Matisse T (and Bonus Eye Candy)

I've become quite enchanted by Henri Matisse since reading Hilary Spurling's wonderful 2 volume biography of him. She vindicates him on the sexist pig front, but more amazingly, brings out what a huge influence textiles had on his art. And his colour sense is astonishing.
So, for the latest Whiplash contest, I decided to create a t-shirt based on the 1947 painting "Palmette", which uses vivid magenta pink on an orange ground.

I used two old plain t-shirts in pink and orange, realising that the two colours create a visual dissonance and have to be just the right distance apart on the colour wheel. Luckily the ones I had were workable. I drew several shapes a la Matisse and when I had what I thought would work, traced them on to Heat'n'Bond. I made the front design different from the back. My pink shirt had a better fit, so I switched the colour arrangement and ironed the design onto the orange shirt. Cut out the shapes, found a placement I liked and bonded them onto the pink shirt.

At this point I saw that the shapes didn't stand out quite enough, so I chose some rich brown embroidery floss and sewed a simple running stitch around the edges. This took a little longer than I thought, but I put the DVD of Casanova on and had a very enjoyable time sewing. (I recommend the movie, I mean my god it's Venice, the cinematography is glorious, the costumes sumptuous, and Heath Ledger is extremely easy on the eyes.)


This should go in the embellish/decorate category.


  1. It looks gorgeus. I could never imagine that pink and orange mixed so well!! Great design.

  2. Wicked T-shirt, hope you don't mind if I copy your idea for myself? I have some Matisse prints and never ever thought of wearing some of the designs. So cool!

    And thanks for bringing Casanova to my attention. Looks like the perfect film for our next girls' night in!

  3. I love love love this!! The colours are amazing together (pink&orange is an underestimated combination) and the shape on front is wonderful. The little deco on the back ties it all together so professionally. Great choice for inspiration, too.

  4. Stunning! I love the pink and orange together - the colors look meant for each other.
    I would have to agree about Heath.

  5. Sure Ann, go ahead and use the idea. Check out his later work, particularly the paper cutouts - they are fabulous for applique.

  6. Anonymous11:51 AM

    yours is my favorite embellishment. it's lovely and simple and divinely inspired, i must say!

  7. Wow, thanks, Bekka!

  8. That is a wonderful t-shirt. Matisse, my art teacher said, is the first artist whose work actually moved him (my teacher, that is).


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