Thursday, January 24, 2008

Life's distractions

Sometimes I consider myself a prolific artist. I am able to sit with my computer, unobstructed with outside distractions and just create. There might be an image that I can’t get out of my mind that somehow just flow effortlessly from Ultra Fractal, the software program I use to do my fractal art. Other times, which are increasingly, becoming more the norm than I’d like, I can’t seem to concentrate long enough to finish a piece.

Granted it, most of my current work involves dozens if not more individual layers that make up the final image and that just takes time to do. I’ll sometimes work hours on a single layer of a fractal because it is crucial to the over all theme of the design. Times that by 25 and you start to see how long it can actually take to create a piece.

That said life is starting to interfere with my art. Doing digital art on a computer is often an envious position I hold with my fellow artists, the more traditional ones painting with acrylics or molding hunks of clay. Their art is created using various “tools” of their trade, be them, easels, paint brushes, welding torches or potters wheels. Mine is a MacBook Pro laptop that opens to reveal my studio wherever I am. At home, on a plane, a bench in a park or during slow sales times at an art festival I’m at for the weekend. My art studio sits on my lap or my desk.

Of course there are other devices I employee to finish my art. I use various printers with the workhorse being a 2 ½ year old Epson Stylus Pro 4000. This printer produces 95% of the prints I sell. Over the years, I’ve used many different printers. HP, Canon and other models of Epson’s but hands down, this it the best printer a digital artist can own. I’m considering upgrading to a wider format Epson, but I’ll hold off talking about that until a later post.

Back to my dilemma, I have too many distractions lately. Why do I need to have a browser window open on my computer? Do I really need to google that idea that popped into my head right now? Wikipedia is wonderful, I can’t remember what I did without it. Yes I can, I got up from my desk and walked to the bookshelf and pulled out the encyclopedia and hunted for the answer to my question. But do I have to go off on a tangent at that very moment; do I need the answer that bad? Of course not, it can wait, but the convenience a computer hooked up to the Internet through a WiFi connection makes this distraction from my art easy, which is addictive.

Do I need MailPlane reminding me that an e-mail has just came through from someone wanting my valuable attention more that I need to create art? I think not, but it is convenient, for the sender anyway. Are three different e-mail accounts that all need hourly feeding essential?

Hopefully you can see where I’m going with all of this. Life is one big distraction for an artist, especially for a “wired” digital artist. Am I ready to pull the plug? Not today, but I have come up with what I think is a workable game plan to curb the distractions. Like a diet, I hope I can stick to it. My MacBook Pro’s battery last about 2 hours, give or take a few minutes either way. In the morning, over coffee, I plan to do any of my Net essential chores while my battery power lasts. E-mail correspondence, web surfing, and reading blogs through the various RSS feeds I subscribe to, etc. Net stuff. Once I get the “low battery” warning me to plug in, I cut the wires to the Internet. Figuratively speaking of course. After that, I’m a distraction free artist.

Impossible? Maybe. But it’s worth a try. Of course my favorite music streaming through iTunes in the background is OK. And I could write a little widget that pops up every few hours reminding me to take a minute and see what earth stopping e-mail requests I have in my in box. And oh ya, there are the podcasts that feed my curious mind and that image file that has to be ftp’d to the publisher and ooo… what happens if someone posts a photo on my Flickr page that I need to see right now or what about Twitter, my FaceBook wall, MySpace? Let’s not forget my blog.

I’m doomed, just pass me the ADD meds.


Ruben Bakker said...

Very good point - sometimes less is much more. As you mentioned Mailplane as one source of distraction, here is a new Mailplane feature that may actually help: There is a brand new "Do not disturb" mode, released yesterday. It turns off Growl, sound notifications and the unread message counters that are the main source of distraction.

More information can be found here.


Dennis Brady said...

Thanks Ruben, I'm on it, now. I just referred to Mailplane because it's become my favorite Gmail app. I love it and refer it to everyone I know that has a Gmail account.