1. Have a dedicated workspace, or if you can't have a dedicated workspace, at least keep your supplies organized so you can grab what you need quickly. I admit, I'm terrible at this.
2. Keep a loose wrist, accept when doing fine detail. I've talked about this a lot recently. When your wrist is loose, you can make fluid strokes in a matter of seconds. This also results in a higher quality painting because you don't end up with those stop and start makes that you would get if you were painting with a tight wrist. So, win, win.
3. Trace your subject
4. Use gridded paper. I don't recommend trying to draw your own grid. I tried that and it did not work out.
I learned about this trick from my friend Shana Rowe Jackson. You can check out her youtube videos here.
5. Work distraction free. This won't necessarily cut down on the amount of hours a piece will take, but it will help you get those hours in in less time. I also think painting and drawing becomes a more enjoyable experience when you do it without distractions like your phone.
I understand if you're reference photo is on your phone. Mine is. Just turn on silent/do not disturb, and consider blocking social media apps or deleting/offloading those from your phone during the time you want to focus.
6. Use a blow dryer to dry wet paint so you can go on top of it right away.
7. Paint wet-into-wet. Bob Ross famously painted in this style and he finished an entire landscape in the time it took to do a half-hour television episode. Painting can go by a lot faster if you're not waiting for your layers to dry. Apparently, Mr.Ross never spent more than two hours on a painting.
8. Work on smaller surfaces. If you really want to get something done quickly, don't go bigger than a 9x12. I've seen canvases and boards that are as small as 4x6.
These are all ways to be more efficient with your time as an artist and I recommend the first two for everyone, regardless of your style or medium. But, understand that making a quality piece, particularly in realism, requires you to put a certain amount of time in. I don't necessarily recommend prioritizing getting a painting done as quickly as possible.
I want to bring your attention back to this eye.
I probably spent as much time on this eye as have doing some entire faces and it's because of the time I spent, that I got the results I got, which I'm very proud of.
Painter of portraits and wildlife