Dancing Matisse

For this week’s fabric design contest Spoonflower partnered with the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University with the theme of designing a textile that would look at home in a Matisse painting.  They included these examples as inspiration.

I’ve always like Matisse’s cutouts and thought I’d try something in that style.  This web site about Matisse has a great overview of his cutouts, and this is what the National Gallery of Art says about the cutouts:

During the last fifteen years of his life, Henri Matisse developed his final artistic triumph by “cutting into color.” The drama, scale, and innovation of Matisse’s rare and fragile papiers coupes (paper cutouts) remain without precedent or parallel. His technique involved the freehand cutting of colored papers into beautiful shapes, which he then pinned loosely to the white studio walls, later adjusting, recutting, combining, and recombining them to his satisfaction. The result created an environment that transcended the boundaries of conventional painting, drawing, and sculpture.

The fabric design contest specified using these four colors along with white.  These colors aren’t ones I’d normally pick, but the more I looked at examples of Matisse’s paintings, the more these colors appeared.  Some examples are:  La Moulade, View of Collioure, Seated Riffian, and The Black Fern.

I started my design by drawing various leaves in the style of Matisse’s cutouts.  (I did all the work for my designs using Adobe Illustrator).

I also created a checked background — another recurring theme in Matisse’s paintings.  I put the leaves and the background together for this design.

I wasn’t happy with it — too heavy, too dark, too something.

I started again, and drew a number of figures dancing.

I decided to try blocks of color for the background, much like the negative space of the cutouts.  Rather than put each figure into one block of color, I put them across different colors, hoping this would add to the movement of the design.

I tried one last option — adding a fine white grid to the background.

In the end, I preferred it without the white grid.  Here’s the final design Dancing Matisse.

You can see my design in my Spoonflower shop, and all the contest entries here.

Cutting into color reminds me of the sculptor’s direct carving.
Henri Matisse

My curves are not crazy.
Henri Matisse

There are always flowers for those who want to see them.
Henri Matisse

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2 thoughts on “Dancing Matisse

  1. Hi there this is somewhat of off topic but I was wondering if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML. I’m starting a blog soon but have no coding experience so I wanted to get advice from someone with experience. Any help would be enormously appreciated

    • Thanks for your interest in my blog. I use wordpress.com for my blog, and they provide a free hosting service. Using WordPress.com is very much WYSIWYG, though you can get into the HTML if you want. I pay for an upgrade (around $20/year) that allows me to customize some of the formatting. But, pretty much all my blog posts I do just with the WYSIWYG.

      Hope this helps. Jean

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