Holding Henri Matisse’s brush

It took me about a year to really understand Fauvism. I don’t mean the basics and the history of it, no. I’m writing about the fine details in every painting. Since the pandemic began, I haven’t been able to go to any museum to see the paintings. So I had to be really careful with what I thought I was learning from each artist. The brushstrokes, the vibrancy of the colors, and the deep blue outlines. It’s easy to retrace a technique in your head. But it’s a different story creating a picture and coordinating the movements in your head with your hands.

I was always so astounded by Henri Matisse’s Landscape at Collioure collection. I can stare at it for hours, days even, and there will be a section of the canvas that feels new every time.

Henri Matisse's Landscape at Collioure.
Henri Matisse, Landscape at Collioure, Oil on canvas, 1905

So I decided to begin holding Henri Matisse’s brush for a while. It’s quite a liberating thing to do. I have never felt both control and freedom with the strokes and shapes. I’ve also been more honest about what I want my painting to mean, what sense it needs to make. I’m slowly in the process of making art more meaningful, rather than it being beautiful.

Watercolor painting of two trees on sparse grass with yellow flowers, surrounded by orange leaves and blue, angular raindrops falling from two clouds.
I used watercolors. Quite a different approach.

When I started painting this piece, I automatically changed my plans of making the grass uniformly green. I also let my leaves look more like waterlilies in their shape. And for me, the blue needed to look different than raindrops. It needed angle, more movement with my fingers holding the brush and less curve in my wrist. The most natural part of this process was using colors directly from the pan. It would have been more common for me to use oil or gouache paints, but I wanted it to be something I never experienced before.

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