For the longest time, the bowl of cacti sat by the side of the house. Most of the other plants in my cactus/succulent garden had died. I thought the cacti were dead too. They were half submerged in the dirt, gray looking, no green anywhere. I put the round pot back in the sunlight on the porch, where they once thrived. I watered them along with the rest of the plants, not expecting anything to happen. Bu gradually, green bumps appeared on the carcasses. They differentiated into perfect, round, miniature cactus leaves, and elongated as they matured.
Matisse sought the ‘essential character’ beneath the surface appearance, according to John Elderfield (in Henri Matisse: A Retrospective). Elsewhere in Elderfield’s volume, he noted that Matisse did not strive to recreate the visual appearance of his subject but rather the feeling it evoked in him.
I tried to do this in my study below. I sat on the porch and made a couple of sketches of the cacti in their current state.
I tried to keep Matisse’s advice in mind during the sketching and painting stages.