Man, making a painting is a lot of work. To further clarify: making a large oil painting is a lot of work. I do a lot of things. Drawing, paintings large and small, photos, and prints. Each takes its own amount of work but it’s the large oil (30×40 inches on up) that easily soaks up the most time. Before this week I haven’t painted a large one in a over year so I almost forgot what it was like.

A couple of years ago I tired of the larger works. I’d been doing them for a decade and a half as my primary painting outlet and I wanted to work with smaller images mare quickly. Smaller canvases don’t have the impact bigger ones do but I wanted to compensate for that with more images. Speed was inportant. I started doing small 8×10 inch canvases in acrylic. I’ve done plenty of those smaller canvases over the last two years. Maybe a hundred of them. I’m now tired of how little time they take; compared to the big oils at least. The small ones don’t really go that fast. They’re not sketches.

This week I’ve gone back to painting a big oil. Hour after hour of laying down paint. The craft of it can clear the mind in a way other things can’t. My way of painting is very methodical and the finished work slowly reveals itself almost like it’s inevitable. It’s an interesting experience again. But it’s a lot of work.

I move in and out of concentration fairly easily. It’s a way of keeping my mind limber and when doing preliminary work on a painting it’s essential so that I can see new things. When doing smaller works I also move in and out of concentration because dynamic changes are always happening in small stuff. Things are easy to change.

In the larger works things have to be worked out in advance to a much higher degree. As the scale changes it makes it harder to fix mistakes so planning is a must. When I get to the final painting much of the art is done and much of the craft is left to do. It then takes a fatiguing amount of concentration. I had forgotten this.

I also mix almost all of my colors that I will need and have them all laid out on my palette. This means the clock is ticking. Oil paint takes a long time to dry when it is in huge lumps but leaving it there for days isn’t a good idea. A skin will develop and ruin the paint with chunks. That will still take a couple of days so its not like acrylic paint which will dry in hours. But when a large oil takes anywhere from 50-100 hours to paint you have to keep moving. Days go by.

It takes a lot of work. It’s much more tiring than the same amount of time doing numerous small pieces. I had forgotten that. Now I remember.