Every artist I know gets asked this question and there is no easy answer! Some paintings come together quickly and boy is that a magical, happy day when they just seem to fall onto the canvas. Others...not so much! A few paintings have multiple layers of unfinished works, or things that didn't work at all and so ended up being covered over for a fresh start. In my studio, most paintings fall in the middle of this zone.
I think people have a few different motivations when they ask this question. We've all been at an event or show where someone is really just wanting to give you a bad time. They don't like your art, or your price point (or you!). The "how long" question is often accompanied by the statement "I could do that!". Ugh. If the conversation goes in this direction, I don't worry too much about honest engagement.
Our culture is also keen on the time=money equation. If you finished it in x days, then is it worth all that money? Also not a conversation I find helpful to get into with people. Time spent at the easel on one particular painting is only one element of so many that go into creating art.
Most people are usually just curious about your process. They might really love a specific painting or want to know more about the work that you do. Time can be a friendly way to approach an artist with a simple question. In these situations, I want to give an authentic answer. Okay...do I add on the days where it sat in 'time-out' because I was still pondering where to go next? Or the first two 'not quite' paintings that are underneath a particular finished work? How about the hours of study that got me here, but are just practice pieces in a notebook? The ones I did in a series, 5 or 6 paintings at a time? It gets complicated!
In addition to my art practice, I have to count in my life experience. Most artists I know paint with heart and soul in addition to brushes and paint. Those things all go into what shows up on the canvas, nothing left out!
My current answer is this: 55 years of life + 7 years of painting experience. Now, I am genuinely curious! If you are an artist...how do you answer this question? If you are an art buyer and you ask this question, what is it that you really want to know? Feel free to comment below or on one of my social media channels. You can find me here on Instagram or here on Facebook.
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