Monday night while I was painting I heard a knock on my studio door. The visitor was a painter friend of mine. He handed me a box full of week-old Easter candy. "Enjoy," he said.
"Thanks for the 25,000 calories," I said as I peered into the box.
"What are you working on?" he asked.
"A painting I was having trouble with but finally figured out," I said. "Go ahead and take a look."
He walked over and stood in front of the painting. His smile froze.
"What do you think?" I said.
The painter said nothing as he turned to look at me with panic-glazed eyes.
"Uh oh," I said. "Is it that bad?"
"It's not bad," he said. "It's just not one of your best paintings."
"I like it," I said. "It's a good little painting."
"I agree. It's a nice painting," he said. "But it's a foot soldier."
"A foot soldier?"
"It's not a five-star general," he said. "The five star-general paintings end up on postcards and in museum shows. "
"In other words, the painting is second rate," I said.
"A Nancy Robinson painting is never second rate," he said. "It's just not one of your best."
"Now I'm depressed," I said. "I've been struggling with this thing for days and it was clearly a waste of time."
"No it wasn't. It's very nicely painted," he said. "Someone will probably buy it."
"You're not making me feel any better," I said.
"You need the foot soldiers," he said. "Imagine going into battle with only five-star generals."
"I see your point," I said.