I’ve never traveled abroad. But I have experienced the world through many art museums and exhibitions throughout America. A favorite exhibition was in 1999 at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, Matisse and Picasso: A Gentle Rivalry. Oh! What a feast for my eyes, mind, and heart! I learned that Matisse meticulously studied, drew, and re-drew his models until finally, pivoting to a blank canvas and eloquently drawing each calligraphic line from memory. His simple, lovely lines became powerful expressions. I was just reading an article about Matisse and learned he also worked and re-worked his paintings, yet the outcome appeared lively and spontaneous. The author even noted that Matisse didn’t want the younger generation to be misled into thinking his work came easily and quickly.
For the past ten years I have entered many various juried art shows. My work has been selected, and just as many rejected. This month I received acceptance notices for two traveling international shows. This is very encouraging for me, especially as my retirement is providing more time to focus on my art. Yet, the two works selected are not ones that I particularly labored and valued the most. I personally wouldn’t have even chosen them to best represent me as an artist. There’re some lessons here for us as teachers and artists, yes?!
We’ve heard the saying of a person “making it look so easy.” And then we try it and lose heart! Henri Matisse made it look easy. And he knew it wasn’t. I guess, I just want to encourage all of us to keep on keeping on without second-guessing or pre-determining the outcome! When teaching, I loved showing a simple, gestural Matisse drawing and asking students how long they thought it took him to complete it. After their guesses of 5 or 10 minutes, I would say, “No, it took a life time!”