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How long to paint a picture/Catching the light

'How long does it take you to paint a picture?' is a question I'm sometimes asked. It was answered brilliantly by a friend recently, who said she always answers '70 years'. She is so right, as every piece of work is a result of a lifetime of experience, learning and experimentation.

For me the actual time spent applying paint to a single canvas varies enormously from painting to painting. Added to this is all the time looking at and absorbing the landscape, sketching, trying out colours, making notes, imagining and all the other small things I do as part of my art making process. As a work nears completion I like to spend time with it hung on the wall in my studio while I do other things. Sometimes I work back into the painting several times, or it may just need a few more marks for me to judge it finished. As a complete contrast a 'plein air' work might be finished in an hour or two, but often I continue working on these paintings back in the studio.

Trying to capture the light is another thing I'm interested in, but also while doing the final evaluation of a new painting I look at it in different lights - daylight throughout the day, artificial light, fading evening light - to see how it looks and decide whether I'm happy with it. If not, it goes into my pile of canvases for repainting.

Since I returned from Cornwall over a month ago I've been focussing on my experiences there and feeding ideas into my newest paintings. I've now got four or five I am happy with and my head is still full of other things I want to try. (The first image is one of these new paintings) Next week I'm planning to take my paints and sketchbook back to the Norfolk coast. I can't wait to try some of my new ideas out on a familiar landscape and see where the journey takes me!

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