Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Also Ran


Dad always said it was the difference of opinion that made horse racing possible. He was full of antidotes designed to inspire. And us kids had to be winners. You play the game to win or you play it not at all. I realized after the 10th Monopoly board was torn up by my father things had to change. My brother screamed it was not his fault. I was a bad loser. I countered that my brother was a hideous winner. He narrated his wins as if he was Howard Cosell. I withdrew from the family competitions unless badgered to play. My brother cheated, my dad was unbeatable, and I wanted to play a game that was not win or lose.

I used to love tennis but for everyone else it was a blood sport. Play with a date and there is no way you can win because if you win you never date again. When a boyfriend on a DC tennis court went ballistic when I returned his serve I walked off the court leaving my racket behind. I retired to crossword puzzles, and solitary creative activities. But it seems that even art is competitive. And there is enough competition drilled into my soul that I compete. I win prizes but not sales evidently. I resent being compared to other artists. It is like apples and oranges, but others will always keep score. And they will tell you what the score is. I am sick and tired of that. I am about to walk off the court again.

I paint not to sell though it is nice to sell; it buys materials and opens up space on the walls. But I paint what I am moved to paint. I paint in the colors I like to paint in and that express what I want to come out in the painting. I hate decorative art. I could never do 1000 daisies or 200 churches. I redo a subject because I don't feel I have it right yet. I do not think of my competition when I paint. It is all about the conversation between me and my muse.

Can I still have that conversation and not compete? Can you run the race when you get continually splattered with mud from the hooves of the retreating field?

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