A plea to the Muse. And Barbies.


The White House, © Sarah Marie Lacy. 16"x20" oil on canvas, SOLD.

The White House, © Sarah Marie Lacy. 16"x20" oil on canvas, SOLD.

Dearest Muse,

I could do with a little bit of help. Seriously. I am working my little tush off, but I need you to show up today. I promise I’ll be nice.

But every time I try to paint the head on this painting, it just comes out wrong somehow. The neck gets too short or too long. The head is too big or in the wrong place. I can’t get that damned left eye to look even remotely normal.

Last week, it looked like a death mask.

This week, it looks like…well, did you ever accidentally knock the head off of one of your Barbies, and then jam it back on, but it just never looked the same again?

Yeah. Like that. Reattached Barbie Head Syndrome (aka RBHS).

Real nice.

And I am painting like crazy. I am showing up. And god knows, I need this piece to go well. This is my show off piece! This is my “I swear to god I can paint please let me into your program pretty pretty please!” piece.

Which isn’t exactly helping me feel good about Reattached Barbie Head Syndrome.

And I know what you’re going to say – “I don’t perform under pressure. It’s not my fault you’ve decided this is your show off piece. It’s not up to you to decide what piece looks good, and what piece looks bad. That’s up to me.”

Which is fair enough. I know I’m putting a lot of pressure on this painting. Maybe I should work on something else today. Lay off it for a bit. Give it some breathing room. Realize that I’m sending 5 other pieces and that it isn’t the end of the world if this one doesn’t look perfect.

I mean, a little bit of RBHS never really hurt anyone. (Well, except for Barbie. She’s never been overly thrilled about it.)

And this was an ambitious painting. Large, elaborate. And the background is beautiful, if I do say so myself. (Not that you’d notice the background with that RBHS head stuck in the middle of it.)


It’s so easy to get discouraged.

It’s mostly the stress talking. And the fact that I am sending in this application in to be judged – it’s not a situation that makes me very comfortable. I don’t like that someone else has the power to decide whether I’m going to attend this course or not. I’m feeling pretty helpless right now, and that’s not a pleasant feeling.

I don’t do well on helplessness.

So I have to keep reminding myself that I’m not totally helpless. That I am in control of certain things – finishing my paintings, writing the application. That I get to choose in what way I’m going to create – I can choose to stress myself out completely, or I can choose to think only about the things that I have control over. I have choices in how I approach this situation. I don’t have to freak myself out. I can choose to remember my power in the situation.

So I’m going to do that, and work on another painting in the meantime. Maybe I can come back to this one with fresh eyes.

Over to you

How do you remind yourself of your power when you feel helpless and overwhelmed? Do you have any strategies?