There is one topic that never seems to get old among us creative types, and that is how difficult it is to do creative work in the first place. Oh yes, you think. Please tell me just how hard this wholly optional activity is. Let's talk about other fellow artists who have spent the day procrastinating and feeling like failures for not working, or throwing out entire days worth of drawings, or hours trying to squeeze out a single sentence that doesn't sound dumb. And the solidarity is easy to find, along with motivational posters encouraging you to struggle through the hard parts, or reassurance that getting stuck does not necessarily mean that your painting is doomed. Then of course, you realize—horrified—that you have just spent forty minutes searching for words of encouragement on the Internet instead of getting anything done, and the cycle of shame repeats itself.*
I've spent the better part of the weekend working for an upcoming show I have in August—details to come soon—which involved the usual mixture of artistic highs and lows. I did, sadly, have to scrap an entire 24x24'' panel because its composition was unsalvageable, but it felt like the right thing to do. As I drew, a Saul Steinberg quote constantly repeated itself in my head, on a loop: “What you respond to in any work of art is the artist's struggle against his or her limitations.” Which seemed to be everywhere.