One of my sons came home when he was in 1st grade and proceeded to ask, “Mommy, am I related to van Gogh” – well, you do have red hair, but sorry son, no. But one relative in my husbands family was quite the painter in the 1900’s. Maurice van Essche was born in Belgium, but moved to South Africa after the war and he had the great fortune to study under Matisse. The story goes that they met in the Art supply shop in Nice, France. Both artists were after the same tube of “jaune citron” oil paint, which Matisse had just bought. Being the perfect gentleman, Matisse graciously invited Maurice to come and paint and share his paint. Paint they did.
Maurice painted still lives, and tribal images, he used rich color in a modern way. The shapes are strong and painted in a graphic way. He too learned to paint like Matisse in a classical studio setting but they both agreed that freedom of expression was found in painting clean and simple shapes, bold colors and a love for nature. While visiting the Matisse Museum, I could only imagine what fun they must have had sharing paint. Next time you make a trip to your art supply store, pay close attention to who is shopping next to you.