I've been meaning to write this post for a long time, a few years actually. After a painting session at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden the other day which entailed many interactions with passers-by, I thought it was time to do this. And, maybe consider getting a t-shirt made of these Q's and A's!
1) How long does it take you to finish a painting? This has to be the #1 question I am asked - ALL THE TIME. I find it to be kind of an odd question. Why would that matter? Maybe it's the easiest one to ask?
Not to be snide, but "It depends" is the answer. Mostly it depends on the size and complexity of a painting. However, there are some paintings that seem to paint themselves with hardly any effort from me; almost as if I had known all along about this painting and how to put it together. Then there are some which are agonizingly time and energy consuming. These often involve multiple composition and/or palette alterations, and occasionally I might even give up. Yes, there are paintings that I've either painted over or are sitting in a storage shelf never to see the light of day. But, I manage to resolve most of my paintings to my satisfaction. Probably the most extreme example of this is the 72"x48" Lily Pads with Two Trees. I worked on that one (on and off) for almost three years and it underwent major changes.
2) How do you decide when a painting is finished?
That's a hard one to articulate. Technically speaking, I'd want a painting to have a good balance of light and shadow, an interesting composition (although that needs to be nailed down early on, it's not something you can easily correct), and it's captured the original excitement I had when I first saw the view. There's always the tension (for me anyway) of having a painting looking done, but not over-worked. Often, I seek the input of a trusted artist friend (usually my studiomate!). Usually, I just know, partly from not knowing what else could be done and partly from liking what I see.
3) Why did you pick this scene to paint?
Now that's a good question! Also, a very hard one for me to articulate. I am attracted to a lot of different views - landscapes to close-ups, but I suppose the things that matter the most are the existence of: an interesting composition, created by or complemented by an interplay of light and shadow, juicy colors, and often the interaction of man-made and nature. I look for patterns, angles, proportions, and then the time of day and season can have a big impact on an outdoor scene. Some days I'm in the mood for urban and gritty, other days I want peace and a lot of nature. Inevitably, I find "beauty" in every scene I paint.
These are the most common three. Let me know what questions you have for me!