Pastel portrait by Odilon Redon
One of the earliest hints that my mother had a life before I arrived had to be the cabinet in her work space in our house.
Her drawing table and easel sat nearby, but the cabinet contained the good stuff- all sorts of art supplies. Pretty quickly, in our house, you learned which shelves were off limits.
Now, I knew about crayons. Heck, I daresay I loved the little waxy things. Don’t get me started on the big box. But, one of those forbidden shelves held items that looked suspiciously like crayons. The fact that they were forbidden meant they had to be pretty special, right?
Did I mention that the cabinet was made of metal with a loud latch? I am not directly saying that I was every caught trying to use something that was not allowed.
I don’t know if the requirement to use them only with permission and oversight was driven by the difficulty in replacing them or in the impossibility of erasing them off walls and such. Either way, my humble efforts never approached my mother’s brief examples of the possibilities.
Even so, they were just glorified crayons, right? Pastels? Give me a break.
About the same timeI saw what Matisse could do with colored paper cut outs, I got a first glimpse of a Redon canvas. The effervescence- the sheer explosion of color and beauty- really, it stopped me in my tracks.
Van Gogh is understandably inescapable. Redon is certainly well-known, but not in the same name-dropping way. Of course, I carry that bundle of names with me that I wish were commonplace, but Redon seems like he should be out there a bit more.
But, back to our thesis. He did this with pastels? Honestly, that seems like magic to me. Everybody says “You have to see it in person,” but you do. The art literally glows. The flowers are close to fireworks exploding at night.
We spent some time making a museum store employee track down one of their new prints. That’s not normal behavior for me. The person helping us seemed pretty excited that someone was so interested, but still. I see that print every day. It can’t be in my office however. I wouldn’t get anything done.
What’s it all about?
You’ve Got to Check This Out is a blog series about music, words, and all sorts of artistic matters. It started with an explanation. 78 more to go.
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