The total, lifetime, output of an artist is called an oeuvre. If you spend any time at all reading and researching artists you’ll find oeuvre size varies wildly. Occasionally an artist dies young leaving only a few significant pieces. Slightly more frequently, an artist’s particularly small oeuvre can be due to misidentification as their work is wrongly attributed to either their teacher or their student; in at least one case, an artist had ‘lost’ pieces to both. Female artists frequently have smaller oeuvres than male artists due to the variety of demands that society places on women. For many female artists childbearing also limits overall artistic production but an argument could easily be made that it is the child-rearing that has a more negative impact on art production. Early female artists whose husbands ran all aspects of their household, including business and domestic chores, had respectably sized oeuvres even when rearing a multitude of children (one artist had 11 children, for example.) Artists of color have, historically, been more likely to create folk art objects or crafts that also served a function which not only shortens the life of the piece but also reduces the likelihood of the pieces being signed thereby leaving no documented oeuvre.
I mention all of this because the concept of keeping track of my artistic production is of interest to me. Enough so I made a production sheet which I used diligently for about 3 weeks. Then something came up, I even forget what the something was, and I lost track of the production sheet although I still kept producing. I have now found my old production sheet and I’m trying to decide if I want to try to resurrect the embryonic habit.
My production sheet includes the hours worked on a piece, the dimensions, if it was a pre-made canvas or if I made it myself, the working title, the finished title, material costs, and the asking price. It is handy for things like answering people when they ask, “How long did that take?” and realizing that even though it was a small, pre-made canvas I hunched over that danged thing on and off for 26 hours and I should ask for a price more in keeping with time spent rather than with the square inches.
But, I think in the process of writing all this out I’ve decided. The only real negative for the production sheet is the time spent maintaining and apparently, keeping track of it. And who knows in 20 years I might use all of them to make my magnum opus.