Someone is looking intently at an artwork, turns to the artist and innocently asks: "How long did it take you to do that?". Ugh.
It makes an artist cringe. Some artists, feeling defensive, reply with a flippant "My whole life!" To an artist, the question insinuates perceived worth. I used to patiently consider the question an ice breaker, a safe way for the viewer to engage in conversation because they are not sure how to approach otherwise. Now I'm suspect.
Time, labor, materials, size. It's frustrating to deal with so much attention to physicality. I don't mind discussing technique. It's the reference to time = $$$ that increasingly annoys. If I say a canvas took me half a day because the painting session was immersed in a zen-like creativity, the reaction is...polite respect. However, numeration involving pained hours and hours (even months) spent on a piece concurs head-nodding monetary merit. Calculating value by the hours expended in a creation of art is not an indication of what it should cost.
"My whole life" really is. Accrued skill takes a lifetime of patience and persistence. It parallels general life experience and evolves into a total package as the artist becomes the art and the art IS the artist.
"The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run." - Henry David Thoreau