Henri Matisse, Mary Oliver, and Me
I've been cutting paper lately.
Not as much as I want to because I don't have enought time but I've been dabbling ... so inspired after a recent visit to LACMA where I was able to see some of Henri Matisse's works up close and personal. I've always adored Matisse and immensely enjoyed the opportunity to hear a lecture and learn more about him at LACMA.
He was a sculptor and painter but when he became ill with cancer, he couldn't keep up with the rigors of painting and sculpting so he began to cut paper to create what he called paper sculptures.
This particular piece below is a ceramic rendering of his original paper on canvas that was commissioned by an art collector. Titled La Gerbe. It was breathtaking to see it up close.
I learned that his proces was to paint thick paper with gouache. And when those papers were dry, he cut them into shapes and mounted them onto a substrate where the cut paper would be slightly higher than the substrate ... like this.
My papercutting activities haven't yet involved painting papers with gouache ... I've just been cutting colored paper and mounting the pieces down onto paper. But I'm really excited to try exactly what Matisse did.
Inspired. And yes, imitating Matisse.
The concept of imitation is a tricky topic within the art world ... also within the world of writing and really any other segment of society if you think about it.
On my way down to LACMA I was reading out loud to my family, passages from Mary Oliver's book titled A Poetry Handbook. It's a really wonderful book that has so much wisdom packed in it ... not only for aspiring poets but for aspiring artists of all kinds. One topic that she talks about at length is the value of imitating.
She goes on to say that staying too long with imitating one certain style may get you stuck and unable to coax your own voice out into the world. She encourages, however, imitating many styles, to learn from them, as you eventually find your own unique voice that can unleash through the process of observing, imitating, studying, and learning.