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August 15, 2017

There’s Something About Painted Mary

There are always flowers for those who want to see them.” ~ Henri-Émile-Benoît Matisse

Have you ever experienced the road rash that comes from a spectacular Vespa fall in the South of France? While I can’t whole heartedly recommend it, I can say that I would do it all again for the experience. Not the experience of falling, but the experience of standing in front of a master work by a master artist with blood running down my shin and the overwhelming sensation that all the paths I have walked down in life– the tumbles and the triumphs–are shapes of paper in a collage that individually seem insignificant, but collectively mean everything.

The date was June 21st, 2012. The place was The Musée Matisse in Nice. The artist was Henri-Émile-Benoît Matisse. The work of art was Nu bleu IV – 1952.

Nu Bleu IV, Henri Matisse, 1952

Matisse once said “There are always flowers for those who want to see them.” I think he meant there is beauty to be found everywhere: in the simplest of expressions and in the seemingly mundane; it’s all about perspective. I believe this statement to be true. I also believe that occasionally out of the seemingly banal and Albert Camus-esque absurdity of life we can be blessed with meaningful moments, if we are open to them.

However, I have also found that while roses can be found everywhere for those who are willing to stop and smell them, and meaning can be made out of triviality, some flowers are like the rare Middlemist Red, and some of life’s experiences will never be duplicated.

When you see Middlemist Red twice in 5 years you can count yourself very lucky, and I lucked out when I stumbled upon a Matisse-like master artist and her paintings last month.

The date was July 15th, 2017. The place was the Renegade Craft Fair in San Francisco. The artist was Mary Finlayson. The work of art was French Masters, Plants and Blankets –2017.

French Masters, Plants and Blankets, Mary Finlayson, 2017

Mary Finlayson is the San Francisco based artist behind paintedmary.com. A transplant from British Columbia, Finlayson grew up surrounded by beauty. Inspired by nature, she has painted large and colorful landscapes. But, she has not limited her scope to the exterior world:

I am interested in the stories that interiors contain and how we use these spaces to tell stories. I never look at a room without thinking of the choices inherent in each object and how they are used to portray personal narratives. When I am in other people’s homes I think of myself as a voyeur, glimpsing at the intimacy of how one creates a home and uses interior spaces to reflect their personal identity. Interior spaces are deeply personal and reveal an intimacy that is rarely discussed or considered.” ~Mary Finlayson

Photo Credit: Nicola Parisi, 2017

This is, I personally believe, how Mary Finlayson truly blooms where Matisse was once planted. Like the famous 20th century colorist and fauvist, “her use of vivid color and energetic line suggest feelings of gesture and movement that help enliven emotional responses to otherwise ordinary, mundane, private settings.”

Another clear point of intersection for Mary and Matisse is the therapeutic nature of both artists’ works. Drawing on color theory and expressionism, each artist creates special moments of joy and serenity for their viewers. Mary’s mastery of “Art Therapy”, the subject of her advanced degree, is evident in each of her paintings. Her deft use of fauvism pushes boundaries as it experiments with more colors than just the normal palette eradicating stigma and stereotypes, and helping the viewer to see the value in their own different and unique perspective.

It would seem that Mary and Matisse share the same vision for their art, as Matisse once said:

What I dream of is an art of balance, of purity and serenity, devoid of troubling or depressing subject-matter, an art which could be for every mental worker, for the businessman as well as the man of letters, for example, a soothing, calming influence on the mind, something like a good armchair which provides relaxation from physical fatigue.” ~Henri-Émile-Benoît Matisse

Yellow Chair, Mary Finlayson, 2017

Mary’s artwork achieves the goal Matisse was striving for: a mental escape to a world of color, shape, and serenity; and the assurance that Vespa rides to museums in the South of France, while dangerous, are always worth it.

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