Every week, people visit my workshop and the exhibition that I have at my house. They come to look at the paintings, but naturally, they are also curious to learn more about the process by which I paint. Very interesting conversations, which have actually helped me to structure my work in a better way. Occasionally though, I get a question, which used to confuse the hell out of me.
“How long did it take you to create this painting?”
Yes, this question used to confuse me. Depending on the person who asks the question, I may, on the one hand, notice some criticism behind it, as in: “I cannot imagine it took you longer than five minutes to create this s**t. On the other hand, for most visitors, this usually simply shows interest in my work. Whatever the case, in the past I found the question very hard to answer.
First of all, we all know that good art takes a long time to create, whereas poor art can be created within minutes. Although… come to think of it… is that actually true? Karel Appel, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Franz Kline, and even the public’s current favorite Banksy… how much time did or do these artists invest in a single piece? I know some of them created beautiful work within minutes. On the other hand, there are very poor artists who, at the kitchen table, spend months creating terrible paintings. By definition, a sculpture may take a long time to create, think about Michelangelo, Rodin, or Scarpello. … but how about Marcel Duchamp’s readymades?
The answer lies in the observation that creating art takes more than simply working on the piece in front of the artist. I arrived at the answer to the question when I read an article about hunting. For a hunter, to kill a wild boar takes less than a second: pull the trigger, and that’s it. However, we all know that a hunter has to purchase a weapon and ammunition, needs to take care of the equipment, will need practice in shooting, will have to wait for the prey in the early morning hours, and will need to transport the dead animal to the car and the butcher.. the author of the article calculated that the killing of one single boar takes the hunter on average18 hours.
With art, it is not much different. For instance, I study hundreds of pictures and photos each month. I look at motives, colors, shadows, techniques… even at movies or movie stills. I make dozens of sketches (in the end, most have nothing to do with the final work, and are thrown away). The artists that created action paintings may have made dozens of paintings, the majority ending up in the bin, and the one they liked was selected as the final piece. The failures are never shown, but they contributed to the masterpiece and were part of the creation process.
On top of that comes experience. If you create paintings or sculptures over many years, you become more skillful. Michelangelo didn’t start out as a pro in sculpturing, he practiced and practiced. At the height of his career, he probably needed considerably less time for a sculpture than as a student, but he (and his audience) was probably more pleased with the end result than with his earlier works.
So, if people ask me: “How long did it take you to create this painting?” I have both a short and long answer. The long answer is the explanation that you have just read. The short answer is something like “six weeks.” And that’s the truth. honestly, I have never created a painting within minutes.
Also check this video.
Originally posted 2021-10-31 22:21:00.