What is it?
A still-life painting, Basket With Oranges, 1913 by Henri Matisse.
How was this painting done?
Matisse has been very skillful in his use of colour and decoration here. Notice how each colour used is distributed in various amounts throughout the painting. This ties the painting together. The colours jump across the picture and “talk to each other” creating unity and harmony. Colour harmony is one of the reasons this still life is so eye catching.
Matisse has used flatness most effectively in “Basket With Oranges.” The objects are not three dimensional, nor did Matisse intend them to be. In doing so, he shows off what a painting can be, not what the items actually are. Matisse reminds us that we are viewing a work of art which has called attention to itself as a painting, not as a group of objects.
Why should we care?
Matisse visited Morocco in 1912, the year before this painting was done. After that, everything changed for Matisse and for us.
Morocco meant extravagance of colour, pattern and light. Dizzying arrangements of carpet, textiles and wallpaper emphasized pattern and color. Decoration in Morocco was like no other. It was not secondary to an image; it was the principal subject.
In “Basket With Oranges”, Matisse has successfully separated decorative art and the intellectual obligations of easel painting. He does not intend any other aim than beauty, pleasure and delight of the senses.
Matisse’s trip to Morocco in 1912 resulted in decorative pictures full of joy and positivity. His subsequent paintings featured strong vibrant colours, patterns and light. Matisse developed a style that is everlasting.
Where can I find more paintings like it?
Paintings by Raoul Dufy done 15 years later can be seen with Matisse’s influence of colour, decoration and light. These include “Open Window Nice“, 1928 and “Interior With Open Windows“, 1928.
It may be said that Cezanne was influenced by Paul Gauguin. This can be seen in some of Gauguin’s paintings done in the vibrant, colourful culture of Tahiti. A good example is “The Seed of the Areoi“, which was painted in 1892, 21 years earlier than “Basket With Oranges.”
Meditate, relax and enjoy
There can be no mistakes in making this painting. Everything ends up as it should be. Take the luxury of “time out” to recreate this fabulous painting in acrylics yourself, here’s how:
You will need
- a small canvas, 30cm x 40cm is a good size (recycled is okay as below)
- tubes of primary acrylic colours, blue, red and yellow plus white
- a dark watercolour crayon
- soft nylon paint brushes, (small, medium and a little larger)
- water in an old container
- a rag or disposable cloth
- two or three hours
Tips on the Process
- prime the canvas first, otherwise, just a wash and dry with a towel
- print the photo you want to work from, measure and cut into quarters to make your drawing in a grid
- turn the original photo upside down to make the drawing
- use a dark coloured watercolour crayon for your drawing
- correct drawing right-side up from the original
- erase crayon easily with a damp cloth
- it is a big plus if the watercolour crayon mark bleeds into the painting
- everything is easily painted over or blended in with acrylics
- paint in the background first
- The painting will not look great at the initial blocking in stage, stay with it for a pleasant surprise
- try not to use paint directly from the tube; experiment with how to mix colours
- acrylics dry darker than the mixed colour
The Drawing Process
Turn your photo upside down and draw the space around the drawing first. This is just a framework to place the figure on the page and you can easily correct right-side up with the dampened cloth as I have done below.
Otherwise, you may use my drawing below. I suggest you ask your copy shop to print the PDF below onto a canvas and proceed to make your own unique painting. Otherwise, you can print the copy on to good quality paper, paint the picture and frame it. It’s your painting after all!
Original image from https://www.wikiart.org/en/henri-matisse/basket-with-oranges-1913 accessed 28/11/2016