I'm doing painting demos at the White Hart hotel throughout Salisbury art trail. (2-17th June). And the most asked question, by a country mile is " How long did that take?"
And I'm working out the best way of answering that question!
"How long did that take you?"
I'll admit, that most artists don't really like that question.
But since running workshops, and building rapport with my customers, I really understand where they're coming from now and when you're trying to find out about the art, actually it's a great question!
I guess artists don't like the question (especially when in a selling situation) because it feels like someone is testing how much we're paying ourselves per hour, or maybe they're seeing whether or not we can magic the art in a matter of minutes.
Answers I've heard over the years include:
It took me 47 years to learn how to do this!
Can I include the amount of time I spent chewing my brush trying to work out how to do it?
You don't wake up one morning an just paint like this.
Creating something original is time consuming; copying is quick.
But is that answering the question?
I've realised, that's sometimes that's not really the question that's being asked.
I think "How did you do that?" is woven in there,
"How much work do you have to do before you start painting?" that's in there too.
"What inspired you to create this?"
Well now you're talking; I'd love to tell you how and why I created something.
Firstly you have to get your inspiration. That definitely includes getting out of the studio and finding inspiration. For me it might be a New Forest stag, or a cow in the field.
For my animals further afield, I have soursed some photos from my own collection, or from friends. But when I need to I can use work from professional photographers -You have to pay, but that's important as a professional artist. Copyright is precious and I'm proud to giving photographers their due.
Then there's plenty of sketchbook experimentation, composition and colours ways are worked out before heading to the canvas.
The first layer of paint, is very diluted French ultramarine blue or burnt sienna, and I carefully mark out the darkest areas. The next stage, involves adding in raw umber or purple to the still wet blue. There is no white at this stage, the areas of paint that appear to be lighter, are diluted.
Oil painters start thin.
This is where my drips come from...but I'll explain that in my next blog.
I have to leave the painting to dry. This is another reason why I find it so hard to answer the question. I work on so many pieces at a time it's hard to work out how long each one takes.
Once the first layer is dry and the work progresses, more dark tones are added. The subject starts take on form and feel three dimensional. I have to resist adding any lighter colours or significant detail.
After the initial two layers are dry I continue on the painting which might progress rapidly or may turn into a battle that takes months!
I enjoyed the battle with the lion and lioness ("Watching and Waiting") above and I have just gone to the travel agent for some travel brochures for Africa, so I certainly won't be wasting time on artists block!
But I still haven't found an easy way to answer the question "How long did that take?"
If you have ever asked the question, what answers were you hoping for? I'd love to know!
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