For some artists, creating nine pieces of original art in two months is a breeze. They work on multiple paintings at once, creating layers on one piece and then switching to another while the first painting dries. Their hands move fast and intuitively, and after a relatively short amount of time (maybe 3-10 painting sessions? I don't know, I'm making that part up) they have a completed and often gorgeous body of work.
Honestly, while I absolutely love my own painting process, I'm sometimes jealous of those painters. They can create more material in less time, and there is less riding on each piece of art both because there are more total pieces and because they work in layers, so they can cover up the parts that don't work for them.
While I have actually been told that I paint relatively quickly for an oil painter I sometimes feel like I'm plodding along at the pace of a banana slug. Depending on the level of detail of the particular painting I'm working on, I use brushes ranging from tiny to, um, small-medium.
I actually feel really blessed to have work commissioned on a time limit, like the pieces for my PDX-CSA collectors, because I am forced to make relatively quick decisions in order to balance QUALITY of work with TIME EFFICIENCY. Because frankly, I'm getting paid 75% of my asking price per piece (so, each piece was $140, which means I get $105 per piece, which comes out to anywhere between $8 and $20 per hour on these pieces, depending on how much time I spend on any individual piece. The percentage in this case is actually very generous when working through a third party like PDXCSA....most galleries take 40%-50%) and my goal is to work as quickly as possible with as much artistic integrity as possible so that I can make art that I love AND a living wage at the same time. Yum, cake.
Here are a few of the choices I have made so far during this project:
1. THE KALE CHOICE
For my sixth piece I chose, despite a nagging voice at the back of my mind telling me "Beautiful picture but toooooo many details!!! Turn away!", to paint a lovely and intricate piece of red kale on the signature wood grain background that I have been using. About halfway through painting just the leaf of the kale and realizing that I was about 5 hours in, heading towards, oh, a 12-15 hour painting (so like....$5 an hour?) I made the bold (for me) decision to skip the wood grain in the background of the painting to save time.
This is scary for me, as I spent much of my young artist-hood convinced that I wasn't truly an artist because I couldn't create art straight from my head. I solved that particular roadblock by realizing that if I took and edited my own photographs and painted from THEM, it still felt like real true art. But to change a painting deliberately from the photograph is still a bit terrifying to me. Luckily, I jumped into this pool of fear with my snorkeling mask and a super-hot bathing suit and came out the other side not only unscathed, but with what I think is actually a BETTER and less busy painting than I would have gotten had I included the wood grain.
Here is the photo and the painting side by side (which I don't normally show you, because it is NOT my tendency to really care at all if the proportions of the painting are anything like the photo and I get a little embarrassed sometimes when a viewer sees them side by side, but....f*ck it, I've survived the pool of fear):