artistic ability

Outsource Myself

A guy from India has emailed me offers to outsource my painting practice. I read about the journalist A.J. Jacobs outsourcing his life, but I didn't think someone would try to sell me the concept in regards to my profession. How am I supposed to interpret that offer? Am I supposed to be flattered or insulted that someone asserts that he can make reproductions or "original paintings" from images of my work? I never have any clue ahead of time what any of my completed works will look like, beyond a general compositional layout. Am I so predictable already, only 10 years into my career? I do admit that I have massive sleep deprivation and time constraints working against me in the studio, and I have probably whinged about it too much on this blog. But to outsource the process to India is outsourcing all creativity and identity of myself as an artist - might as well tear up my artistic license and sit in a hole.

Apprentices, assistants, and artisans have been working with or for artists throughout the centuries to create huge bodies of work (read both as huge work and/or huge quantity). It's debatable how beneficial this system is for the artist and his or her quality of work overall, but it's definitely tripped up art historians, self-claimed experts and those people who find "something interesting" in grandma's attic. It's why we watch Antiques Roadshow, right?. Hopes are more often than not shot down: it was the overworked apprentices who actually crafted the work and the master may have (a Snowball's chance in a CAT-scanner) just did that fiddle-y bit on the helmet.

More recently concept artists (not to be confused with conceptual artists) like Damien Hirst have taken the assistant/apprentice/artisan (does anyone really take on apprentices anymore, besides reality tv series?) art mechanism to the methamphetamine lab level: stew too much at once in the tub and it could blow up in your face, but the supply never seems to slake the (perceived) demand. If I had wanted to be some sort of art theorist that illustrates concepts with throw-away insta-art or orange buckets in a white room and a five thousand word thesis then I would be hanging out with the 'time and space' graduates from the Art Academy in Helsinki. As I'm not, I'm here inefficiently smearing paint in a tedious manner on canvas.

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.