We’ve Painted How Many Paintings?

We’ve Painted How Many Paintings?

By Wes Siegrist

Wes Siegrist with paintings in 1987
Me with some of my “splatter” paintings in 1987
Wes Siegrist first outdoor show in 1987
My first outdoor show in 1987. I had painted 64 paintings in two weeks for it!

People often wonder and ask how often we paint. Our answer is pretty much all the time. Times that both of us are away from our easel are exceptions versus the norm and they add up to less days than we can count on our hands each month. The only exceptions are the months where we travel to exhibitions. All that time at our easels means we produce a lot of paintings annually. We currently average between 75 to 100 paintings each year with an additional half dozen drawings done as gifts or donations.

Wes Siegrist painting in Naples, FL in 1988
Me painting in Naples, FL in 1988

Early in our career, when we were not so focused on creating highly refined work, and even used spray bottles and 3 inch brushes, we might produce two dozen paintings a day! Our business model was certainly work harder with the thought being that the more we could produce and sell, the better for paying our bills and surviving as artists. These fast paintings sold for a pittance, usually under $35, and we managed to persist as painters. Later, in part due to reproductions filling in for this lower priced market, we chose to concentrate on elaborate compositions filled with inordinate amounts of detail covering paper and canvases averaging 19 x 29 inches. It took us two to six months to finish one painting! By the mid 1990s we had already painted and sold well over a thousand works!

Wes Siegrist at FONZ Art Show in 1999
Me at the Friends of the National Zoo Art Show, Washington, D.C. in 1999

I used to laughingly remark in my classes this benefit of doing so many paintings: “Most artists only produce “x” amount of work in their career and learn from doing that amount. We’re just getting “x” amount done now to learn from our mistakes earlier!” It was true to a degree but as time went on we realized artists are always learning and constantly making mistakes!

Rachelle Siegrist with her fish paintings in 1990
Rachelle with some of her fish paintings in 1990
Wes and Rachelle Siegrist with his paintings in 1996
Us with my watercolor paintings in 1996 at Brushstrokes Gallery

Painting so much also affected the answer to the question “How long does it take to paint that?”. So much experience with mixing colors, adjusting values and knowing how to edit compositions made it more instinctive and the process faster. On the flip side, having done a fish painting 300 times before made us want to do this next one different … and better … taking more time. You might say, we’re faster painters now but we take more time refining our work. A familiar subject will go quicker than something completely new to us. Miniature paintings also tend to take far longer to do, per square inch, than any of our conventional scaled works. We’ve been known to spend 2-3 weeks on a portrait miniature measuring a mere six square inches!

Rachelle Siegrist at Lake Placid Art Show in 1999
Rachelle at the Lake Placid Art Show in 1999

Since starting with miniature paintings in the late 1990s we’ve completed over 1,400 of them! Do we tire of picking up the brushes? No way! We may tire of paperwork, framing and traveling to shows but we love the smell of the paint when we lift the lids on our palettes and anticipate that first brushstroke! We have 20+ years worth of photo reference for future paintings that is augmented constantly, so our resources and desire seem limitless. We’re so indebted to the collectors who have enhanced their collections with our paintings. More than helping to pay our bills they’re making it happen for us to keep painting more!

Rachelle Siegrist painting at MASF Exhibition 2009
Rachelle painting at the Miniature Art Society of Florida’s International Miniature Art Show in 2009 (Photo courtesy of Bill Mundy)

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