Matisse On Monday
This morning the sky is subdued, it droops over the moors, and rain fills the low gap between cloud and earth. Undeterred birds still sing. I sign for a parcel while the postman names the weather; ‘Unsettled.’
In the habit of revisiting books, seeking to turn out anything which has ceased to inspire; maybe I have outgrown it, or just absorbed it so much the original can carry its light to another shelf, I swoop a book as I pass through the front room; one I remember buying on another rainy day.
The colours drew me first; the words took me to the till with my rattling purse, tumbling pennies onto the counter. April ’93, I have written inside the cover.
Today also I seek colour; luminous, calm, luxurious colour. I think to scan the words. Instead I sit and read the whole book. Three quotes I pick out to share.
Henri Matisse, son of a grain merchant, discovered his vocation by accident, given a gift of a paint set, whilst in convalescence from appendicitis. Paint on paper wakes his world up:
‘Everything is new… everything is fresh, as if the world had just been born; a flower, a leaf, a stone, everything shines, everything shimmers, everything glistens as if it were polished, you can’t imagine how beautiful it is. Sometimes I think that we profane life itself. We are so used to seeing things that we no longer look at them. We experience them only is a superficial way. We don’t feel any more. We have become blasé.’
(Hard work will beat talent if talent doesn’t work hard:)
‘I have always tried to hide my own efforts and wished my works to have the lightness and joyousness of springtime which never lets anyone suspect the labour it has cost. So I am afraid that the young, seeing in my work only the apparent facility and negligence of the drawing, will use this as an excuse for dispensing with the certain efforts which I believe necessary.’
And this, which is what my descriptions aspire towards:
‘In a drawing the character of a face does not derive from its various proportions but from the spiritual light which is reflected in it.’