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A Year of Yes: Show your work – a lesson from Matisse

Pentimento is Italian for “repent” though its colloquial meaning in the art world is a bit closer to “show your work”. If you look at a number of Matisse’s drawings, you can see that he left his erasure marks so that we can see where and when he changed his mind and how often it took him multiple tries to get his work exactly the way he wanted it to be.

When I look at the path of my life, I see many pentimentos, places and traces of changing my mind, trying something new, exploring, and traveling in a new direction. Like Matisse’s sketches, you’ll see the marks if you look closely enough. And that’s okay with me. I don’t erase the mistakes of my life; I just re-arrange them. I put them in perspective. I try very hard to learn from them and be a better version of myself as a result of having lived through them.

I hope that as we begin a new year after what was a very difficult one, we’ll find a way to take a page from Matisse’s book. Let’s make use of our collective pentimentos so that we can craft a much better future together.

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