• Marilyn Gardner Woods

Yep, art imitates life...

Who doesn’t love the Impressionists? Those light-filled, loosely brush-worked, fleeting-moments kind of rock star artists who together burst open the gates of academic art and unleashed an unending barrage of -isms which continues today. Post-impressionism, Fauvism, Pointillism, Cubism, Expressionism, Minimalism, Conceptualism along with Installation Art, Street Art, Performance Art, Code-generated Art, and most recently NFT's and Crypto Art.



Boats on the Beach at Etretat, Claude Monet, 1883

For the past few days, I have immersed myself in the lives—Bohemian and not—and works—emotional, expressive, and exciting—of Monet, Degas, Morisot, Pissarro, Seurat, and Sisley and those unprecedented post-impressionists who followed like Cézanne, Gauguin and Toulouse-Lautrec. All in preparation to return from a brief leave of absence to my work at The San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park and the stunning, crowd-pleasing Monet to Matisse: Impressionist Masterpieces from the Bemberg Foundation exhibition on view through August 7.


View of Antibes, Henri Matisse, 1920

One thing in my research struck me and has stayed with me. These artists lived and created collaboratively. Inspiring one another, mentoring each other, painting together, sharing studios, painting locations and models, supporting each other’s efforts.


How their lives intertwined is quite fascinating.

Particularly to me at this moment.


I am without collaboration in my writing efforts. The writing group - Rose, Carrie, Connie, Barb, David, and Janice, along with amazing mentor Judy Reeves - which had been my north star for five long and productive years disbanded last month after some deliberation and a great many tears.



Since then, I have floundered. Untethered. Unaccountable. Without constructive comment. Longing for that unconditional support and friendship.


Being part of a group of like-minded, like-passioned people is invaluable to my way of thinking. When the trust is right, it is even possible and beneficial to accept constructive criticism or new ways of thinking.

Even a “It just doesn’t work for me…”


Don’t get me wrong about the late 19th century, early 20th century French artists that have totally occupied my thoughts lately. Picasso and Matisse, while they were great friends, they were also huge rivals. Gauguin and Seurat detested one another. Don’t forget Van Gogh’s ear. Jealousies often ran rampant. But the collaborative spirit far overshadowed any discord.


I need collaboration.

Collaboration is paramount to the creative process for me.


I will find another group. Friends or not in the beginning. If it’s right, they will be friends as we progress.


In the meantime, I’m doing a lot of reading. Two books on the above subjects that I inhaled:





Matisse and Picasso: The Story of Their and Friendship by Jack Flam. In this dual artistic biography of these two compelling geniuses, Flam compares the painters, at various stages of their relationship, to boxers, chess players and "top-level athletes who set the pace for each other."












In The Private Lives of the Impressionists, author Sue Roe transported me back to Paris as she told the story of the movement’s leaders, their financial and personal struggles, loves and losses. So many intriguing twists and turns and such good storytelling.








Some of my favorites from the exhibition…


Portraits of young men...on the left twenty-two-year-old Picasso's friend and fellow artist, and on the right, Gauguin's portrait of a young boy.


Portrait of a Young Boy, Paul Gauguin, 1888


Portrait of Angel Fernandez Soto, Pablo Picasso, 1903

Any my favorites of the Fauves and the Pointillists:



Almond Trees in Flower, Paul Signac, 1902-04

Still Life with Fish, Maurice de Vlaminck, 1907

By the way, The San Diego Museum of Art where you can see all these wonderful paintings and drawings through August 7 is very, very cool, thanks to the air-conditioning!

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