As much as I wanted to uncover and share more about Georges Braque, synthesizing the material was becoming too time-consuming for now. Henri Matisse, on the other hand, has a ridiculous amount of easily and wonderfully explained information. Matisse has always inspired me, so much so that in school most of my art history papers concentrated on a few of his works—“Dance”, “Music” and the Chappelle des Rosaire in Vence.
There is a marvelous video on Matisse. It is an hour long—too much for class in a way but too good to not watch the whole thing. So I propose that we watch it while working. This is going to be harder than it sounds for those with control issues. The film is captivating, and inspirational. You will likely be torn between watching and creating as you sit in the dark.
So here’s the plan:
Fresh paper—I suggest not-too -big paper (16”x20” is perfect) because it is easier to manipulate, easier to play with. And that is the spirit in which we will be working.
Prepare a palette of neutrals—white black, ochre or raw sienna, primary colors, and 3 or 4 of your favorite highly saturated colors (have a spray bottle to continually moisten the paint so you don’t have to re-load the palette). Remember, you will be in the dark which is a GREAT way to learn about color and value. You will be forced to utilize contrast, both in value and in temperature. (No Whining about the lack of light. That is part of the exercise.)
Find a spot in the room as subject. Maybe augment the surroundings with a still life object or two or three or four, etc.
As we begin the lesson and the video, begin to sketch your chosen viewloosely with soft graphite or wash pencil or conte crayon. As you watch the video let your hand dance around the page, you will mostly be looking at the video. The lines will be part of a woven background.
Start adding value with neutrals. (practice mixing neutrals ahead of lights out.)
Make sure you are working the WHOLE and that you are composing the entire picture plane.
When inspired, add color.
As you develop the painting, the process will be one of simplifying. It may turn into a mess. The idea is to not have control but instead to follow, in one hour, the steps of a modern master.
When the lights come on you may have caught a big fish or an old boot—it doesn’t matter. The exercise is in the doing.