The blurring of time
I spend between 20 and 30 hours in the studio every week, including several hours after my regular work day and full days on weekends. The hours are filled with many different activities as various projects move to completion: drawing, painting, finishing, photographing, and packaging.
This is the most physically demanding part of any painting project. For some bizarre reason, I find sketching out the subject(s) to be the hardest on my body, particularly so when it is a large canvas. I've learned that getting the drawing right is the most crucial step, especially when doing portraiture. The colours can figure themselves out, but if you mess up on the proportions or the location of facial details, it leads to a world of trouble.
While the most time intensive, painting is like being able to enjoy a feast after a whole bunch of prep work. This is where time slips away and I lose myself.
"How long does it take for you to do a painting?" is the most common question that I get asked. The answer really varies. Some can take as little as an hour while others, more complex pieces, can take many hours.
When working on larger paintings with multiple subjects, I often need to take a break and do a couple of smaller pieces.
When a painting is mostly complete, I send an image to the client -if it is a commission - then work on the finishing touches. In all of my paintings, I take the time to finish the sides of the canvas, taking the colours and subjects over the edge. Once the painting is dry, I attach hanging hardware so that the purchaser can put if up on the wall immediately.
Each painting gets photograph so that I have a high quality, high resolution digital image of it. My preference is to photograph in my studio, as the lighting and the step up is perfect for getting a good capture. Unfortunately, when I do live painting in other communities, it is difficult to find lighting conditions that will give me the archival quality photograph that I require. With that in mind, I always reserve the right to bring the almost finished painting home with me to Birdsong Studio for touch ups and photography.
A small percentage of my work gets shipped to other locations in Canada and the U.S. I keep a large selection of cardboard in stock so that I can create custom shipping boxes. I also have to maintain a good supply of bubble wrap and packing tape. It's surprising how much shipping material goes into ensuring that a painting arrives safely on the other end.
Like any business, there are many little processes and steps that enable success. I'm still learning how to be more efficient and provide better service to my customers. I'm also getting better at making sure I have all the necessary supplies in hand at all times. I have to keep on top of things because before I know it, I could run out of my favourite colour or particular canvas sizes.
The thing I need to keep reminding myself is that I am still relatively new at this business. I've been doing painting seriously for just over three years. I'm still learning something new every day. It's a blur really, and still a great joy.