how long did it take to make that?

I get asked this question quite a bit. Whenever asked, I would try and think back to when I painted something and guesstimate the amount of time I spent on the piece in question.

No matter how I word's probably going to come across as snarky. So be it. That is not my intent. This is not a rant. Please keep reading.

I can't honestly answer this question when asked. I have just realized this. Just today. I'll explain why.


This is a portrait I finished last week of Lorrie Matheson. This portrait (which is 8x10 in.) took me nearly 7 years to paint. I'm not kidding.

So, back in 2007, myself and a few friends went to Calgary to see CAKE. We spent the afternoon wandering around the Kensington area. We parked in the Safeway parking lot and in order to not get in shit from the commissionaire patrolling the parking lot, we ducked inside and bought some vegetables. You know, to make our parking 'legit'. I like taking photos, so we walked around Kensington, with a small but diverse array of vegetables and I took pictures of us, and our veggies, interacting with people around Kensington. Here is what that looked like:

that's me, with my artichoke hanging out in Hot Waxx.

that's me, with my artichoke hanging out in Hot Waxx.

We eventually ended up at Hot Waxx. I asked the guy working there at the time if he would let me take a photo of him holding the artichoke. He did. I told him I planned on painting a picture from this photo, and when I did, I would send it to him.


And then? Then, well.....lots. I didn't actually start on the painting until last week. I contacted Lorrie and asked for his address the day I started the painting. At the time of taking this photo of him I was not confident at all in my portrait painting skills. I'm sorry he had to wait so long for his painting....but not really. It would have not been very good had I painted it shortly after this fun little trip to Calgary happened.

This is not normally the case. Most ideas start as little sketches on a small piece of paper taped to my 'idea wall' in the studio. They might sit there for a few days, a few weeks....maybe a month. Once I get the canvas and actually start the painting process? Again, it's hard to say. I normally have 3-4 pieces on the go at any time. While I wait for a layer to dry on one, I'm working on adding a layer to one of the other ones, and maybe eyeing a blank canvas I happen to have sitting around and thinking what's gonna go on it next. Really, my time frame for painting a piece -start to finish- is anywhere from 2 hours to 7 (ish) years. Or, I don't really know. Which I really don't. When I'm painting, I'm not thinking about how long it's going to take me. It takes as long as it takes. How long does it take to write a song? Make an album? Cook a nice dinner for your friends? 

I'm not trying to be rude or make fun of the question. I'm also trying to be more honest with my answer. I don't really know how long it takes me to paint or draw things. I work on things until I think they are done, or I get tired of working on them. Whichever comes first.

I'm nearly ready for Mexico. We leave tomorrow morning. I brought books to read, my sketchbook, my watercolors, my instax camera and my it makes sense to work on a lovely 2nd pair of fingerless gloves while visiting a tropical destination. Right?