"Each time that a student who devotes himself to painting arrives at school for the first time, he should be given a volley of blows by a stick and after to lead him back to his home and he will see if he wants to begin again. If there was a test like that there would be a great many who would not return. "
- Henri Matisse
I was struck by this quote while reading a transcript of an interview with Matisse. It made me chuckle. Not because I believe artists should be beaten with sticks, but because life already delivers "a volley of blows" to creative people on a regular basis. I think that's a part of the whole process. Leave it to Matisse to suggest additional beatings for new students. (Read the full interview here.)
This week the universe is whispering about gifts. Finding gifts in suffering. Seeing gifts in problems. Diving into adversity in search of treasure. Not running from pain because there is gold in them there hills. Alright. Message received. Sometimes leaning in to what pains us brings us closer to aha moments.
Outside my studio door is a painting by my dad. A Van Gogh tribute (nearly 99% of his paintings were inspired by Van Gogh) filled with spritely brush strokes and vivid colors. And I have the book of paintings dad consulted before sketching his designs. So I grabbed it and paged through. Tucked in the middle was one piece he hadn't touched...a darkened forest with a vague couple in the trees. It beckoned. Seeing the painting through my dad's eyes, I can understand why he dodged it. He was a widower, and the shadowy couple likely made him miss my mom.
But now, skewing this Van Gogh painting, I feel a lightness and sense of completion. A full-circleness. Like my parents reunited in a painting that foretold things to come. Painting in the style my dad revered, touching a piece that was still waiting for him - an homage to the master and to his devoted fan.