I'm often asked at art shows how long it takes me to complete a piece. Not a bad question. But one I'm not always sure how to answer. I mean, does the person just want to converse? Or does he want to know how much I'm making per hour, to compare to himself? Or is he really curious about the process? (And I use the male pronoun because it is generally men who ask me that question.)
It is a question we artists talk about between ourselves when we are standing around our booths. Not so much the answer to the question but how we respond to it when asked.
Some artists--some really famous and some not so much--who simply say that the piece has taken them "x" number of years, that being equal to the number of years they have been painting, since all their previous knowledge about art has gone into every piece. I kind of get that response but it seems evasive, like you don't want anyone to know how fast you are. I, myself, am relatively fast with the oil pastels but I have chosen to be an artist not to account for my every hour but to create art that I like and that people like and buy. So, I don't really keep track. I can tell you that my night scene skies take much more time than the puffy clouds, but I truly don't know how much more--twice, three times, not really sure. Sometimes I can get a couple of decent size pieces done in a day, other times only one. Sometimes I get 5 little guys completed in an 8 hour day. Sometimes not.
Then there is the issue of that is the time devoted to production. There are framing days, show days, set-up days, travel days, framing days, email hours, show application times, stamping and printing of postcards to be sent before a show, Christmas cards to design, ads to send into production, thank you notes to write, accounting to do, keeping track of which states you've sold in and what amounts of sales tax are due when, inventory-ing of art and framing supplies, hotel reservations to make, oil changes to the van--our nearest dealership is 160 miles away, taking of reference photos, uploading them and then ordering them from shutterfly, blogging, conversing with potential customers via email and phone. So, like lots of businesses, the production is only one part of it. And, in my opinion, the fun part! And, I am super lucky that my husband, Rees, takes care of a lot of the non-production part of the business. Thanks, Rees!