Harmony in Red
The Green Stripe (or Portrait of Mme. Matisse)
As my children nap, I peruse a coffee table book of Matisse to relax my mind and body. I feel a wave of peace wash over me like a wave on the beach. What is it about Matisse? I spend long time with Harmony in Red, looking at the ecstatic moment of a women setting a bowl on the table. How often am I setting a bowl on my own kitchen table? Usually it feels like labor, a heavy chore that should have been completed by now. I am tired-hurried-hot-annoyed all at once.
The story goes that Matisse was a lawyer and became sick for many weeks. His mother brought him a paint box and art paper. While he was convalescing, Matisse experimented with paints and discovered a “paradise within.” His Harmony in Red says to me, “Remember where you are: You are in paradise.” I am awed by the raspberry red, the twisting vines that run off the table cloth and right up the wall. I am astonished by the serenity and dignity of the scene. This painting says to me, “See the beauty all around you.” The goldfish, the colors in his paintings. They all remind me: Live in the moment! Don’t miss the epiphany waiting for you!
As a mother, I am desperately in need of this reminder. I want to find the dignity in the child, the spouse, the meal, the home, the people I encounter. I want to find my paradise within, and let it help me see the paradise all around.