|This is the painting I was delivering the day of the QUESTION.|
"How long did it take you to paint that?" Let me tell you something my friends. That is a loaded question. And one that is virtually impossible to answer. I am an artist. I work for myself and I work at home. That means I don't clock in. I don't arrive at a certain time, have a set period of time for lunch and coffee breaks, and then leave at five. Now those of you with jobs where you have a set schedule probably think that I have it easy. You think I am lucky. (well, yes, I am lucky.) But what you may not realize is that I don't always get paid for a full day's worth of work. Sometimes I don't get paid for a week of work, or even a month of work. Some artists work for YEARS without selling anything. Artists only get paid if we manage to paint something that someone can't live without.
I may paint for 8 hours or 10, go in to the kitchen to make food, and go back into the studio to paint while dinner is cooking. I may put pajamas on, brush my teeth and discover there's more I have to do to this one part of the painting before I go to bed and end up working for another two or three hours. Sometimes, I have been known to clean up from a day of work, go out for dinner with friends, come home, visit a painting, and end up working on it late into the night. I have even been known to photograph my work in progress to print out and study when I am not in the studio. If I am painting and things aren't going well, sometimes I go outside and stare at the ground or watch ants before I am able to resume working. I will employ anything and everything I can to help me find a resolution.
So when I figure out how long one painting took, do I include all the other paintings I painted before it? Because they are the reason that painting looks the way it looks. Do I count the time I spent staring at the painting, trying to figure out what was wrong with it? Do I count the hours I spent looking at other artist's work, going to school and studying art? Those hours are part of what went into that painting. Do I include the hours spent drawing and sketching in preparation for painting? Or maybe I am to set a stopwatch, start painting, and stop it every time I stop to squeeze out another color, wash my brush, scratch the dog behind the ear....????? I don't think so.
I have now learned to dodge the dreaded question with evasive answers like "I am lucky enough not to have to keep track of my time." Or "I work on more than one painting at a time, so it's really hard to say." And sometimes I do say "I have been painting for fifteen years, so this painting took fifteen years and a week to paint." An answer for the unanswerable question.
Here are some studies I have been working on lately:
|"Free." 8 1/4 x 5 1/2 inches. Acrylic, collage and ink on paper. ©2012 Karine Swenson|
|"Sketch #1" Acrylic and marker on paper. 12 x 9 inches. ©2012 Karine Swenson|
I will announce the winner for my drawing tomorrow, stay tuned!