What I see outside and what I’m doing inside…

I look at water, day in and day out. And years ago when I used to spend long hours, day after day, sailing boats, I also would look at water. One of my favorite places was to lie on the bow of the boat and look down. Water spirals. It spirals away from the front of a boat. It spirals when rain hits. It is probably spiraling inside each of us.

How much we are influenced by what surrounds us.

In the wonderful book, Matisse in His Studio, essay after essay is testimony to his influences: the vases he used as props, the textiles he draped around his models, the African masks he collected. I knew that both he and Picasso were influenced by African art (and I’m not wading into the European ethnocentric waters here), but I hadn’t realized how he was using that influence as a way to embody his emotional response to his subjects, much less his appreciation of pattern. I had not realized that, but once I was given the context, I could see how his work shifted from earlier painting and then, that possibility of seeing the feeling so strongly expressed and pattern everywhere.

A while ago, I had been surprised in a book about Howard Hodgkin. His work had always read to me as completely abstract. But once the author pointed out to me where I could see images in it, the work shifted for me. Again, the new information about his influences shifted my perception.

I love that I DID NOT know the information about Matisse earlier. I saw his work first as a child, and I still carry that innocent view inside me. And with Howard Hodgkin, my love of his painterly strokes will always be what I love most. And yet, now, I see their humanity. I see their relationship to the world. And I can see more deeply into their work.

In time, I may read more about Matisse. And Hodgkin. It will likely affect how I view their work again. And my mind will expand.

I dunno, another spiral, perhaps?