I'm sure at one time or another, every artist is asked, "How long did it take you to paint that?" Very wise Jean Leigh of The Leigh Gallery in Chicago suggested to say, "Thirty-nine years (my age, HA! wishful thinking) because it has taken a lifetime to get to the point where we can paint as we do.
For many months I have been studying sky/water/boats, boats being very foreign to me other than through casual observation. A dear friend put forth Herculean effort and many, many hours to help me revamp and organize my Penthouse (attic) studio, and she would not accept a penny for it. She suggested she might like my little Door County plein air painting of the Fish Creek Harbor, which was so awful that it is now gessoed over and a different subject. I've wanted to give her something I can be proud of and that she will be happy to hang in her home.
Yesterday I went back to the Harbor near the Sailing Center looking for more lessons and inspiration. The sailboat in this painting was oddly floating this way and that, even in circles, seemingly with no real purpose or guidance. Upon closer look, it was clear that in that boat were five women without a care in the world, just laughing and floating around within the boundaries near the North Gap lighthouse. I came home and spent hours studying the photos and drawing the different images I had taken, carefully studying the angles. I got no painting done, other than to correct Pepper's eye from the previous day's painting and I was frustrated.
Today, I decided to try once again and as I was painting, I thought about those women who were having such a wonderful time on a beautiful June day, and I was disappointed that I allowed myself to get so frustrated over sails, water, and sky. That was the real lesson I learned yesterday at the Lakefront. I know this is not a perfect painting, and I may have more work to do. Honest husband critic says, "Nothing special." It has the elements that say "Milwaukee," and in this case, the amount of time it took me to paint it was incalculable, yet worth it in my mind.