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How Long should it take to finish a painting?

How Long should it take to finish a painting?

This is such a personal thing and can be summed up in “How long is a piece of string” its pretty much impossible to put a time on such things. Like the Mainland ad, all good things take time after all! You need to consider too that if its pricing your work based on hours spent painting then you should factor in such things as how much time it took you to learn the skill not just the time put into each individual piece. Some of my artwork may only take me a few hours while others can take many months to complete for instance.

The 19th-century French artist Ernest Meissonier took 13 years to finish his painting ‘Napoleon's victory at Friedland’ which is only 136 x 242.5 cm in size. A video I watched on Max Gimblett, one of New Zealand’s current well known artists shows him producing works in a few seconds while some famous artists have taken months and even years to finish a painting like Dear old Ernest did.

If you play around too much with a painting, you run the risk of overworking it; whilst if you state that a painting is finished too soon, you will run the risk of not developing the idea to its full potential. If  you’re in doubt about whether you should stop or continue with a particular painting, you can try creating another version of the painting, or creating a series on the subject or what I tend to do is hang it on the wall in my lounge or dining area and take time out over meals etc to think about it. Often I will see it differently after a bit of time to consider it and what to do with it if it needs anything at all! And sometimes friends or family see things you don’t and can help show you a different angle or concept you may have missed.

At the end of the day it’s more about being happy with the end result than putting a time limit on your work. Try not to make it a consideration and enjoy the creating.

Posted: Monday 1 March 2010

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