When I was about 5, my sister was immersed in high school French. At some point she started calling me “mon petit chou”—my little cabbage. She explained it was a term of endearment and while I was dubious, I never forgot my first words of French. I loved them.
Not too much later, I began loving Henri Matisse—his colors, his unabashed looseness and his maverick rail against convention. I relished his love/hate with Picasso-- their rivalry and friendship. They both feel close to my heart.
More recently, I had my first trip to Paris. It was instant love. The architecture. The energy. The people. From the moment I spied an 80-something woman dressed to the nines with her cane and fishnet stockings, I felt kindred.
My grandfather escaped the pogroms as a teenager, and found sanctuary in France. Walking alone from Poland to Paris, he started a new life. As I strolled along Le Marais, I imagined him finding safety there, selling his woodcarvings. Mastering his art.
So Paris stirs much in my heart, as does Henri. Today I finished this piece, inspired by a Matisse. I felt such joy in creating my own iteration of his work. It just spilled off my brush. There was no angst. No indecision. It was as if he was there with me. Sitting on my shoulder. Mon petit chou.