Many of us paint away for long hours with the radio playing in the background. How can we concentrate amid the news of war, disaster, and tragedy? How should we respond? Keep working or drop everything?
There are two famous stories of creative people working despite the tragedies happening on their very doorsteps.
The Greek mathematician Archimedes (above by Domenico Fetti) was grappling with a geometrical problem when the Roman soldiers broke down his door during the siege of Syracuse. According to legend, the last words that he uttered before he was killed was "Do not disturb my circles," It may just be apocryphal, but it's a good story.
The composer Sergey Rachmaninov was working on one of his piano concertos during the crisis of World War 1. He said “I became so engrossed with my work that I did not notice what was going on around me….I sat at a writing table or the piano all day without troubling about the rattle of machine guns and rifle shots.” On Christmas eve, 1917, he crossed the Finnish border and left forever the country of his birth.
Lawrence Roibal’s response to the Haiti earthquake, drawing on the newpaper itself.