Saturday, November 19, 2011

On "How Long Did it Take to Paint That?"

Artist's are frequently asked "how long did it take you to paint that painting"? It's a question I always hated as I felt it shortchanged my efforts and experience. I've often been tempted to glibly respond, as I once heard another artist remark, "50 years and an hour". While this is not exactly accurate, it does at least suggest the years of training and experience that hones the diverse skills required to create a painting of merit.

 It seems to me though that when a prospective collector asks this question what they really want to know is if  the price I'm asking is a fair price?  A much more accurate and better answer would be "three months plus my X years of experience". 

So, you ask,  how did I come up the the idea of three months? 

Actually, my husband Paul came up with the idea and I thought it was a great way to deal with this situation.  He suggested that I average out the amount of time it takes me to show a painting from the time of inception through developing the idea, creating the painting, framing and marketing. As I considered this criteria, I realized that there have been a number of paintings that have taken several years and of course those that are created en plein air in an hour or two and may never be made into a studio work.  It took a bit of doing but, as best I could, I averaged these factors out and realized that my paintings over the past five years, all things considered, generally average about 3 to 3.5 months.  So now, my answer to the age old question of "how long did it take you to do it" is, "three months plus my 50 years of experience".

This  response is so much more realistic than simply saying X hours of painting time and it satisfies most inquiries. The price of the painting is immediately seen as a good deal instead of being pricey and is fair to me as an artist for the amount of hours I've worked on it in my thinking, planning, and marketing, as well as in the doing. 

I hope this helps you as much as it has helped me deal with an awkward situation. If you have another way of answering this question I'd sure love to hear it.  Remember you can always contact me below through this blog or via my website at

My studio on wheels.

1 comment:

Beth Niquette said...

I really appreciate this blog entry. I have only recently had to answer this question and found myself at loss as to what to say.

Thank you for your insights. I am so grateful to you for sharing.

Have a lovely spring.