All sat down with a cup of tea and a Kit Kat to hand, so I'm ready to make a stab at answering this question. Except of course it's unanswerable with any degree of accuracy. So the best I can do is share a few thoughts about the link between time and painting.
When people ask , after looking at one of my super magnificent works and gasping with awe and amazement, " How long did it take for you to paint that masterpiece?" I usually look a bit embarrassed, shuffle my feet and mumble something like "Well I have several paintings on the go at once so I can't really say."
But it has me thinking and really I need a better answer, for those who ask, and for me and obviously for commercial reasons.
So here goes...start to finish.
You can't really count the time it takes to conceive the idea. Most artists say it comes to you in an unguarded moment. I suppose you could put aside a set time, but in practice I don't think that happens.
But once you've got your idea next comes the gathering of reference material , drawings perhaps long completed, sketches yet to be done. Photographic reference too.
Working out the composition can involved rough or detailed drawings, or areas of colour and tone, or a combination of both. I've known this to take longer than the actual painting.
Preparing the painting materials. We have to buy these things and although the internet has made life easier I still find myself spending valuable time trawling through catalogues or visiting my favourite shops. See my post about where to buy art materials. There's also work to be done preparing what you're painting on.
Marking out your surface, so you know where to put the paint - for some this is of utmost importance. Some just go gung-ho with no preparation at all.
Next comes the main course, painting, brush to canvas time, arguably the most important part and the bit we artists get the most enjoyment from. I need a lot of thinking time at this stage, paint a bit, step back, have a think. This all can go on for days.
Drying time doesn't involve much active participation, but framing does because even if you don't do it yourself framing is part of the process and has to be decided upon and arranged.
So how long does it take to paint a picture? I don't know because each one is different and I don't time myself.
But this is the process I go through and all the things that are involved.
I haven't answered the question, have I?
But thank you for listening!