Go Big or Go Home


“Six months ago.”  I muttered to myself.  “Six months ago Tannis gave you this freakin’ awesome canvas for your birthday, and there it sits.”  I continued, in part scolding myself but also trying to evoke courage.  In a way, to dare myself forward into unknown and untried territory.

I had just happened to mention to my art buddies one day that I wanted to start painting bigger.  The little 8x10 panels seemed too restrictive, like that bra that’s too tight and just keeps digging in deeper, stuck in a rut that you hope won’t be permanent.  I was sure the Monet within me would be released (and normal blood flow restored) if I started painting larger.  I would be set free from the tiny, cramped formats of my past. 

Spurred on by the exciting opportunity to show my art in my hometown of Richland, I took the hulking beast canvas into my hands and tore the plastic wrap from it with purpose and confidence.  I knew I had to act quickly before I started overthinking the bold move I was making.  (Like “You have no idea what you are doing.”)  I flipped my hair back triumphantly and opened my easel larger than it had ever gone, cinching the large canvas tightly into submission. 

I mixed a pile of paint and grabbed the largest brush I had and began to smear and swipe the paint on until every bit of the intimidating white had disappeared (this took a great deal of time and physical strength).  At last, I was ready to begin my painting.  With my composition map taped securely above the canvas, I stepped back into a lunge and extended my brush forward.  (I may have said something like “On guard, you scalawag for I am your master!” but conversations like that, when there is no one about, should stay in the studio.) 


No longer imprisoned by the little panels of my past, I moved forward with renewed enthusiasm.  Was it easy?  Absolutely not.  Did I mix many tiny piles of paint only to realize I needed mountains of it?  Repeatedly.  Was there a pain that moved down my hand and arm and then up my neck to my brain.  Yes.  Ouch. 

However, something amazing happened.  The greens were beautiful and the foreground shone with warmth.  There was a mood of peace and tranquility in those vines formed of pigment and arm pain.  There was a touch of mystery and the anticipation of something wonderful . . . just ahead. 

Painting is the passage from the chaos of emotions to the order of the possible.”  -Balthus

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far it is possible to go.”  -T. S. Eliot