Here’s a creative method surprisingly and often overlooked as we go about and busy ourselves in art-making. Take a look around your own home and family and see what might be needed. Find a wall or a space that can be filled with something you, yourself, would rather like to see. Take a look around your home and family and find something that is worthy of another look and perhaps a rendering for your own joy.”
Love something — serve it” might seem like an outworn sentiment — but it’s often the very basis of great art and artistic evolvement.
The work of the Swedish painter Carl Larsson (1853-1919) is a case in point. Between the commissions and frescos of his professional life, he painted his love of his wife and children, hearth and home, the interiors of his remarkable cottage and studio, the extraordinary furniture that his artist-wife Karin designed, his humble and quite ordinary neighbours and friends, as well as the noble and creative people who passed through his life.
The result is a charming insight simply spilling over with stylish rusticity and honest happiness. One’s eyes feast on his clean and rectilinear watercolor drawings with their daring decentralizations, sharp Nordic color and decorative anecdote. We have the feeling that although they were destined for publication in what was to become his highly successful book, The House in the Sun, these were the works of his true heart.
Here’s the exercise: Step gently into an unevolved part of your space, pause briefly, and ask, “What could be?”
PS: “A home is not dead, but living, and like all living things must obey the laws of nature by constantly changing.” (Carl Larsson, 1910)
This letter was originally published as “Make a home” on April 4, 2000.
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