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Matisse: Yellow Sunflowers

Matisse’s early paintings were mostly interior scenes and landscapes. By the late 1890’s he stopped painting using the traditional techniques that many of his fellow artists were using. His paintings became bolder and much brighter and gone were the paintings with dark backgrounds and refined brushstrokes. Matisse followed the contemporary artists by using bold, bright, loosely painted pictures.

Henri Matisse, Vase of Sunflowers 1898-99

Matisse’s Vase of Sunflowers is part of a group of paintings he created while in Corsica in 1898 to 1899. On this trip he was greatly influenced by the beautiful southern landscape and the bright, blinding southern sunlight. This lead Matisse to abandon the Impressionistic style of fluttering light and air in his paintings. Instead, he made his background full of thick brushstrokes, giving the air in his paintings a heavy feel and accentuating light and form. The subject matter of the sunflower conveys the sun’s energy through the bold bright colors. This was not by mistake but was intentional. Using the energetic heavily applied brushstrokes refers back to the work of Van Gogh and demonstrates the influence Van Gogh had on the development of the young artist, Matisse.

Supplies needed:

  • heavyweight sulphite paper
  • tempera paint
  • various paint brushes
  • pencil
  • painting placements

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