Swindoll Story (art by Matisse, O’Keeffe, Rothko -Part 3)

Old Priorhouse Post from 2014

Last night, after I posted my sneaker photo for the WP challenge on perspectiveit reminded me of a powerful little “perspective story” I heard a while ago and I thought I would share it here.  I also want to show you how three artists*(Matisse, O’Keeffe, and Rothko) see the color RED in different ways!

red paint on canvasFirst, the Swindoll Story: 

During the early 1990’s, I used to listen to Chuck Swindoll’s daily radio program (mainly while driving to and from work).

One of his analogies for “perspective” came from a “lesson” he learned while giving a weekend talk in a certain city.  Here is the short version.

The first night that Chuck was teaching, a couple came down to the front and during his talk, the husband fell asleep.  It was a little annoying to him, to talk and look down and see the guy asleep, but he blocked it out and continued.  However, the next night, the couple came in AGAIN.  And again – the same thing happened – the guy fell asleep!  Chuck shared the thoughts that went through his head.  For example, he wondered if the wife of this man had “pressured” him to come (dragged him there) and well, Chuck admits that he was irritated.  And as a public speaker, I can relate to this because all speakers like to engage their audience – and come on now, who wouldn’t be annoyed with someone sleeping – right in the front row?!

However, after the message, the couple came to the side area where Chuck was greeting people and they waited in line to speak with him.  It turns out, the guy was actually a huge fan, but he had a type of illness that caused him to doze off and sleep!  And to think that Chuck was annoyed because he had “assumed” that this guy was bored or even dragged to the meeting, but that was not the case.

Chuck went on to share about just how WRONG our perceptions might be at times.  It is just a humanity thing!  Sometimes we are right on when we “see” something – I mean, really right on –  and it is a good thing to have discerned this or that.  However, other times, we are NOT so spot on – and even folks that are really good at “reading” people, well they can be completely wrong at times.

~Also, did you ever notice that sometimes our perceptions are not only wrong, but they can also have a negative slant?  This is even worse for those folks that have a continuous “critical spirit” (usually from unresolved anger or just sloppy self-awareness). And well, I think a critical spirit is a very destructive quality.

Anyhow, the next time you perceive something – be very careful before you assume or make judgements.  You may need more information to have a clearer picture.  Make sure you have enough of the details – because you just may be wrong with your initial impressions.  Get details, get facts, and it also would be advantageous to see if you are maybe seeing with a negative filter….

Now – the ART!

I find it very interesting that Rothko, Matisse, and O’Keeffe each used the color “red” in different ways.  And because of “artistic license” the artist can use the colors ANY way they want.

In these 3 paintings, with Red in the titles, well it seems as if all of them work more in the realm of orange, which sits between red and yellow on the color wheel.

Take a look at the art and then read the quotes from each artist.

Rothko, Matisse, and O'Keeffe use the color red


Georgia O’Keeffe said: 

“You [hang] all your own associations with flowers on my flower … AS  IF  I think and see what you think and see of the flower – and I don’t.”  (This was said to reject the notion that her flower paintings were female body part metaphors.)  She also said:

“A flower is relatively small. Everyone has many associations with a flower – the idea of flowers … So I said to myself – I’ll paint what I see – what the flower is to me, but I’ll paint it big and they will be surprised into taking time to look at it – I will make even busy New Yorkers take time to see what I see of flowers.”

Henri Matisse said: 

“Where I got the color red—to be sure, I just don’t know,”     “I find that all these things . . . only become what they are to me when I see them together with the color red.” (He said this about his “The Red Studio” painting.)

Mark Rothko said:

The People who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when I painted them.  And if you, as you say, are only moved by their color relationships, then you miss the point!” (He said this at some time – I just do not know when.)



In closing, because many of us appreciate Van Gogh’s work – I thought I would include this lovely orange-ish painting as well:

The Old Tower in the Fields    by Van Gogh (July, 1884)

For more on the color orange, see the Joy of Color blog.

Also, here is a nice example of color grounding with burnt umber/sienna.

*This is actually part 3 for referencing the artists Matisse, O’Keeffe, and Rothko – because last month I highlighted this trio twice.

Have a nice Saturday!



Author Update:  Check out this post by Earthquakeboy –  a cool monkey post with some orange-ish wood (the warm colors are following me this week!!!)




33 thoughts on “Swindoll Story (art by Matisse, O’Keeffe, Rothko -Part 3)

  1. Wonderful post. The other day I was with my small one down to the doctor (a day or two after your previous post about Rothko) and surprise-suprise there were three posters by Rothko hanging on the wall, one of them being the one you posted then and one the one you post now!


      1. I was so surprised that I took a photo, but can’t seem to find the attach button to upload a photo. Anyway, it was a blue composition. And the mind plays dirty tricks, the other works had the colours mentioned but not the same works apparently…


      2. well the mind does play tricks – but I also think that Rothko’s works sometimes overlap a bit. For example, the painting that I featured here, (Red, Orange and Yellow) well there are also many more pieces with that palette (and actually Vass, I think you probably know more about Rothko than I do), but I do know that his works with this orange-ish hue include Orange and Yellow; No. 5/No. 22; Untitled,1961; Orange, Red, Orange (which I really like); and No. 8 – (and likely more)!


  2. hmmm I was thinking of the teaching part of the challenge this week. you and Swindoll nailed it! Thanks for your encouragement – so welcome today 🙂


  3. Such a true story about perception. Too many people take their own perception of something as gospel and really miss the mark. Anyway, I enjoyed the artwork and quotes. I especially like Georgia O’Keefe! Thanks! 🙂


  4. Anything on the red end of the spectrum seems to trigger emotional responses in many people — passion, warmth, anger, danger, comfort, spirituality — and your choices for this post have had their effects on me too.

    Particular as I’ve seen exhibitions of work by these artists, in the flesh as it were rather than just as reproductions: Rothkos in Tate Modern in London, O’Keeffes in Bristol’s Arnolfini gallery and a whole host of Impressionists in Paris’ Musee d’Orsay.

    There’s nothing like seeing pictures ‘live’ for altering our perspectives — and precipitating emotions. Thanks for sharing these and your thoughts on them.


    1. Well said Calmgrove – and I have seen some of the works live and in person -but look forward to seeing more (even though some museum visits are overstimulating for me – so much art to try and take in….) but I fully agree with you and like how you worded it:
      “nothing like seeing pictures ‘live’ for altering our perspectives — and precipitating emotions.”

      also with seeing the live works – well not only can you feel the piece more – because it is to scale and you can appreciate textures and just “see” and feel more (and all that), but when we see original works – we like to look at it from different distances. Like we first view a piece close up, then a few feet away, and then from very far away – to just see different things within the entire composition.

      well thanks for taking the time to comment – 🙂


      1. Art is such a sensual thing, isn’t it? It can go straight to our instinctual self, and we inadequately put it into words afterwards. Agree totally about the immersive experience of appreciating art live.


    1. Thanks Jake – and I am pondering my transportation photo for your challenge this week – have a nice Monday my friend. 🙂


  5. Yeah, I know March is over, but… I can’t pass up this opportunity to say am so happy you posted the quote of O’keefe about her flowers. I didn’t know about that quote, but I always defended her when people put her in the erotic category, because I knew instinctively that it was not about that at all.
    Haven’t pursued studying Rothko more, but I like what I see!


    1. Thanks so much Jesh-stg!! Well I was looking for a recent painting in your last post but could not find one! 😉 jk.

      Well thanks for leaving this comment – and it reminds me about how much there is to learn when it comes to art – so much to uncover and so many layers to peel back and explore – and well, I am glad that we can do that through sharing blog posts too – just makes life bit more fun, eh?
      Have a great week – 🙂


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