I am currently on a crazy painting schedule in which I am trying to finish 4 paintings a week for a solo show in June at Ampersand Vintage Gallery in Portland, OR. I have been super motivated and have managed to finish 8 paintings in 10 days and was recently told, jokingly, that my work should be cheaper since it doesn't take me much time to paint. While, the comment didn't offend me, it did get me thinking about what it has taken to get me to the point where I am now, a confident artist who has a clear direction in my work which enables me to execute my work "quickly", and whether or not the value of a painting should be based on the amount of hours it takes to complete one.
Now I realize that "quickly" is completely subjective and for some, that may mean completing a piece in a week while others may complete their painting in a few hours. In the past 10 days I have worked 49 hours in the studio (and this is after working my day job) and "completed" (these paintings still need to be waxed but the images are completed) 8 paintings. This averages out to a little more than 6 hours per painting. While in comparison to some artists that take weeks, sometimes months to complete a single painting, this is, on average, a regular time frame for me and actually not considered "quickly" by my standards. Does this make my paintings worth less because it didn't take weeks to create? The quality of my work is still good and the message still comes across clearly. So why is there a need to put an hourly wage on what artists do?
When I think about all of the years where I worked at my art trying to figure out who I am, what I wanted to say, and then honing my skills, I wouldn't say that it was anywhere near quick. We are talking about almost 30 years of hard work and soul-searching, which as many of us know, is not easy. Many times I would find myself in my studio staring at blank canvases, not sure of where I should start or where I was going, doubting whether or not I had what it takes to be a successful artist. It has taken me a long time to figure out that yes, I could do this. Yes, I do have the skills to do this well. Yes, I have something worth saying. Yes, people are interested in my work. So when someone comments about the quickness in my completing a painting or calls me a prolific painter, I can now say to them that it has taken me a lifetime to be able to complete this work and the hours put into this goes way beyond what the average person puts into their 9-5 job.
Images: Three more paintings waiting to be waxed and have wiring put on them in order to be completed. The first one is 24" x 24" and the last two are 12" x 12".