Last night, I was finishing a commission. Literally finishing–final touches on the wing feathers (it’s a pegasus for my local UPS store) and I was gonna be done. I’ve been fooling with it off and on for most of the holidays, so there was a lot of work went into it, much of it slog work.

And Painter generated an error that in years of using Painter I’ve never seen before–“Tile: Out of Tiles”–and died. And took the file down with it.

I had no intermediate saves, because, yes, I am a dumbass. But in my defense, Painter has been solid as a rock for me for years. Photoshop crashes more often. I once did a six foot tall, eight foot long dog grooming van painting in Painter, and although it ground along molasses above the Arctic Circle, it was stable. This does not excuse my dumbassery, but hopefully it makes it a bit more comprehensible.

James spent several hours attempting to wrest the file from the bowels of the beast, but could not.

I roll up my sleeves, sat down, and recreated in an hour and a half–at 1 AM–the majority of the painting that I had noodled on for a week. I wasn’t mad. I wasn’t upset. Well, I was, but once I sat down, I wasn’t much of anything except “MUST PAINT NOW GRRRAAAHH!” Eventually James wrestled me away from the machine once I had finished about two thirds of the painting–the wings actually came out better this time, despite the tendency of the mind to cast lost art up there with Da Vinci. “You’ve been close to burnout all week,” he said, very reasonably, “you aren’t going to do yourself any favors by staying up all night working on something you don’t want to be working on anyway.”

And he was right. And today, once I finish that blasted pegasus–AGAIN–I’m not going to work on anything deathless. If I paint at all, today and maybe for the rest of the week, I’m going to take the advice of my friend Kathy, who said “Try painting the most noxiously cute things you can. Do a whole cute run, and you’ll want to go back to the grim stuff just to escape the cute.” This was excellent advice, and I may try it.

I hate–not the fact of burnout, per se, but the idea. I’m sure I’ve said this before. It’s so…froofy. As if I’m one of those artists who must stride battlements, dressed in black (or possibly something white and diaphanous, although I think I have a better chance of keeping the black clean), chatting with a human skull hand puppet, pausing occasionally to clasp back of hand to forehead and declaim “O woe! The Muse, she speaks not!” sob dramatically, and then stride off again.

I know all the homilies, I know that I’m insanely lucky to get the steady rampage of creativity that I do, and I shouldn’t begrudge the muse the occasional day when she’s been overworked too hard and just wants to lie around and soak in the tub, possibly with neat smelling bath salts (not something I particularly want to do, myself, mind you, but perhaps muses have access to a better brand of bath salts.) But it still just…irks me.

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