One of the most common questions from people viewing my paintings is, “How long does it take you to do a painting”?
Although a great many other artists have looked at my work, the question is usually posed by someone that doesn’t paint. Nevertheless, it is a perfectly reasonable one that deserves an answer. My usual reply is another question: “Beginning when”?
The actual execution of a painting is easy to calculate but has absolutely no bearing on its quality. Facetiously, I often answer, “The good ones three hours and the bad ones three weeks!”
A painting usually begins with an idea that is sometimes nurtured and mulled over for years before it comes to fruition on paper or canvas. Very often it has been tried unsuccessfully several times and modified again and again, finally blossoming into an accepted finality.
Most folks on North Island have seen me painting outdoors, an activity that renews and inspires me. What they don’t know is that I’m usually not working on the finished product but is the first sketch of a later, finished version. Every once in a while this first sketch is a “keeper”. This is what happened to the painting shown here, “Summer on the Marble”.
I had promised Sally McLean, an artist from Colorado, and her daughter, Martha that we would go out one day on a painting excursion. They were staying at Port McNeill’s Broughton Manor, owned and operated, at that time, by Marg Hanuse, also an artist. One sunny morning in July we agreed to meet at the Marble River Campground to paint along the river there.
What a great spot that campground is! With only (would you believe?) one camper in the entire place I chose a beautiful spot in which I could peek through the trees at the river, sat at one of the tables and spread out my painting stuff, coffee and all!
Marg, Sally and Martha arrived and soon Marg was painting as well. Sally was content just to watch the paintings in progress while Martha did some exploring as well as passing out things like Nanaimo bars and other goodies.
The camp site was in the shade and totally comfortable with, surprisingly, no bugs. We enjoyed the companionship and the food while the paintings kept evolving.
In my painting I had chosen to juxtapose the dark trees of the campsite against the sunlit boulders of the river below. Engrossed in what I was doing, Sally remarked that she didn’t know how I was going to pull it off. Neither did I but just kept plugging away. An hour or so later, when it all came together, no-one was more surprised than me.
It was a lovely afternoon, painting in the company of three gracious ladies; a tough way to make a living but someone has to do it!
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