Quite often I am asked how long it took me to create a specific painting. And quite often my answer is that it took me my whole life. My reply is not meant to be flippant or evasive, but rather what I believe to be the rightful answer.
I admit, the reply is not original. As a young student at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, I had a very talented and wise painting instructor, George Nesbitt. Mr. Nesbitt, familiar with this question himself, suggested that the best response was “my whole life.”
At that time, as I painted in my early twenties, I did not feel comfortable with that response. Indeed, the question was asked many times, and my answer was to literally give them numbers in days, hours, or weeks. I did not grasp the concept of a painting taking my whole life to create, of it embodying my life or life’s experiences.
Today, I am quite comfortable with the response that a painting took me my whole life. As my work evolved, I grew further away from the academics of painting and began to create what I felt, what I experienced, and what I imagined. My schooling, my experiences, and my lifestyle brought me to a point of creativity free from constraints and expectations, absent of teachings and formulas. My paintings now reflect what I feel and what I want to convey. It is now that I realize, regardless of the amount of time spent rendering a painting, it indeed took a lifetime to get there.