How long did it take you to make that?
(Mike Allen)

This week, I had the overwhelming urge to post this picture I found of Jim Carey and Nicholas Cage enjoying art. I can’t imagine what circumstances brought this situation about, but I thought it might be a good segue into addressing a couple of things I hear quite often as an artist.

“How long did it take you to make that?” is a question I get a lot. When I was younger, I never thought much about time as a measure of good work. Recently, however, I’ve begun to understand how a work’s quality is quantified this way outside of the art world, so it only makes sense that the question of “how long” would come up first in people’s minds. It’s not a bad question necessarily, but art tends to follow different rules so that it may not apply.

One of my favorite pieces of art ever is “1000 Hours of Staring” by Tom Friedman. It is a simple work: He stared at a blank piece of paper for 1,000 hours over the course of five years. Yes, he put 1,000 hours of his time into it. The MoMA website even lists the medium as “Stare on Paper.” Would you call it a great work of art? I do, because it gives the viewer a different idea about time and quality, and it creates conversations about the strange partnership conventional thinking and abstract thinking have in the art world.

Friedman’s work brings me to another common comment from art viewers: “I could do that.” This is a funny thing to hear. I’m very certain that most people are physically capable of making the “Mona Lisa” as well as any Rothko piece. (And I think you should!)

The humorous part is, I only ever hear this in reference to the Rothkos and never the Da Vincis. Both styles require thought and technique, of course, but the emphasis on one of those things differs from artist to artist. I could go on and on about that, but the important thing to note is that, yes, you could do it, but they did do it, and they want you to enjoy it.

— Mike Allen

(Editor’s Note: NonDoc provides Sundaze as a weekly space for poetry, short prose, visual art and other ideas pitched by creatives in Oklahoma and around the world. All submissions are encouraged, and new creatives are sought. Submit your work for publication by contacting

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