Thursday, July 28, 2011

Is There A Cure?




A sad anniversary: today marks the second year of when I was diagnosed with the horrible disease of Hypochondria.  I didn't realize the symptoms at first, but as each day went by, I found myself getting worse and worse.  Apparently, it's a genetic disease that's the result of ignorance and an over-active imagination.  Who knew?  Right now, there's no cure, but I am in a support group of fellow sufferers.  They all say I have it bad, but that they have it worse.  So, I'm resigned to a fate of having every sniffle be the start of the Bubonic Plague, and every ache and pain be the onset of some bizarre disease that even T.V. doctors couldn't fathom.  I can deal with all that, though; my problem is when it affects my painting.


It's all well and good to view your work with a jaundiced eye (Jaundice? Jaundice?  Is that my problem?  I knew my colors were a little off lately...) but when all you see in your painting is the bad--then you might have a problem.  Painters Hypochondria can really be debilitating if it keeps you from putting your work out there.  If all you can see in your paintings are the weak spots, the wish it could be betters, the my gosh what was I thinking? - then you'll never have the confidence to promote your work.  By all means, if you see a flaw that you can fix, then fix it.  But after awhile, you just have to say, "this is the best I can do."  Just remember to do better with the next painting.


Oh, sure, we've all run into painters so self assured that they come off as Michelangelo, when in reality their work is closer to Mike Angelo-- the guy that works on my car.  But I'm betting more of us falls into the other camp.  The camp that says we are not worthy.  The camp that says we'll never be as good as we need to be.  The camp that says, "look at all the great artists out there!"  (Except my eyesight's been a little poor recently...)  But what yardstick are you using to judge your work?


Look, all things are relative, right?  I can finish a painting and be bummed that it doesn't have the sparkle and painterly skill of my hero, Norman Rockwell.  But hey, not a whole lot of artists can say they are as good as Norman, so I'm in company with the vast majority.  Does that mean I can't make a good painting?  No.  It means I'm no Norman Rockwell.  Maybe I'm being too hard on myself.  Maybe I shouldn't hamstring myself (and my hamstring has been sore lately, come to think of it) by comparing myself to the Masters.  Of course I'm going to pale in comparison!  I may be waiting for a very long time if I put off promoting my work until I'm that good.  And if I feel everything I do is flawed, I never will.


Yeah, I know what you're thinking, so if you don't hold your work against the high standards of the great painters, then you won't look so bad.  Come to think of it, compared to Ms Foontin's third grade art class, your work is awesome!  No, that's not what I'm saying; I may not think I'm at a Master level, but that doesn't keep me from entering juried shows, or submitting new work to my galleries or even Fine Art Views on line.  In other words, I judge my work against my peers, the mid-level guys like me.  Of course I still look at the truly great painters for inspiration.  And it also doesn't mean that I'm not trying to get better with every painting I make.  But if a contemporary blows me away, then I'm not their peer, am I?  No matter how bad I have it, my Painters Hypochondria hasn't got the best of me yet!  (Some other nasty disease probably will, though...)


I don't know about you, but all this talk of sickness has given me a nasty, inoperable brain tumor...



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9 comments:

Susan Roux said...

Sounds like you need a vacation on Cape Cod.

Patty Meglio said...

Kevin,

I think that we all ponder the same questions from time to time. The important thing is that you keep at it, no matter what. I try to go to museums or open an art book to get inspiration when I start to doubt myself. I also tell myself that most of the best painters just practiced their art constantly, and worked hard at it. It was not an overnight type of process.

Patty Meglio said...

I think that we all ponder the same questions from time to time. When I start to doubt myself, I try to go to a museum or open an art book for inspiration. I also take heart that the best artists worked long hours and many years at their craft before they became successful. It's not an overnight process. So don't sweat it, just don't give up.

Debora L. Stewart said...

I enjoyed your post and laughed. I too am a hypochondriac - I think that is how you spell it. And this is why I have always loved the younger Woody Allen. Why I sobbed so hard during Love Story that I got hysterical and then wondered if when I finally found love I would die of some horrible disease. Probably a brain tumor as I always thought I had one of those but am sure it was/is ADHD. Great post!

SamArtDog said...

I know your post should make me feel like I'm not the only incurable one. But it doesn't. It just convinces me that mine is not the only brain tumor.

Azra said...

Thanks for giving me a laugh,its a cure for many ills.As for self doubt its an illness that all artists are afflicted with from time to time.The only answer is don't ever stop painting(I think I need to take my own advice) : )

tracywall said...

You know the moment you get the tumor removed, you'll be infected with something from the surgical transfusions. If it weren't for bad luck, you'd have no luck at all.

Self-doubt is a bitch, so might as well play victim from West Nile, and remove all potential for responsibility. :) I speak from experience being the queen of zero-confidence at times.

After many years of trying to solve by curling up in front of TV w/ a gin & tonic, family-size bag of Doritos, or Oreos, I found myself full and filled, but unfulfilled.

I've found my antidote sometimes lies in timed, loose gesture paintings that I know I'll be throwing away. Funny how I deem a scant few tolerable and usually keep 1 or 2 out of the 20.

Good luck with the tumor. You know, sometimes the Doritos did help...

Kevin Mizner said...

Thanks for all your coments! I would have written something sooner, but I have a hang-nail (it'll probably get infected...)

Virginia Floyd said...

I knew I had it, but I didn't know it has a name..."painter's hypochondria". Thanks, Kevin! You described by symptoms perfectly!