Bought the latest Spectrum Annual. Went though it. It’s an exercise in mental twitchery…”Eh. Eh. Nice. Eh. HOLY CRAP, I COULD NEVER DO THAT IN TEN MILLION YEARS. Eh. Eh. WHAT? This crap gets in, and they rejected “Bad Egg”!?! Eh. Eh. HOLY CRAP…” etc, etc, rinse, repeat. In other words, the usual. There’s some lovely work in there. I can only hope to live long enough to do that sort of thing. There’s some crap I’d throw on the fire to keep warm on a 90 degree day in July. Lotta Phil Hale clones these days, few of them equal to the master. Fewer Rick Berry clones. Style comes, style goes. But I suppose that’s how it always is.

I try not to do the “This got in, and mine didn’t?!” dance because it’s bad. God, I know it’s bad. I’ve been a reviewer at Yerf, I know how it is. I know that as the artist, I am occasionally blind to my flaws. (And I have plenty ‘o flaws. I have flaws like bunnies have…um…other, smaller bunnies. And occasionally I get nervous and eat them. I don’t know what that means, but the metaphor was goin’…) And it only makes me sound bitter. And I shouldn’t be. I have no right to be. Nobody promised me art was a walk in the park. If being a painter meant instant homage from the world, everybody’d be doin’ it and we couldn’t move for canvases. And I should take it as a challenge and strive to meet a higher standard, strive, strive, blah blah blah, homily homily strive. Work harder, slacker! And self-worth comes from within blah blah homily validation. And I’m not as good as I think I am anyway, blah blah can you fit that ego through the door or do we need the jaws of life? blah. And so forth. And so on. Blah.

A year or two ago, someone who was in a position to know told me that there was rampant nepotism in the Spectrum judging–it’s supposed to have improved, but for awhile (namely, most of the time I’d been applying) it was evidentally pretty bad. I was horrified. I was horrified because if there is anything I hate like a bastard, it’s the whiny “They’re out to get meeeeee, it’s not faaaaairrrr…” complaint, and so I had been fighting it off like the grim specter of death, because I would far rather believe that I am not half the artist I’d like to be than slide into that. And there was also the issue of practicality–after all, my art can improve! If I’m not good enough, I can get better! But if it really wasn’t fair, and I had no hope unless I knew the judges, then I was frickin’ boned.

But it’s supposed to be better now. And what I am doing is wallowing. It has all the earmarks of a good wallow.

But I still wallow. I think I do this for the same reason that some monastic orders flagellate themselves with rawhide whips. It either gets me closer to God, or it feels really good when I stop, or I believe it will make me a better artist in the long run, or I’ve been doing it so long that it’s habit, or possibly I believe that if I get enough lashes, I’ll win a free toaster. It’s mortification of the muse. Looking at really good art can do that anyway, probably to most of us artspawn–that sort of wincing combination of awe “Damn! That’s amazing!” and bile “Shit. I’m never gonna be able to do that…” and if we’re lucky, also creates that peculiarly savage inspiration that is both exhilirating and puts a lot of stress on the stomach lining.

Or possibly it’s just me, and I have now admitted to being a Very Bad Person With An Ego The Size Of Texas in public. *grin* Oh, well. Tomorrow, of course, my natural ebulliance will surface and I will get back to painting with my usual distracted cheer. Tomorrow, I’ll probably grit my teeth and take it as a challenge and do all the things I’m supposed to do. And the Muse will pour Bactine across her latest set of flagellation marks and get back to work, too. (Which is an entirely too angsty metaphor, particularly from someone who whines like an injured beagle if she gets a paper cut, but it’s what I’ve got.) But tonight, I get one good wallow in artistic self-pity before it’s back to work.

Leave a Reply