The artist was a bright man, but not altogether in his mind.
He loved the work of Van Gogh, and worked hard to emulate it. But he didn’t want to just copy; he wanted to add his own take. To do something new something original. Like Van Gogh would have done.
When the artist had exhausted all other means of creating, he turned to the only Van Gogh-inspired possibility left to him.
Reaching up, holding with one hand and cutting with the other, the artist removed an ear, then began to paint with the blood.
The result had a horrifying beauty to it. He managed one full painting before he decided he needed to rush to the hospital – he had, of course, put the removed ear on ice – and try to get it reattached.
After a short recovery, he did it again, making a new painting. He did three more over the passing months, until the doctors told him he needed to stop or they’d never get the ear to stay.
So the artist held a show, and his painting sold for tens of thousands of dollars each, and he had a home for another few years. More than that, he had his other ear to start creating with.