Once upon a time there was a man named Henri Matisse, and colors were his world.
He was born in the late 1800s, and believed in colorful artistic expression and painterly qualities over the (boring) realistic representations of the Impressionists. And, with André Derain he pioneered a movement that advocated exactly just that – giving rise to Fauvism in the early 1900s. It was a short lived movement, badly received at first (les fauves is French for ‘wild beasts’) but it was bold, vibrant, and unquestionably avant-garde.
I was asked, as part of an Illustration assignment, to study him and his paintings, and then paint a self portrait in the same style.
To be honest, I was a little tentative at first. I’d never tried what looked like unconcernedly swishing a brush across a canvas in a host of crazy colors. How would I know what colors to use? What if it didn’t look good? What if it didn’t end up looking like me?
Then of course I realized, the whole point was to just let go, and paint. So – after a lot of enjoyable experimenting – thats precisely what I did.
I took a picture of myself in a characteristic pose, picked up a brush (not a pencil mind you) and went nuts. And, I quite like the outcome. Of course, I could have done much much better now that I look at it. But, the important part was the spontaneous and the unconcerned. Something new.
Here are the two of Henri Matisse’s paintings that I was given as a reference. They’re both paintings of his wife, Amélie Noellie Matisse-Parayre.