In November 2009, I had the chance to take a solo trip to see family in Florida – my trip actually started with a visit to Jasper, Georgia – which is a beautiful town outside of Atlanta – but it was my visit to the Sunshine State that month which would later lead to a small life lesson about the power of art!!
During this fall trip, my mother and I were doing our normal shopping when I stumbled upon this HUGE print of a painting from the Dutch artist Piet Mondrian.
It was on clearance. I snatched it up.
At that time, it was actually my “art teacher” side that appreciated Mondrian’s abstract work, which fit so well into yearly art lessons. His latter paintings are great references for teaching about primary colors, use of line, shapes in art, etc. – and so I thought having this huge, wall-sized print would give art students a chance to feel the art, more than they could from viewing smaller copies or digital prints.
However, I bought it so quickly – to where I completely forgot that I was traveling by plane! Oops.
My mom and I were discussing what to do, when my Aunt Maxine walked in the room and noted that she just so happened to have the perfect spot for it! Maxine’s en suite, which was actually filled with bric-a-brac galore, had this nice empty wall – right near the bathroom door. So the Mondrian print was hung that day – and I went on my way!
A few years later, we took our annual trip to Florida and ended up stayed at Maxine’s while she was up north. We had to rush our trip dates up (for a few reasons – and one was so we could see my step-daughter while she was playing volleyball in Orlando, about an hour away) and well, it was horrible timing. Now grant it, the trip got better near the end and the boys loved their week of surf camp, but it was a headache – rushing to pack, getting there, settling in the first few days, taking care of matters (via phone) that could not be postponed, and to top it off, I was low on sleep because it was the end of the school year.
Here is where “Maxine’s Mondrian” comes in.
Each morning, I awoke to that beautiful, wonderful, wall-sized piece of art! The one I originally bought to move students, well now it was moving me! In this particular print, there was red, yellow, and blue – but I also had the chance to absorb the subtle grays and different whites too. Also, the rich, black, stabilizing lines that Mondrian painstakingly perfected, had a stabilizing effect on me. It was not until the end of the trip that I realized how this art impacted my mood. Now yes, the east coast sunrises were enjoyable – and being about 100 steps from the beach helped — and of course having extra time to pray and sleep in were key -but the power of art is something that you can only appreciate when you feel it for yourself!
Mondrian once said, “The position of the artist is humble, he is merely a channel….” – and even though I had taught more than a dozen Mondrian lessons and helped hundreds of students make their version of primary-colored grids, his work never communicated to my soul until I lived with Maxine’s Mondrian for a week straight. (Side note here, I really believe that God – the master artist – knew it all!! – He not only knew that I would buy the print that day in November, and that years later I would benefit from where it was hung – but He also knew that Mr. Mondrian would use planes and intersecting perpendicular lines to create art that would branch out into the world with a special touch!)
So wherever you are, I encourage you to make sure you have at least a few pieces of interesting art in your house! It could be your own work, store bought prints or any art that moves you….or better yet, maybe you could collect a few pieces from local artists, which supports the working artist efforts while it also adds beauty, richness, and interest to your house!
It may take some experimenting, and you may even want to set up a space where you can rotate some art pieces in and out, but you are missing out on something very special if you do not have wonderful, powerful art to accompany you on this life journey.
….. Life can be hard, but A R T makes it….. better!!!
~Check out one of Mondrian’s popular pieces, Broadway Boogie Woogie, located in NYC at MOMA
~Older students may enjoy reading Mondrian’s bio– which includes wartime moves that took him to Paris and London, and then dancing to the Broadway Boogie Woogie music in NYC! Also, great artist for noting how artists change and evolve – (i.e. discuss how and when he moved away from using green)
~Go here for elementary lessons and free grid downloads.
~more About Mondrian (From Tate): “Mondrian’s interest lay in the abstract quality of LINE, but by 1914 he had all but eliminated the curved line from his work. By 1916 he had suppressed any sense of a subject. Still later he developed a new form of rigorous abstraction called Neo-Plasticism in which he limited himself to straight, horizontal and vertical lines and basic primary colours. Typically his compositions were not symmetrical but could scarcely be purer in their elements. He felt this art reflected a greater, universal truth beyond everyday appearance (April, 2013).”
~Check out art quotes of the day, a wordpress blog