January 6, 2011

How Long Did That Painting Take You?

And the story goes…

Picasso was sitting at a table outside a Paris cafe. A woman came up to him and asked him to draw something for her on a napkin. He complied, doodling as only he could. After he quickly finished he requested the French equivalent  of $5,000. Aghast the woman said — “but it only took you 2 minutes!” Smiling, the great man replied — “no Madam, it took me my whole life.”

I’ve been asked this before but sometimes my response feels as though it minimizes all of what went into making the artwork. OK, so it only took me a day to complete, but the skill, passion and experience have been compiled over my entire lifetime. Next time someone says “How long did that painting take you?”… My response will simply be “My entire lifetime



  • Regina Burchett February 7, 2011

    I have a friend who is also a pastel artist, and her response is usually along the lines of ‘3 days and 40 years’.
    It seems difficult for some people to understand, myself included at times, because sometimes I can do a painting I love in a few hours, or work on one for a week and it fights me all the way.

    • Vanessa February 7, 2011

      Hi Regina, thanks for all of your wonderful comments! I always look forward to your visits. Even if your painting took you a few hours, what you put into it, took you a lifetime to develop 🙂 It holds true for every artist no matter the medium or age. By the way, I really love your latest triptych paintings.

  • Donna Welsh February 8, 2011

    What a great post! What a great answer! Good ol’ Picasso. I understand Regina’s experience. There have been works that have taken me what seems to be forever, challenging me the entire time. Then, sometimes, I experience flow, and everything just comes together.
    Thanks for posting this. Your work is fabulous, as is your website…I’ll get mine up and running one day soon, I hope.

    • Vanessa February 9, 2011

      Hi Donna, thanks for stopping by 🙂 Oh such is the life of an artist huh? One minute all is well and the next you are fighting with your work and materials as if all is foreign. I guess these are the things that challenge us and help us to grow, but likewise, I feel as though I could do without those moments sometimes LOL!

      Hope you do get your website going one day. Also, a blog can easily be turned into a website which is far more easier to manage.

  • Regina Burchett February 8, 2011

    Thank you, Vanessa! I think I may end up working on that tiger just a little more – I want to give him a little more color and variation – he looks too “normal”. 🙂 But I have to work my regular job for a while first, alas….

    • Vanessa February 9, 2011

      I will pop back in to have a peek for sure Regina. Hope you have a wonderful & creative one!

  • Anne W February 9, 2011

    boy that’s so true.. sometimes people have no appreciation for the years it takes to develop one’s craft and skill… or at least its probably never occurred to them to think about it.

    • Vanessa February 10, 2011

      Hi Anne, I concur! I just don’t think people stop to think of it that way. Even ourselves the artists can sometimes overlook it.

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