Thursday, May 14, 2009

Multitasking

Howard Pyle provides probably the ultimate example of multitasking while painting.


One of his students, Thornton Oakley, recalls:

On the stairway landing I found my teacher at his easel, working on a canvas for his series “Travels of the Soul,” his young children cavorting about his knees, a model posed nearby in costume to give him some detail of texture, Mrs. Pyle sitting beside him reading aloud proofs from King Arthur for his correction, he making comments for his notation.”


That kind of brainpower is a remarkable achievement, way beyond me, that’s for sure. But I find that while my mind is engaged in painting, there are chunks of grey matter sitting around idle. Engaging those areas with non-visual tasks makes me paint more intuitively, which helps.

You all offered some great comments on an earlier post about listening to music or books on tape. When it comes to enjoying the company of young children or pets, I’m in agreement with Pyle. When my kids were young, there was always a lot of commotion going on in the studio, and it strangely helped my concentration.

13 comments:

jeff jordan said...

I remember reading the same thing about Rubens. Musicians playing, or people reading to him, models and assistants swirling around. Various minor government officials bringing him papers to sign and so on. The Flemish version of CIA agents meeting to exchange information. What a busy life.
I think all that would be very distracting, probably counter productive in my case. But I always have the stereo on in my Ivory Tower.
Seems like there were rumors of Rubens using Adrian Brouwer as a snitch/mole. I'd love to read more about that...........

Steve said...

We have a DVD featuring a Canadian landscape oils painter we like, Cory Trepanier. He does much of his work on location, but he also works in a home studio. There are a few moments in the DVD in which one of his young children -- I think his preschool age daughter-- is painting next to daddy, working on her own painting. At one point, she walks over and adds some dabs of paint to his commissioned piece. Trepanier takes it in stride and blends her marks in!

=shane white= said...

If you're suggesting having children will make me a better artist...then..uh...I may need to look into this.

What am I saying? :|

=s=

Jesse said...

When my daughter was a baby, I'd have her sit on my lap while I painted at my desk. You'd think that wouldn't work, but she'd sit still, quiet and happy.

Mary Bullock said...

Children constantly interrupting while you are painting helps to prepare you for painting in public!

caynazzo said...

I'm a freelance writer and auditory distractions are helpful so long it's white-noise (e.g., semis downshifting on the highway or instrumental music...makes no difference).

Angela said...

Considering that my options for places to paint usually include:
1) Work (I often work overnights and can sometimes get away with it)
2)My kitchen table (in my family of five's 900sq ft home)
or
3)The car (where I actually probably dothe majority of my work) while I wait for kids to get out of rehearsals/practices/etc or am stuck in town between said things

And the fact that I'm Mom to a 14, 10 and 1 year old - I don't know that multi-tasking makes me any more creative, but, well, if I couldn't do it I'd just have to give up art!

(women have always had to do this - you guys are just realizing that it's amazing now?)

Sieglitz decided it would be impossible - therefore no kids for Georgia O'keefe. He was wrong, but I do think she probably was able to get a lot more done than I ever will!

I love the idea that it may make you more creative - will have to meditate on that awhile (maybe next time I'm running from baseball practice to danceline!)

Angela said...

I'm trying to imagine George Thomas (the baby) quietly playing on my knee while I paint...
definitely getting a great ab workout from all the laughing it's inducing!

Hope you realize how lucky you were Jesse! = )

jeff jordan said...

I've been thinking about it all morning. The photo of HP reminds me of a Travis Louie painting.

Brine Blank said...

I usually have a radio or Tv on but it 'fades' out as I get a bit lost in the work...on a reverse bit...in meetings or the occasional class where I am a student I find myself continually doodling and drawing...it always tends to drive my non-art bosses crazy because they think I'm not paying attention or seriously considering what is being said...but it helps me to stay focused, problem solve, and be productive...it is when I'm not doodling that I find my mind shuts off and I'm completely worthless...although my friends would argue that is my constant state...

Dave H said...

A third of my basement studio is my wife's sewing area. I have an extra drawing board for my son when he's home from college, too. I like the company. But most of the time I'm alone with the stereo.

Mark vander Vinne said...

I have 3 children, all girls ranging from 15 to 10 years old, and I kick them out of the studio when I'm trying to paint. I simply can't seem to concentrate enough when they are there. In the later stages of the painting I don't mind as much, but in the beginning, when I'm still trying to figure it all out, I have to be alone.

Lauren said...

It is also good for the kids. They grow up thinking anyone can draw and paint.

My 3 kids are all under 5 years old. We have family drawing time which rivals our library time.

Also, I am no longer buying them the crayola paints and am now teaching my kids to use my watercolors and acrylics. I got tired of seeing their sketches fade and turn colors or disappear all together.