Thursday, July 30, 2009

How long did it take you to do that?

How long did it take you to do that? Artists are nodding, laughing and sighing at that familiar question. An inquiry, and if I may speak for many of us artists, we might not be too fond of being asked. Giving a locked accurate account can be unnerving for various reasons as simple as we don't know, or questions passing through our minds such as are you trying to validate my talent or the price of my work by hours? As artists become more skilled the work goes faster. New techniques or products might change the pace. Another passing thought when asked time is, Am I getting lucky and getting a commission and its needed right away? Early on I kept a tally next to portraits as I worked on them to help me come up with pricing. Not including client time or photo shoots, just actual easel time. Some took an amazing 2 1/2 hours while others might go 24 hours even 72 hours. My prices do not reflect an hourly wage per piece. The labor in a work of art is what it is, while some pieces flow, others give natural birth. The mulling, the distance, the think time is inestimable. The above piece was started as it says on the back at Cafe Tu Tu Tangos 9/11/04. Unsettled with the piece of sky in 2005 I added an apple on a window sill. Now in July 2009 came the chickadee and branches. I feel a sense of whimsy coming it's way so when you see it again it might have undergone yet another development.

By the way the answer is, a lifetime, that's how long it takes to do this...and I love it!
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8 comments:

liza myers said...

As usual, you are so right on. Do they ask a surgeon how long it took to do a procedure? I usually just throw out a ridiculous number of hours. But the first 10 times someone asks you it's very disconcerting.
Nice chickadee by the way!

Nancy Moskovitz said...

Good one. I'm never comfortable with that question. No surprise there. Love how you covered the permutations

Caio Fernandes said...

beaultufull painting Robin . i would like to be there now .

moony soprano said...

I can't agree with you more. Being asked technical questions are so irritating though we're really left with no choice but to give them an estimated answer. What I hate more is being asked about the process or the exact percentage of colors used or strokes. All I could tell them was that I just know it is going to work out but as to how I thought of it I really don't know. By the way, I looked at your works and I love the colors and rough wet on wet style you used to highlight the subjects you used for your work. They're beautiful.

Poetic Artist said...

Wonderful piece..Time seems to pass and we can not think about how much time.
I always love your work.
Take care,
Katelen

Elizabeth St. Hilaire Nelson said...

I was teaching teenagers collage today and talked about that exact question! Talked abut how I do not keep track of the time that adds up over multiple sittings because when I am working on my art I am in a zone which time seems to stand still. Very hard to estimate. And let's face it, we are not punching a clock ever time we paint!

LisaBongZee ~ Island Dream Life said...

I know just what you mean.

Love your chickadee in this piece, the sky is awesome too.

beccy said...

What I hate is people asking you HOW you did something (I'm a ceramicist). I always answer along the lines of "lots of experimenting" with a smile, because I don't want to offend them but they might just be looking to copy. Why should my hours of work be given away for free?