Art and Speed
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    Art and Speed

    Hey guys, just another useless whine thread... Here goes!

    Do you ever worry about how fast you work when you do your art? Quality is top priority, but if you're looking for a job, I'd imagine efficiency is up there too. I look around on Deviantart at people who do reasonable work, and they can do pictures in 3-4 hours that look decent. That always makes me feel insecure when I see that. I can literally take double that to make something very poor/mediocre.

    For example the timer that I posted took around 5-6 hours. :/

    I always feel anal about detail and 'working till it's finished' even though I might just be changing things that don't really matter, or make a .1% difference (or may even make it worse!).

    Maybe it's because I'm still searching through the technique I do? I don't know. Hopefully this is just a phase and maybe it'll pass.

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    I've recently come to realize that nearly all of the art I admire was done in an extraordinarily long amount of time. I think it was very common for the old masters to spend literally years on paintings. I saw an amazing wood carving from Bali yesterday and it said that it took 4 men two years to finish. That's the kind of dedication that you really need if you want to make amazing art.

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    If you want to work in production then speed is as important as quality. The type of art you like will probably determine the type of art you make. For me faster is better and all of the painters I admire worked directly, usually in one or two sittings to finish a painting. There are exceptions to that but they usually worked on a grand scale and so their efficiency was still important when faced with mural sized works. Just know that today very few clients will give you months or years to complete a single image. I'm probably one of the few people on here that does large scale commissions and I can assure you spending a year or more on a single painting is off the table for most of my clients.

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    Well the more knowledge you take in and practice you do. The more things are internalized. The more things are internalized the less you have to think, plan, or fix mistakes. The less you have to think, plan or fix mistakes the faster you work. (By less you have to plan I mean it's easier, you don't have to think about the rules of composition as much, or how this will look. You just know, 'Oh if I put this here then the eye goes up here, then I'll accent it with blah blah blah')

    Most people focus on getting things right before they worry about getting things done quick. Though this is for final products (depends on what it is though as dpaint said. Storyboarding a tv show as an example or something is obviously much different from painting fine art). I've learned tons from quick studies the same as from long drawn out studies.

    Last edited by JFierce; August 23rd, 2012 at 11:04 PM.
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    Speed comes from a sureness of technique. Timed gesture studies help develope speed. They teach you to capture the essential essence of the subject in a few strokes. It just takes training your hand to record what you see swiftly. I like to sit in a store parking lot and try to capture the personalities of the people coming in and out. Its hard because sometimes you only get a brief glimpse of the person so you have to hold it in your minds eye before it fizzles out. It is a fun exercise to do though. There're a lot of interesting looking people all around us.

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    It's not my thing to work slow but not everyone is after that same aesthetic. I know people who take 6 months to a year to finish one painting and a small painting at that; 16x20 or smaller. Those people have no interest in working directly and probably couldn't work that way to any success if you put a gun to their head because its not in their nature.

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    Part of it is experience, part of it the medium, part of it the techniques, etc. Some media and methods are faster than others and demand a higher level of skill to pull them off effectively. An example is colored pencil work...super slow...a passage that may take an hour to lay down in colored pencil may take 30 seconds with paint...but it takes a much higher level of skill and experience to lay in the passage with paint as opposed to coloring it in with a point.

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    For the purpose of learning, it's generally better to focus on accuracy over speed. Over time, accuracy becomes a habit and it becomes easier to work both quickly and accurately.

    Though of course medium and technique are a big factor, too. Fully rendering things in pencil (like your example,) is a relatively slow technique no matter what. Doing the same thing in charcoal or ink washes, for instance, might be faster, simply because those are mediums that allow you to lay in large areas of tone quickly with one stroke, whereas with pencil you have to make a lot of strokes.

    And whether you end up focusing on speed depends on what kind of work you want to do. If you end up doing traditional glazing with oils in an ultra detailed precise style, then there's no way you're going to do it quickly.

    And whether you need to focus on speed depends on your market and what fields you work in. Speed can be an asset, but there have been plenty of successful artists who work slowly. If speed turns out to be absolutely not your thing due to preferred methods/style/temperament, you just have to find a niche where speed isn't a major factor.

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    Focus on learning to do it right. You can train for speed later.

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    As you go on you learn what techniques to use and what decisions and sacrifices to make to have something go faster -- if speed is your goal. The same as you choose whether to drive or bus or bike or walk to where you're going. Each decision has its pros and cons and the ones you make depend on how much time you have and what experience or result you want.

    For example, you have already chosen to put all your detail and work into the object and zero work into the environment. You decreased the time you spent on the picture by quite a bit by putting ALL your work into the focal point, but the drawback is that you have a thing floating in whitespace. You're already deciding how to spend your time, you just don't know what the range of options is. As you experiment with more media and techniques and ways of doing things you will have a better idea of what you can cut out and what you really want to spend time on.

    PS - quit obsessing on how and what and where everyone else is doing. Look for a job that suits your skills. If you love 200-hour detailed graphite pictures it makes no sense to have a business model that depends on fast sketches. If your process is very work-intensive you'll want to price your original high and make prints.

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    Thanks for all your responses and help. I'll try different media and ways to do things.

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    LORD M is offline That guy from the cheer me up thread Level 13 Gladiator: Retiarius
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    Speed comes with accuracy and knowledge. The more you know by practicing and the more accurate your strokes are, the less strokes you need to make and thereby it will go faster. And as with knowledge, speed also comes with time.

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