In here lies why I’m not Picasso (or Mattisse, or…)

matisse - gif


Making Picasso’s point visible: In 2010, MoMA curators used X-ray technology to reveal the many iterations behind Henri Matisse’s painting ‘Bathers by a River,’ on which the painter worked for eight years between 1909 and 1917.


Matisse does a drawing, then he recopies it. He recopies it five times, ten times, each time with cleaner lines. He is persuaded that the last one, the most spare, is the best, the purest, the definitive one; and yet, usually it’s the first. When it comes to drawing, nothing is better than the first sketch.

~ Picasso

Despite being both a professional admirer and a personal friend of Matisse’s, he cites the painter’s notoriously methodical creative process as a betrayal of this notion that an artist should honor his or her initial creative intuition.

Read more at Brainpickings: Picasso on Work Ethic, How Creativity Works, and Why Intuitive Ideas Are More Important Than Methodical Technique


The Relentless Reviser

henri matisse-young-sailor I & II (1906)


The path to excellence.  Study the best in the field. Develop lifelong habits. Continuously revise and improve. (Kaizen.)  Practice.  Have a critical eye with your own work.  Be sure to focus on the process as it is as important as the output. Pursue your field of passion despite the views of your critics.  There are no shortcuts to excellence – it takes incredible focus and effort.  Same old, same old?  Yes.  It worked for Matisse.  And it will work for you and me.

Henri Matisse (1869-1954), along with Picasso and Duchamp, was regarded as one of three artists who helped define art and sculpture in the 20th century.  There is a Matisse show on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art until March 17th, 2013.  There is an exceptional review of the show in wsj.com titled The Relentless Reviser.  Below I share excerpts from the review that are applicable to many of us in our fields: [Read more…]

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