About the time Jackson Pollock was breaking the ice by dripping and dribbling skeins of house paint over cotton duck tarpaulins on the floor of some barn on Long Island, millions of suburbanites could produce their very own masterpieces in minutes thanks to the miracle of step-by-step instruction. The Craft Master paint kit box tops proclaimed, “A BEAUTIFUL OIL PAINTING THE FIRST TIME YOU TRY.” Craft Master popularized paint-by-numbers in the early 50s.
Per the Paint By Number Museum: “Who is the most exhibited artist in the world? The work of paint by number designer Dan Robbins has been displayed on more walls than that of any other artist. This was true in the past, is still true today and is most likely a record that will stand in the future.”
As the New York Times notes: “In appealing to adults, they are marketed as ways to relax and shut down the brain.”
A few years earlier, Jon Gnagy broke a different sort of ice by going on TV and convincing viewers that that they were the artist. Every week he showed them how. He flamed out after a while, but others picked up his set of magic brushes and added their own accessories to make untold fortunes. All guys like Carey and Orso do is follow a well-trod path. Everyone who’s ever gotten into the art racket has quickly come up against the sobering fact that laboring away in some dingy garret for decades in the hopes of being discovered is a dream left only for the most romantic of fools.
Every new media innovation has pushed painting further and further up into the dusty attic. The only way to cut through the noise is to find the newest loudest megaphone and screech away as long as your lungs hold out.
Every man a Rembrandt, the ad copy promises and why would it lie?