Many of the impressionists reportedly painted fast. Of course in the age before decent photography, they often painted sketches of their subjects quickly before the light and other aspects of the scenes changed, and then they would repaint them in the studio. Of course, these “sketches” are magnificent paintings in their own right.
I wouldn’t call myself a slow painter. I’ve never been a really patient person. One of the reasons I started painting in the first place we to try to improve my patience. That said, I wouldn’t call myself a fast painter either. Most of my paintings are done in multiple sessions each of several hours. This is especially true when I paint at our mountain house, because I’m there for a weekend and then gone for two weeks. This is good, because I can put down some parts of a painting and then it will be pretty dry when I return to work on it some more. However, it also spoils me because I can paint in layers, which is not a good option when you don’t have two-week breaks.
The other reason to learn to paint faster is that I will never be a good plein aire painter if I don’t learn to paint an entire scene in one setting. So to that end, when in Falls Church I’m going to try to paint entire (small) works in one session. The painting below was painted in about two hours from a photo I took several years ago on the North Carolina shore. (My friend Rodney tells me I need to do more waterscapes.) I confess that I had done a pencil sketch on the board earlier. I actually like this painting it a lot. It’s best viewed at a distance, so the photograph may not do it justice.