Touched by Matisse

Many years ago, I was lucky enough to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art while on a trip to New York. Now, I have to tell you that even though I’m a designer, I’m not a lover of museums. I can tour them in about half the time as others—a speed-reader of art, am I—so I’m probably not someone you’d want to take with you if you like to take your time.

But, this was the Met. Everyone has to go to the Met if they get to New York, right?

And so I did.

I rushed through halls and halls for what felt like days, while my husband wandered sloooooowly behind me. I was a frequenter of benches, a foot tapper, waiting for him to catch up. While I was more into the “feel” of what art offered, he was into the history. A. Much. Longer. Trip. Through. The. Museum.

Until I got to the Matisse. My favorite artist of all time.

There’s just something about the way Matisse created with wild abandon to the rules and skeptics of his day that’s always intrigued me. He’s the artist I most wanted to replicate. The one who most inspired me. The one I did my senior project on in college.

So when I came upon his work, I was so mesmerized by it that I stopped and stood still. I stayed mere inches from it for a completely ridiculous amount of time. I refused to move so that others might see. I was completely smitten with the thought of Henri Matisse standing before the exact same canvas at one point in his life, placing careful strokes of color. I could imagine him stepping back to view his work. Adding small details. Mixing the pigments to their most vibrant hues.

I imagined doing the same. Paintbrush in hand. Then, without thinking, I actually reached out and touched it.

That’s right. I touched a Matisse.

You can imagine how popular I suddenly became.

Before my wayward hand could even withdraw, I was flanked by security guards. I stood there dumbfounded at what I’d done. I knew better. It was so involuntary, I’m not sure I even realized what I was doing until it was over.

My reprimand was lighter than you might expect. Still, the large men were very convincing. Had I had the means, I would have immediately hot-glued my hands to my sides.

But regardless of the trouble I got in, for the rest of my life, I’ve continued to remain in awe of the fact that I touched a Matisse. All the years studying his work. All the late night’s spent mimicking his style. All the research I’d done into his life. In the end, my longing to connect with him was something I didn’t even realize until the opportunity presented itself.

And though it was a brief encounter, and no one else in that room might have realized the meaning, it is something I will always have. I mean, really? Have you ever met another person in your life that has touched a Matisse?!

It’s in touching that painting that I’ve come to realize that moment in time is much like a moment I long for each of you to have. To be filled with awe by a creation so beautiful, that you are drawn to connect with the Creator. To study His word. To mimic His life. To research the truth of who He is. So that, when the opportunity presents itself, you will reach out.

If only you will pause long enough to experience it.

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