers for Christmas gifts!