Sharon Griffes Tarr is a veteran artist who writes a blog that I stumbled onto the other day. I thought it had some interesting things to say and secured permission to copy her words here. You could replace the word ‘artist’ with the words ‘craftsman’ and the thoughts still hold up very well.
Sharon Griffes Tarr:
“In the United States, time is money. We all know that and for the most part believe it and live it. We evaluate the cost of products by the length of time it takes to make them. With this mind set, it is only natural for folks to ask artists…”how long did it take you to do that?” The minute we tell them a plein air painting took less than two hours we’ve devalued the painting in their eyes. They do not see skill and visual voice as the major factors.
“Field Stones”, 8×10″, oil on canvas panel, plein air. Collection of: Mr. & Mrs. Richard Boruszewski
In reality, the value of art cannot be reduced to a measure of time. Sometimes a painting takes weeks, perhaps even months to complete and other times it goes very quickly. So many factors must go into the completion of a work, factors that override in importance the amount of time it takes to paint it.
The artist’s accumulated knowledge, experience, technical skill and the message he or she wishes to express are all important measures of the image. So too is it’s difficulty as all subjects and creative messages vary in complexity. Time, as a measure of value, is irrelevant…it has nothing to do with art other than the time it takes to become masterful in what one does…which is, for the record, a very long time measured in years. It may be a lifetime. For this reason, the only logical answer to that question must incorporate the artist’s age or length of time he or she has painted plus the hours spent creating the physical aspects of the painting. Therefore, there is only one reasonable answer to “how long did it take you to do that”. For myself, my response is…”50 years and some hours to apply paint to canvas”.