Drawing Circus – Matisse

If you love an artist, what could possibly be better than becoming them for a while? Nothing, I’d say.

Henri Matisse is one of my favourites ever. He said something quite wonderful to which I can certainly relate:

“From the moment I held the box of colours in my hands, I knew this was my life. I threw myself into it like a beast that plunges towards the thing it loves”

I simply love colour – from the clothes I wear, the paintings I paint to the thoughts in my head – I am surrounded by a delightful mix of red, green, blue, yellow, turquoise, pink…to keep me from falling into dark and uncomfortable places.

I was recently asked to write a few words of life advice to a friend for a book being made for her. For me, all it comes down to colour. This is what a wrote:

Bella’s life advice

Always seek colour in life. Ask JMW Turner to help you find deep purples in the stormy sky & Van Gogh for warm blues in the dark of night. Allow your eyes to search amongst piles of rubbish for the red Ruby & pick the yellow bud from a bunch of dead daffodils. 

Always pick up a penny. Search for that copper glint as you march down the street and grab it while you can. One day it will help you at the Tesco self checkout.

Don’t forget to collect shells. Nestled on soft beds of sand, there are millions of natures creations to discover.

Seek colour in those around you. Henri Matisse will show you this purity in his paintings and Mondrian shows it with balance. Mark Rothko explores it’s depth & let it remind you that everything in this world has so many exciting levels of colour to reach.

My advice is to always be colourful. Red is the colour of love. When you see red let it remind you to love yourself in amongst the colour – no matter what dark tries to get in the way.

SO back to my original point – when I was asked to run a Matisse themed drawing circus, I rejoiced at the chance of morphing into Matisse for a while to create three sets full of colour & fun for The Drawing Circus event in April.

The first set was full of Matisse cut outs – painted chairs & tables, colourful felt cut-out pillows, foam board cut-outs displayed on easels.. & the like.


For the second set, I painted (with the help for wonderful Mary Martin) Matisse’s cut-out blue nude. We found a big white sheet, found a pot of blue poster paint & brought her into this world to be the backdrop of an actual blue nude. Indeed, for this set the model who posed PAINTED HERSELF BLUE. Quite extraordinary.


For the final set, I was keen to recreate Matisse’s studio. He loved colourful, pattered materials which he collected from here & there, creating magical sets for his models to pose…

IMG_8369The event was wonderful! Lots of artists came with fully Matisse inspired energy – bright and colourful, just as I like it.. Here are some photographs taken by Mary & a few of my own drawings. The next Drawing Circus event is part of Artist Open House: Fugitive Ink at 25 Compton Avenue – pop in on Saturday afternoon to draw some of our marvellous circus models while they pose in spectacular costumes..

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