Suddenly, and without much reason, feeling depressed. I don’t often fall into oh-god-I’m-a-hack mode, but when it hits, it happens all at once, and usually fairly hard. It comes from comparing my art to the standard I’d like to be at, which is a lot higher and held by the top pros in the industry. That this standard is generally attained by people who have been in the industry over twice as long as I have (in some cases, rather longer than I’ve been alive) does not seem to mitigate it all that much.

My great fear, which generally is locked under a dozen deadbolts and shoved firmly in the back corner of the mental closet, is that I am going to spend an unrecognized career as a mediocre artist and then die, having left a legacy that interests nobody in particular. Every now and then this fear manages to throw the locks and go rampaging about until my natural ebullience grabs the thing and shoves it back in the box.

The solution would be to do a really good painting, but if I could reliably hammer one of those out on demand, the issue wouldn’t arise in the first place. And because I’m depressed and a little upset, I am about as capable of doing a good painting as I am of flight–the least frustration on a piece causes me to abandon it completely in despair, and since art is essentially one big sequential frustration, it doesn’t go well. I draw thumbnails, I curse. I try to think of the One Great Composition. I decide that my style (what the hell IS my style, anyway?) is just uninspired space filling, tedious to all who view it, and then I chew on the pillows for awhile, taking the name of the Muses in vain in stuffing-muffled irritation.

This time, however, I’m going to be smart. I know exactly what’s happening, I am an old hand at it, and so I’m going to take a nap and attempt to short circuit the damn thing completely. And maybe when I wake up, the aforementioned natural ebulliance will have beaten the shit out of this sense of runaway inadequacy, and I can return to normal function. And do a good painting. Or not paint at all, if that’s what needs to happen today.

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