Monday, May 16, 2011

Work continues on "Fall Farm Stand"

After some delays, I‘m back to work on a piece based on a photo of gourds I took last fall. I’m calling it Fall Farm Stand. It is for a nice couple who traded me a piano for my daughter to play. 

The gourd I painted today is the one in the upper right hand corner of the photo below. It is dark orangish-red with dark gray sploches and a big yellow place where it was sitting on the ground while it grew.

I’ve decided that I should try to keep track of the hours I spend on some of my new pieces. Everyone always asks me “How much time did it take you to make this?” and I never know exactly what to say. I wonder whether these people place a monetary value on things that take a long time to make, or whether they are simply curious. Or do they think I just whip these things out, and that my prices are way too high? What is the appropriate hourly wage for an artist, anyway? Pricing is always a difficult issue for an artist.

After about two hours, here’s how the gourd looked, with the dark orange and yellow painted in:

Here’s how it looked after four hours, with the dark and light grays filled in, and some highlights and shadows added:

I will be adding the rest of the details with thread sketching and quilting. I’m doing all of the gourds on this piece separately. Some of the bumpier ones will have melted Tyvek pieces on them. Then they will all get needleturn appliqued down to the background before thread sketching. 

I spent about two hours working on the gray pumpkin earlier. You can read about it in my previous post. Total hours on this piece so far: approximately 6.


  1. Awesome gourd! The shading is fantastic.

    I get that a lot too, Susan, the question about how long something takes. The best response I've ever heard from another quilter was "As long as it takes."

    Mostly I think it's an endurance thing, almost like asking a marathon runner how much they work out. It's a comparison of what that person's mental comfort level is comparing it to yours.

    While I don't like comparisons, and I certainly don't like quilters feeling like they can't do something because it's too hard or too time consuming, I do think artists should be paid for our time.

    While it's not essential to record every millisecond spent on a piece, it is important to make sure you're not making less than $4.00 per hour. That's just too low!



  2. Susan, a recent piece of research indicated that the median hourly wage for a fine artist was about $21.

    A whole different way of looking at time takes the creative time and sales time into account as well.

    How much time did you take in creating the design? Photographing gourds,selecting which piece you wanted to use, sizing it, getting it reproduced, creating the pencil design on the fabric? Taking the options to your clients for their input? All of that has to go into the time considerations if you are measuring time.

    We artists tend to overlook the time we spend just coming up with the ideas.

    PS Looking great.