Painting speed is not a skill, it's aquired by experience


 Quite similar to the loose style that I got quite a few emails about, painting fast is not a style nor a skill. We live in such a hurry today, and quite often we want things fast: Email over a hand written letter,  people read the headline and come to conclusion instead of study deeper, we stream videos online instead of physically go to a Blockbuster and pick up a movie. Granted, many of these changes are for the better, we are able free up more time for things are more important. But many people in this generation started to weight speed more than quality.

I am sure you've watch some master painters doing their painting demo on DVD tutorials. Or even my videos on YouTube. And you might thought to yourself "they painted so fast and it came out good! I want to do the same!". But wait, there are a few things you need to know:

  1. The videos have been edited- Even if they paint fast, the production studio need to cut the video down so they can fit several painting demos into one DVD. So What you see in the video is never a full length of the painting. I fall into that trap when I first started and I end up frustrated. Until I took a workshop in person, seeing the master work in real life
  2. It comes largely from experience- Painting speed is not something an artist learn, it is acquired by experience. The more you paint, the more experience you are, the better decision you can make on the fly and the faster you paint. The more practice you had, the minimum attempt you require to paint a good shape.
  3. It's a familiar subject- Artists are known for the subject they paint. That's also how they get so good and fast when painting - They paint their familiar subjects! They know their subject and it's almost imprinted in their brain. They know what makes their subject look the way it is, the visual language and the composition. They don't need to take time to figure out how to paint these, because they know quite well ahead of the time.

 As you are learning to paint a new subject, or just learning to paint watercolor in general, don't pursue speed! I don't mean you spend tens of hours on one painting and dabbing your way to the end. I mentioned before about how dabbing will make muddy, dirty looking painting. What I am saying is try spend time to think, plan and carefully execute. I see many young painters going for speed and not giving enough care for the shape they paint. The painting end up looking messy and careless. It's like somebody dressed sloppy and call it a style.

Speed is never something you should pursue.
Learn to paint a good picture first, then speed will follow.

 It may look cool ad fun when someone is painting fast. But at the end of the day, a better looking painting is what people really care about. When the painting is hanging on the wall, few people will care about how long did it take to paint this painting. Most people will care about how the painting look and the connection it makes with the viewer. You can't always capture a timeless moment within a short time.