Stephen Rose is a painter and art teacher who has lived throughout the Northeast and currently resides in the Hudson Valley. He was an art major at Yale University and received a Masters in Art Education from Columbia Teachers College. His work has evolved from figurative allegorical tales to landscapes to his current more intuitive work, which owes much to the inspiring teaching of Tim Hawksworth. He has shown mostly in non-profit spaces in the Hudson Valley and maintains studios in New York City and Cold Spring.
For many years, I was a landscape painter, working on location, but I found it hard to transcend the supposed givens of time and place, the seemingly visual picture. I knew there was more to experience than the play of material form, atmosphere, and color, and I pushed paintings to allow landscapes to be metaphors. Yet I clung to specificities. But it became increasingly clear that whatever seemed to be objective experiences of nature were entirely resident in consciousness. I wasn’t really looking at a scene, but at my own mind. My world was a mental construct, reflecting the quality of my consciousness. I hadn’t really been allowing the depth of consciousness to lead, but remained servile to sensory experience and personal viewpoint. I had to admit that a sprawling landscape seemed, at its most essential, an evocation of the infinite, a gift of the gods, emanations of the heart, and not actually resident in a time or place. In short, landscapes appeared as mental/emotional/spiritual geographies. I no longer felt the need to record a specific location, and instead focused on consciousness.
The questions now were: How rich was my consciousness? How was I to mine the depths of the heart? Did I really have to do anything, or was I just in the way of a more profound process? Who was this I, anyway? I sensed so much latent terrain that wanted to be made visible, much more than I could see, imagine, or “create”. So I turned to a more intuitive approach to art making. Removing myself from the process seemed the healthiest path. It was certainly more fun than willful posturing, and it opened up unexpected vistas. So, now I listen…and hear paintings waiting to be born. I invite them to use my studio.
This process of relinquishing control, habits, and expectations, a daily reaffirmation, found confirmation in lines from Rilke (To Hölderlin, Stanza 1):
We are not permitted to linger, even with what is most intimate. From images that are full, the spirit plunges on to others that suddenly must be filled; there are no lakes till eternity. Here, falling is best. To fall from the mastered emotion into the guessed-at, and onward.