Creativity Devotional – Words From Henri Matisse

pink roses

“There is nothing more difficult for a truly creative painter than to paint a rose,
because before he can do so he has first to forget all the roses that were ever painted.”

Henri Matisse


Is painting a rose really that difficult?  I’ve seen enough paintings to know that roses are a favorite subject for many artists.  Artists seem to be able to paint roses without any problem.  So, what is Henri Matisse talking about?

The difficulty comes when you are trying to be completely original in your creativity.  The difficulty comes when you are trying not to be influenced by the other 100 rose paintings you have already seen. You can apply this concept to any subject from painting apples to zebras.  Today, we are only talking about roses.

Take time to really experience the subject you are going to paint or draw. If it is roses, spend time soaking in their floral fragrance.  Sit in a rose garden or buy a bouquet of roses at the florist shop. Arrange the flowers in a still life with objects you cherish.

Sit quietly meditating on the shapes of each rose petals, the way light or shadow curves across the turns and bends of each fragile bud. Notice the emptiness between the leaves and stems.  Focus on the thorny branches. Close your eyes and visualize the rose. Imagine what it would feel like if the flower touched your face. Photograph the rose from an angle or perspective most people don’t normally see.

Once you have a “rose experience”, you can express your feelings about the rose in your work. Determine why you desire using roses as your subject matter. Keep an open mind. Use arbitrary color. Create without fear. Draw larger or smaller than normal. 

What do you want to tell the viewer of your work about roses? Remember that you are a truly creative being.



Thank you for all our senses. Allow us to use these senses to experience the subjects we wish to paint, sculpt, or draw. Be with us as we work. Give us insight and a fresh eye, so that we might show others a new perspective of something seen everyday. Hold us in Your grace. Bless our efforts.

In Christ’s Holy name, Amen

Note* Go to Artcyclopedia to see works by Henri Matisse.

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