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  • Writer's picturecarolyn land

How Long Does It Take to Create a Painting?

“Painting is manual labor, no different from any other: it can be done well, or poorly”                      George Gross

Many viewers want to know how long it takes to do a painting.  I often wonder about that question. Are they curious because they are equating time spent to the price, are they thinking the faster you work the better you must be, or are they are thinking about the process?   Maybe a little of each.  It is not an answer you can really give them.  Some paintings take years, some months, others take hours.

photo by FL artist Carolyn Land

FL photo

Many times students come into class and think that in a 3-hour session you can have a finished painting.  I am here to tell you, that doesn’t happen often.  Some paintings do take years. They are the ones that get finished after sitting in the pile of, “to be finished”, that I  mentioned last week.  Others do just happen, but in most cases they take days.

value study of phot by Fl artist Carolyn Land

Value study

Time to: plan a start, figure out what you want to paint and what you want to say, time to be retrieve the materials you will need, and time to lay out a format or idea. Then there is painting time, when your creative energy kicks in and you lose yourself in the work.  When that creative energy is spent, you need time to reflect, and in many cases rework.

“No matter how beautiful the subject matter or impressive the application technique, if the composition of visual elements within the painting is not strong, it will ultimately be considered a failure”. Richard McKinley

Pastel Painting by Fl artist Carolyn land


Putting a “finished” painting away and viewing it with fresh eyes is a very import part of the painting process.  When you view it with fresh eyes,  you ask yourself the important questions about composition, and evaluate your use of the “Principles of Good Design”.  It might only take a dot of red, or just a little line here or there.  But the little things you do to fine tune your work, are important to the whole.

“It is very hard work to turn out anything that looks like a good painting”                                              Georgia O”Keefee

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