You know I love Matisse.  His work has been a grand and gaudy inspiration, helping me build a pandemic portfolio.

I adapted one work to express how I feel about COVID-19.  That happy little goldfish, hopping out of the bowl, has no idea the speed her little life will change, should the lurking kitty spring quickly.


Me and the Pandemic

Seriously, even when I sit quietly, I feel as if I am being pursued by an amorphous, monstrous, and patient threat. So, I don’t sit as quietly as I might; I paint.  And Matisse’ colors are easy for old eyes to see.

Some of My-tisse’s Have Been a Mistake

Now, early on, I had tried my hand at a portrait  by Matisse that intrigued me. I think it was the hat. I love hats!

But the finished product wound up scaring me.

My lady looked like she just got COVID-19! She had no charm, no panache; she just looked somewhat queasy.

But, I didn’t know what to do with her.  I couldn’t just toss her.


Redeeming a Mistake


Never say, “oops.” Always say, “Ah, interesting.” ~Author unknown

Since I had slathered the colors on this – it started as a black canvas — I wondered just how much Gesso it would take to redeem the canvas.

Not as much as I thought, fortunately.

Matisse, however, wasn’t the right muse for this makeover, though I knew I wanted bright and bold colors and design. So, I chose a present-day painter, Annie O’Brien Gonzales, whose works just makes me smile.

Goaded by a quote attributed to Claude Monet, I would like to paint the way a bird sings, I took out a big brush, and applied generous layers of Gesso.

Then, settling down to redeem a disappointing portrait, an idea took hold: God is in the business of redeeming seemingly ruined canvases.

Not exactly a revolutionary analogy: Oscar Wilde’s novel made the point that our soul is a canvas that our sins disfigure. But the HOPE that God specializes in makeovers is a good one to hang onto today. He won’t just toss out the messes we make of our souls!

If a mistake is not a stepping stone, it is a mistake. ~Eli Siegel

So, feeling my own determination to redeem what I thought might be a lost cause  is a hearty  tonic.  As are the words, But God:

Revel in these two priceless words. Every thing, sweet and bitter, that will occur between now and the moment of your death God will work for your good (Romans 8:28), and every glorious pleasure that you will ever enjoy in your future eternal life in his presence (Psalm 16:11) because of the gospel of these two words: “but God.” (But God)



Alexandra Lambdin


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