Being productive when you just can’t

A friend recently mentioned their struggle with writer’s block.  The following anecdote seemed to establish a bit of solidarity, and I hope it helps her out of the doldrums.

On one sad, sad day this summer, deadlines loomed as I was stuck in a city far from my social networks, deprived of my art supplies, and shockingly lacking in books.  (Fumes from a gallery renovation downstairs, etc., and altogether a sad business with no advance notice.  That part of the story is dull, so let’s skip it.)

Well, what’s an artist to do?

I’d just started researching Jennifer Levonian and the stop motion animation that she creates from her watercolors.  I was intrigued when she mentioned in her Pew interview that “the animation style is so wonky, and low tech, and kind of sloppy…”

I didn’t have the materials to do the painting I wanted to do, so what would happen if I let myself make something sloppily?  I had photos of my own watercolors on my laptop.  That was something.

The process ended up being enjoyable, and reminded me that I can artistically function in modes other than the obsessively preplanned.  All I had were a couple of baby photos, so that’s what I used.

Yes, the results are terrible. They have no place in my thesis project. I ought to be embarrassed by them.

I suppose a reasonable subtitle would be something metaphorical about how grad school has sometimes left me feeling like a child. I’m all for the bits that lead to seeing art in entirely new ways. The pressure to say “yes ma’am” and “no sir” is a bit less transcendent.

The most valuable thing I got from this evening of ridiculous stop-motion animation was a reminder not to take myself too seriously.

Incidentally, I grew up watching Monty Python, so this side project reminds me of how much I miss a classical music station that used to exist in St. Louis.  One evening, the DJ thanked a caller for giving him the chance to fulfill a lifelong dream.  “Without further ado, it’s…………….”

Hearing the familiar strains, I began running through the halls of the studio art building for a person with whom to share this beautiful moment of genius.  Tragically, the only person in the building was completely unfamiliar with Flying Circus. Perhaps, as Japanese cinema instructs us, a perfect moment must be transitory and intensely subjective.  This one certainly felt so.

Grad school even changed Monty Python for me.  I hadn’t known that the foot came from this Bronzino painting:

Bronzino_exposure of luxury