10 Questions with Stay Creative's Ryan O'Rourke, master of 10 minute paintings :)

Ryan O'Rourke, artist from Stay Creative Youtube channel, 10 minute paintings and 1 hour paintings.


Hello lovely people of the internet world.  You would've come across Ryan's tutorials on the tubes I'm sure.  Well so did we, and I asked him if he'd like to participate in a little info sharing with you guys.  He was more than happy to oblige, so prepare yourselves as I delve with Ryan into his typical workday, things he wished he knew years ago and HEAPS more.  We had a lot of fun with this interview, and we hope you do too :)  Cheers, Frankie.


Q:   Do you find your 10 minute paintings or 1 hour paintings more fun?

This is going to sound like a pretty safe answer but I actually really enjoy both of them as they each have their advantages! Creating the 10 minute paintings is a fast and highly cathartic process. They give me the opportunity to quickly play with numerous color palettes and make a lot of intuitive decisions, as opposed to taking long breaks saying “hmmm, what if I tried this” and never really committing to anything. Life can be quite busy. However, due to the 10 minute time constraint I feel like I can make something just about every day, regardless of how crazy it is.

In regards to the hour long lessons, I enjoy these as they allow me to really dive into a piece and work with a lot of additional detail. These pieces have more complicated compositions and keep me learning. The lessons also allow me to expand on the basic color palettes of the 10 minute lessons and do a lot more intricate layering.

Honestly, creatively, I just feel like they both offer me something completely different. So, to unintentionally answer your question in the least divisive way possible...both are my favorite? Haha.

Ryan O'Rourke's 10 minute painting tutorials through his Youtube channel, Stay Creative.
Ryan O'Rourke's 1 hour painting tutorials are available through Patreon.

Q:  What gets you lit up about a painting subject?  Is it the light that captures you? The subject matter? Composition?  Or a combination of these - or something totally different each time?

When creating a piece, my first and largest goal is to create an atmosphere.  Something that can impact and inspire a feeling.  Something you can sink into.  The mood/atmosphere generally determines the color palette, which then defines the actual subjects.  The lighting and composition are then created to further heighten the feeling of the piece. 

If I intend for the piece to be calm, I will use a more balanced and minimal composition.  If the piece is intended to inspire energy of some kind, I will generally lean on more of a dynamic/sweeping composition.  This is my extremely wordy way of saying what excites me most about a painting subject is the atmosphere around it.

Q:  Tell us 6 things you like to do in your “spare” time :)

When I hear the word "hobby", strangely ‘exercise’ seems to pop into my head first.  I feel like it provides me with the energy to do just about everything else I need to in a day so it’s definitely a staple. 

In regards to artistic endeavours, I love cinematography and photography....which is great because I frequently find myself taking lots of reference photos!  Filmmaking is excitingly fun because for me at least, it’s about crafting moving compositions, something we generally don’t get to do with the traditional mediums. 

I love to spend time outdoors, hiking, swimming, and spelunking.  Again, this hobby is great for gathering more ideas for future pieces.  Now, most importantly, I enjoy spending my free time playing Roller Coaster Tycoon and Mario cart with my life and business partner, Maija. (Actually, she makes all of those hobbies^ worthwhile). 

Q:  What do you wish you knew 5 years ago, and how would this have changed your approach to the business of being an artist?

I wish I knew how valuable being consistent with creation actually was.  Over the last eight years I would take 6+ month breaks where I didn’t make anything new at all.  I was inspired, I had ideas, and I just wanted to wait until ‘they were perfect’ which I feel actually dramatically hindered my development as an artist.

When I force myself to create every day, do rough sketches, play with varying color palettes, etc, I find that my ideas are much more quickly realized.  I rapidly see improvement and feel much more motivated to continue creating.  This is another reason I started the 10 Minute Paintings on Youtube.  It was a manageable way of committing every week to creating something. 

I would highly implore any creative who is simply ‘waiting for inspiration’, or ‘waiting to perfect it’ to just start.  Make something.  Do it.  Even if you have the course correct you will probably finish much earlier than you would have had you waited for everything to be perfect.

Q:  What is the most amazing thing/best thing that has happened to you because of your online presence?

Remember how in the first question I cheated a little bit and gave you two answers? I’m going to do that again.  I think the one I see the effects of every day, is working for myself.  The online presence and Stay Creative Painting give me complete creative and financial freedom.  I love freedom.  I love that I can arrange my day however I’d like, and spend each minute of it achieving things that I am personally invested in.

My second answer is tied to something I’m sure you’ve also experienced as well. Occasionally I’ll receive a message from someone in a really hard place. They explain a current or past hardship and then mention their newfound affinity for art and painting.  How it’s such a cathartic and relaxing medium. I  love that through an online presence we are able to do some good.  Put things out into the world that genuinely makes a difference in people’s lives.

This is kind of a heavy/awkward one to wrap up but in short, I just really appreciate how the creative process can bring a little bit of light to people in the hardest of times.

Q:  What does a typical work day look like for you?

That changes dramatically from day to day.  If I intend on putting out a new eBook I might spent 13 hours drawing/editing.  If I intend to work on an hour long lesson I’ll spend a couple hours sketching out compositions, then an hour testing palettes, another 2 hours actually doing the lesson (with prep time)… then dubbing/editing it might take another 3+.  Those days are pretty full.  However, I also have days where I paint for an hour, hop in the car with Maija and go see the horses, or we walk the dog.  We also spend an absurd amount of time in grocery stores.  As mentioned previously, Mario Kart is also big on the weekly to-do list.  Anyways, I’ve always know that I didn’t want a consistent 9-5 and I’m happily living the farthest thing from it.

Q:  Do you have enough time to work on your own creativity being such a prolific tutor?

I love this question.  I think it’s important that we all frequently ask something similar.  Am I spending time on what actually fulfills me?  At this point I am.  I am a big believer in finding a way to spend time doing what you’re passionate about.  I think when time is spent on what you love, you have a much greater chance of success....and a happy life is a nice bonus too ;)

For a portion of 2017 I admittedly struggled with balancing my creative projects.  However, Maija has joined me in the business endeavors, and her doing so has interjected a lot of life back into it.  We have a lot of fun working together and she compliments my shortcomings in such an incredible way.  Now spending time on side projects is much more manageable and due to that, creating tutorials is yet again an exciting and joyful experience, as opposed to a stressful one. 

Your new website looks fantastic!  Do you have any other big projects in the works?

Thank you! Maija actually designed and put together most of it!  I’ve made websites in the past, but they have always been admittedly a little cluttered; so I’m really happy with the minimalistic aesthetic she created.

In regards to new projects, I’m currently working diligently to add lots of additional content to my Patreon page.  On it I offer dozens of hour long landscape lessons for just a couple of dollars each month with new ones added each and every month.  Again, they are great because the extra time allows me to talk about my color pallettes, and illustrate the blending process in real time.  With that said, while I love teaching the painting process, I’ve found that a lot of people actually also require assistance with the drawing process.

To expand, other artists regularly send me their work, looking for critiques; and I’ve found that frequently the larger issues with the paintings don’t have anything to do with the actual application or blending of the paint, but rather the initial drawing and the foundation.  So, with that in mind, I’m beginning to offer digital sketches of my 10 minutes lessons and reference photos over on Patreon.  I think that these should really aid people with the drawing process and ensuring that they have a strong, well sketched foundation to work on top of. 

Ryan's 10 minute painting digital sketches.
Ryan's 1 hour paintings digital sketches.

Q:  Do you do all the design for your YT channel, ebooks and website?  If so, do you enjoy the design process as much as the painting process?

I did all of the design work up until 2018.  It was a fun creative outlet, however, I definitely prefer to make things in three dimensional space.  In the last couple of months my partner Maija has begun taking the lead with all things graphic design.  As I mentioned, she just designed the website and she puts graphics together for the new videos.  She also does the newsletter!  I’m incredibly lucky as she’s honestly much quicker at these things then I am and she does a fantastic job!

Q:  And finally, tell us something no one knows about you. 

My social security number is.... Haha, just kidding.  I credit most of my success creatively to a children’s card game named YU-GI-OH.  When I was a kid, I loved to expand upon the cards/characters/creatures by drawing my own scenarios.  It drove me creatively and gave me the inspiration to practice drawing daily as a child.


Thanks so much Ryan for such a great insight into your life!  Stay Creative :)

You can find Ryan's popular Youtube channel here, his website here, and his Patreon page here.



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