At first I told him "No way! It just took a couple of hours!" but then I realized that before those couple of hours were a couple of weeks of frustrating run-up time full of discarded pieces.
This conversation made me think about how opaque the artistic process can be (even to myself!), and I decided to start sharing more of my step-by-step painting process, warts and all.
THE IDEA & SKETCHES
 DECEMBER 2013 - While hiking in Ecuador over winter break, I took a photograph of the volcano Cotopaxi shrouded in clouds. I loved the abstract nature of the image and decided to base a painting on it.
 JANUARY 6 - Using the photograph as a guide, I did some pencil sketches, ambitiously planning a series of four related paintings.
[3 & 4] JANUARY 7 - On pieces of canvas pad (great option for getting some cheap, gessoed canvas to try out painting!) I tested out paint colors and techniques. As you can see from 4, I tried a thickly painted palette knife technique, but settled on a flatter brush-stroke option.
THE UGLY INTERMEDIATE STAGES (blech!)
 JANUARY 13 - I "finished" the piece (ha!) with more detail in black and white and incorporating color. Stepping back (always the crucial test for a painting), I felt very meh about the painting...verging on a yuck.
 MID-FEBRUARY - I took a good month off from this guy and worked on a whole other bunch of pieces (most are up on my Etsy shop). When I came back, I painted over the piece in black and white simultaneously, producing a great "ugly mess" effect.
 MID-FEBRUARY - I decided the problem was the high contrast between black and white. In a sudden burst of energy, I painted over the black areas in thick gray paint.
GETTING TO THE FINAL PIECE
my Etsy shop.
Hopefully I can continue documenting my art process. I really enjoyed doing it and being able to look back on each stage. Do any of you have a good system for documenting your work process? How do you do it?
P.S. For those of you working on a larger scale, how do you get high-quality (but not prohibitively expensive) scans or photographs of your finished pieces? I'd love to make prints or iPhone cases available of this piece, but don't have a good enough image to use at the moment. Would really appreciate any tips!