August 16, 2009

How Long Does it Takes

As an artist, I am often asked how long it takes to paint a piece. I don’t think people realize how hard this is to answer. This question implies that the more time put in equals greater value, something I don’t believe. The hours actually applying paint is only a small part of what it takes to complete a painting. Some artists will answer “a lifetime” when asked.

"Evening Light", 18" x 24", oil on linen, Lydia Johnston

Creativity is a process that needs space and time. All of our life experiences do filter into the process. A lot of the process is internal, and that doesn’t take place in the studio while painting. I often find the night a very productive time for processing ideas, as well as when I am out being physically active. So a lot of time goes into a painting that isn’t time actually applying paint.

And then there is the question of quality. You may spend many more hours on a particular piece, but that additional time doesn’t guarantee a better end product. Sometimes a masterpiece comes together very quickly; other pieces need to be reworked and reworked and reworked. That extra time put in should in no way increase the value of a piece of fine art. The value of a piece of fine art should be based on the impact it has on you, the viewer, not by the hours spent brushing on the canvas.

August 04, 2009

The Silver Lining

"Sky Sonata IV", 10" x 10", oil on linen, Lydia Johnston

What a productive time I have had for the past three weeks. Once I was able to get back to my studio, I have been having the most fantastic time, that's the silver lining to the accident and not being able to paint for four weeks. Obviously all kinds of ideas were percolating in me during that time of healing. Everything coalesced, and I feel like I have been turning out my best paintings ever.

I have been working at a manic rate, in part as a response after my forced leave and partly because Tom, my partner has been out of town. There have been no distractions, just me and my painting. Now it’s time for me to slow down and catch my breath. I seem to be back to my old pace. Slowly working through a new painting, Applying the first layer, processing it, continuing a few days later once the first layer is dry. I miss the euphoria of the first few days back in my studio, but I knew I couldn’t sustain that pace. Coming up with new ideas and processing them takes time.