Thursday, January 12, 2012


Tom Tom
12" X 16"
Original Oil

The temperature here is in the teens during the day so it seems appropriate that I have finished this piece. The inspiration for the painting is from my backyard.

After a particularly big snow storm several years ago I wanted to take photos of the heavy snow-laden branches. In my traipsing around the property I ran into a flock of turkeys. There were hens but it was the toms in which I was most interested. They seemed to have a certain swagger to their walks as if to say, "Yeah, snow, so what. Nothing we can't handle."

I first drew this painting in August. One of the questions we artists often are asked is, "How long did it take you to paint this?"  The answer is difficult. From when do you want me to count? This painting is a good illustration of that difficult answer. I have been taking photos of snow and turkeys around my property for years. The reference I used for this piece were from 2008. I've been thinking about this concept in particular since then. Once I worked out the composition this summer, I set the board aside. The end of November I painted the background and some of the left turkey. At the Grand Opening week of Pacific Flyway Gallery in December, I demonstrated how I paint by finishing the breast of the left turkey. Now I have finished the right turkey and the foreground sticks to complete the painting.

Did I start this piece in August? yes. Did I start it in 2008? yes.  Did I start it before then when I spent hours watching turkeys around our place? yes.
My time holding the brush and applying paint is a small percentage of the time I spend to create a piece.
A number of years ago, a photographer asked me how long it took me to paint a piece. When I asked her did she mean putting the brush on the canvas, she said yes. My answer surprised her. She must have thought (after dividing my price by my hours) that my "price per hour" was high. I did not point out to her that her professional photographs took less than 1 second to shoot. I know the time investment required to get that perfect shot.

I know I will continue to get asked this question at shows. That's OK. People are curious how this process works. Maybe some who ask have started painting themselves and think if I can paint something like this in that amount of time, they can too. Maybe they can. Maybe they can paint a better piece. Or, maybe the person asking has never lifted a brush but wants a peak into how my day unfolds. I figure if someone asks, they like what they see. (If they didn't they wouldn't care how long it took me!) I may not have a definitive answer, but I thank them for their interest.

By the way, in case you are wondering where the title for the turkey painting came from, not me. I was struggling with what to call the painting and throwing around ideas with my husband, when he threw out Tom Tom. He says he meant it as a joke, but once I heard it, that was it. Tom Tom it was!

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