The Artist’s Nightmare

July 18, 2018

I have a recurring dream—a nightmare, really—in which I am off on a painting trip in some beauty spot and for, one reason or another, I never get around to actually doing any painting. It’s not hard to interpret, equal parts longing and guilt, but last night’s was a doozy.
I was off on a trip with my friend Ross and I could see a beautiful ocean view in the distance. Ross got out his paints and started to work but I went for a walk down to the shore, found the perfect spot, and went back for my gear. When I got back, someone had set up an easel in my spot. I considered saying something but figured I would just set up next to him. When I turned to the new spot, someone else had set up his easel there too. I looked the other way–also taken. I started walking along the shore but every place I wanted to paint, someone was already there. When I finally found an open location, the view was obstructed. I started walking back towards Ross but suddenly the entire open space was filled with artists Hundreds of artists, all busily at work, while I did nothing. Some of them were drawing nudes. I thought that was odd, then realized that a model was posing on a stand in three different spots, each completely surrounded by artists four or five deep. I couldn’t paint, I couldn’t draw… I woke up in a cold sweat, trembling.
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