March 5, 2019

Answers to Artist Questions

Artists get asked a lot of questions. I am occasionally asked the following questions.

“How long does it take for you to create a painting?”

It’s hard to answer the question of long it really takes to physically do one painting because I often work on several paintings at once and switch working on one to another. The more complex answer is: it takes between 1 and 30+ years to do a painting. That’s because each painting draws upon the experiences I have amassed from each stage of my art career, which goes back longer than 30 years ago. Sometimes I only draw upon knowledge of a year ago, to make something that takes about 2-3 weeks to physically paint.

Sometimes I use skills and ideas from 30 years ago. Like many artists, I spend a lot of time looking, see, observing, gathering information, being struck with inspiration, cultivating plans, ideas and visuals, and all that takes time. I spend more time doing all of those things than I actually spend painting. Those are necessary steps. That means every time I have changed parts of my art career, I have taken time to do many things like I listed above, all over again. It’s a very time consuming process. No painting comes into being without having done some type of research, thought and idea preparation.

So how long does it take to create a painting?  Every month the world is lucky enough to see about 2-4 new paintings from my studio.  But the best answer is what I really believe. It takes a lifetime to create each painting. Experience counts for a lot.

“Where do you get your inspirations?”

I’m inspired by literally everything I see. My ideas can come and go quickly depending on what I see or thing of on any given day. Like many painters, I am very visually oriented, but I do have selective seeing based on what I’m interested in. And I get a lot of ideas from just thinking about things. I am inspired by nature, environmental issues, people, other art, other forms of art, what I imagine, what I read about, what I see online, and everything else. I can fully develop an idea for a series of paintings and then only do one or two paintings with that idea. Much of doing art is, in that sense, very internalized and not necessarily existing in the real world. Sometimes if it exists in my mind, that’s enough for me to have “done” it. The creative process is very mental. That’s why I don’t like the word “maker” to describe artists. Artists “make” things often in their minds, and sometimes only in their minds! Art does not have to exist in the 3D world.  It’s a weird concept for a lot of people to understand, but it’s true.


If you have any questions for Shelly, use the Contact Form and send them in!


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