Rilke’s Poem Entering
Making a World, 36 x 48 in, oil on canvas
Lately I’ve found the experience of creating a study–a small scale work–prior to the large piece quite liberating. Without the intimidation and fear inherent in a large scale work, these small pieces afford the freedom and looseness and experimentation I was seeking to break the stagnation of my studio experience. My mantra has always been to notice what I notice–to dig deep when something catches my attention or causes me to pause. Similarly, when I became “unenergized” by what I found myself doing on the canvas–making safe paintings that are successful time and again–I knew it was time to pay attention and get back to pushing myself.
The abstracted nature of these paintings are thrilling me. The nuances, the happy accidents, the layers, the mystery and most of all the process. I’m engaged, I’m lost, I’m dancing back and forth from the canvas, I’m creating a world. My worries seem unfounded that the translation from small to large would falter in the change of surface or that I would lose interest in the painting the second time around. The large works are so much more physical and demanding, but with the composition and palette loosely determined from the study, I can engage with them at the same level as I did with the smaller works. Of course there are particulars of the studies that cannot be replicated, where something unique to the medium and paint occurred. And I can appreciate that and let it go.
Again, it is important to recognize the profundity of Rilke’s words to what’s happening to my process and the act of creating art itself.
Whoever you may be: step into the evening.
Step out of the room where everything is known.
Whoever you are, your house is the last before the far-off. With your eyes, which are almost too tired to free themselves from the familiar, you slowly take one black tree and set it against the sky: slender, alone. And you have made a world. It is big and like a word, still ripening in silence. And though your mind would fabricate its meaning, your eyes tenderly let go of what they see.