Ends

Cloud of potential lost in fog of sleep deprivation

It's been two onerous months of feed baby/kids then paint, change diapers then paint, no sleep then paint, want to collapse but still need to clean the house and try to sew curtains on a whim...then paint. It's only after hitting the deadline that I understood that setting a goal of three medium-to-large sized paintings completed in two months while taking care of a newborn was a tad unrealistic.

I've been working under an inky cloud of continuous sleep deprivation. At first I considered this a test of mental and emotional strength, something to overcome and shunt aside so that I could get on with painting. Then I read a few science news articles reporting on the cumulative effects of sleep deprivation (except those lucky "short-sleeper" b*stards!) as well as the suspected impact toxoplasmosis may have on human reaction times and behavior (I'm just 19 cats short of being a crazy cat person, if my husband would let me). So the $100,000 question has to be: by how much has my artistic ability been impaired recently? Should I be worried? Did I miss a "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon" moment because I might have had a micro-sleep incident or two?

How well I can compose a painting when composing a sentence at the dinner table is a challenge (I've given up mid-sentence on several occasions). As I've mentioned before I like to listen to NPR programming while I work in the studio. Radiolab's most recent (fantastic as always) podcast, Desperately Seeking Symmetry, made me wonder about the 'aha!' moment in artistic composition, similar to the 'clicking' moment discussed in Lauren Silbert's research. If sleep deprivation is robbing me of the ability to be coherent in language, which is a verbal creative process, how much of the visual creative process is impeded too? Does anyone have research on this? Jad and Robert, help!

Another Radiolab episode I have to mention is Sleep. What better radio could one listen to when one is not able to get any, sleep that is. I wish I could sleep with one half of my brain and take care of midnight feeds with the other half awake, like a duck. Maybe then I'd have at least half my brain function at optimal performance. You know another interesting fact about ducks...learn more during the Radiolab episode Sperm. You'll thank me.

Finished Portrait: Kalervo

portrait of Kalervo

The final sitting was on Sunday. I put my brushes down after a couple of hours in conversation and observation, and invited Kalervo to inspect the portrait. He looked like he had to steel himself before walking around the side of the easel. He took a minute to take it all in, and then commented on the fact that he had a bit of a stern look. We discussed this for a while, my mother and husband included (the baby just grinned, he didn't throw in his normal commentary on my work "Babababa! Rrrrrrrrrrr!"). Rather than be concerned about the stern look, Kalervo was satisfied that I had captured the expression other people usually associate with his character.