Flowers everywhere

There are flowers everywhere for those who care to look. (Henri Matisse)

There is nothing more difficult for a truly creative painter than to paint a rose, because before he can do so he has first to forget all the roses that were ever painted. (Henri Matisse)

It has bothered me all my life that I do not paint like everybody else. (Henri Matisse)

Exactitude is not truth. (Henri Matisse)  

I don’t know whether I believe in God or not. I think, really, I’m some kind of a Buddhist. But the essential thing is to put oneself in a frame of mind which is close to that of prayer. (Henri Matisse)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henri_Matisse

http://www.henri-matisse.net/

__________
PS: There’s a lot I could have written … but I wanted to keep the spaces between the lines free for you.

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9 thoughts on “Flowers everywhere

  1. Je me demande —

    Like your cropping of abstract images to see what else might be there, it makes me question my own belief “images” and wonder what else might be there —

    • I am reminded of Ikebana — there are a number of schools, each with its own style of flower-arranging; ‘correct’ results are achieved by working within a set of rules; outstanding results appear, as if by magic, when there is a natural harmony between the materials, the container and the discipline.

      One thing seems common to all Ikebana schools: cutting away what is superfluous, leaving only the essence.

  2. “Cutting away what is superfluous —”
    Writing a sonnet in prescribed form forces that. I’d say that good writing does that (and mostly it does) but then there’s GORGEOUS writing —which may be a little different. Hmmmm — or not. (E.g., Dylan Thomas, A Child’s Christmas in Wales.)
    But mostly I am astonished that Matisse might ever have WANTED to paint like everybody else. Maybe he had to grow into being Matisse himself?

    • Further comment on “Cutting away what is superfluous —” I don’t see FORCE in any prescribed form; to me, forms are (like computers) rigid and insensitive idiots. That is why it is possible to produce a sonnet that adheres precisely to every aspect of the form without providing any essence at all. The factors that make the difference are our mindfulness, our scrupulous honesty, and our finely-honed powers of discrimination and choice.

  3. Matisse didn’t say he WANTED to paint like everyone else, but only that not doing so bothered him. A guess here: he was implying that he considered it important to be perpetually self-critical — which I’d suggest is, in a way, very Zen. (Zen says: “Don’t know. Nothing special.”)

    Pablo Picasso, on the other hand, was able to draw very well at an early age, and said that it took him many years to unlearn that skill.

    Johannes Brahms was very self-critical; Jean Sibelius destroyed large quantities of his music because it wasn’t good enough.

    New Zealand composer Douglas Lilburn advised his students to look for their favourite passage … and remove it.

  4. The Lilburn remark reminded me of writing advice from Madeleine L’Engle to do just the same thing —

    For me, self-doubt is a killer; I can only go on by going on — taking out purple passages later, for instance. Questioning the worth of a basic enterprise leaves me dead in the water.

    OTOH, “don’t know” and “nothing special” and “don’t-know mind” are encouraging. They lower grandiosity.

    Self-criticism on artistic grounds: no problem. And criticism by others, I either accept or reject, not much ego involved. Self-doubt, though —

    So for me there’s a big distinction between self-doubt and self-criticism. Which is behind Matisse’s being bothered by not painting like others? He was a great artist, he COULD only paint as he could. Self-criticism surely was mostly about skills, about how well he was achieving his goals? But self-doubt about the worthiness of those goals? If that was it, then perhaps my belief that great artists are always SURE is an illusion.

    (Picasso obviously never felt one nano-second of doubt in his entire life.)

    Sorry to be so long-winded on your dime — J

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