15 years ago I attended the Illustration Academy in Richmond, VA. One of the visiting artists was Mark English - he was around 70 years old at the time and had been painting for decades. He carried an air of Clint Eastwood gravitas, wise and no-nonsense. He said that when people asked him how long it took him to do a painting, he’d respond something along the lines of '65 years and 3 days.’ I’ve heard different variants of this over the years and when I repeat Mark’s version, people often reply, “Man, that guy sounds like an asshole.” But I thought the opposite. Mark English is a craftsman and his value is the sum total of years and years of accumulated knowledge, experimentation, study, practice, and experience that have been honed into instinct. Bob Dylan has said that some of his notable songs were written in a matter of minutes, but a novice songwriter can't just sit down and crank out Blood on the Tracks.
My paintings are fairly quick - some take a few days, others drag on much longer. There is a process involved - locating an appropriate historical photograph, manipulating it in Photoshop, printing it, projecting it, drawing it, doing an underpainting, and then executing the actual painting, which is comprised of many layers. Sometimes the painting comes easy and choices happen instantaneously, other times it’s a street fight. A while back, I threw away over 75 ‘duds,’ paintings that just didn’t hit the mark. But, in my opinion, failure is fertilizer for success. Bottom line - one individual work of art can happen quickly but the path to get there is rarely fast or easy.