Are you one of those who were asked the following question: “How long did it take you to make this painting?” Or maybe it’s a question you have in mind when you look at my artworks.
This question is often asked to artists. It’s a classic. Falsely, people who know little about the reality of the painter’s life believe it is possible to determine the “hourly rate” of the artist by dividing the selling price of a painting by the time it took to paint it. In fact, it is much more complex than that.
About time, there is a lot more to consider apart the one actually devoted to paint. We must also keep in mind:
- The time allowed to training (courses taken and self-learning).
- The time required to reach a certain level of mastery with a medium or a technique (sketches, painting studies, ruined paintings or artwork of less interest).
- The time devoted to develop new ideas or a concept.
- The time dedicated to experiment around these new ideas.
- The time spent painting as such.
- On the other hand, painting is often a reflection of the life experiences of an artist. How to take it into account?
- A last example that shows to what extent it is wrong to evaluate the cost of a painting by the time taken to make it may be seen in the Zen tradition in which an artist may spend all his life drawing the perfect Enso.
Concerning the price of a painting, these other elements should also be kept in mind:
- The cost of materials and tools (paint, canvas, brushes, etc.).
- The costs associated with the artist’s studio (location fees, electricity, heating, taxes, insurance, phone, web connection, air purification system, specialized installation according to the technique used, etc.).
- The costs related to art shows and exhibitions (framing, packaging, shipping, handling, commission taken by the gallery, enrollment costs to art competitions, etc.).
- Membership to one or many professional associations.
- Promotional materials (website, business cards, photos, etc.).
- The costs of workshops, art residencies, books, etc.
- The skill and reputation of the painter.
- And more.
The equation “the painting time should tell the cost of the artwork” is thus completely wrong and take no account of the reality of the artist’s life. There is a lot to do to inform the general public on the daily requirements, and obligations attached to the art of creating a painting.
As for how to answer the question, “How long did it take you to make that painting?”. To make it short, I would say something like: “A life of experiences”…
Thanks for your visit and see you soon,