Leave Room For Mystery, Said Henry Matisse

Snoqualmie Falls Washington, watercolour painting debiriley.com

Henry Matisse has many great quotes, but two especially, resonate within me:   “Would it not be best to leave room to mystery?”    and    “I do not literally paint that table but the emotion it produces upon me.”     The spirit in which I paint integrates both of these concepts.

Snoqualmie Falls Washington, watercolour painting debiriley.com
Snoqualmie Falls, Washington “Sah-koh-koh” a watercolour with palette knife using lavender, violet, indigo, sienna by debiriley.com


Matisse painted exquisite colours and patterns, interiors and people, his beautiful painting style has a lasting joyfulness that I find uplifting.  I enthusiastically admire his work, yet – I could never paint just like him.  I can, however,   take on board some of his philosophies!


Snoqualmie Falls, Washington  information

Snoqualmie is the English version of   “sah-koh-koh”  a    Salish tribal   word  which means  Moon.

Snoqualmie  Falls,  Washington state,  USA.    The Falls drops 268 feet,   82 meters over a shelf of tertiary volcanic rock.  Geologist Joe Dragovich and his team discovered that the Snoqualmie Falls flows over the area of a 20 million year old extinct volcano.


This area is a spiritual place to the Native American peoples who lived there, known as “people of the moon.”  It was said to be where “the First Woman and First Man were created by Moon.”   And where prayers are carried up to the Creator.     The Falls is a place of tradition, culture, spirituality and mystery.


Palette Knife Painting

The painting was done using a palette knife and watercolours on dampened Arches CP 100% cotton paper.  (Very important the 100% cotton paper!)    The colours chosen were dominant cools, violets, lavender, indigo, sienna as the time of year I visited Snoqualmie Falls was early winter.

The painting was from a childhood memory when the family drove to Snoqualmie Falls near Christmas time. I think I was about 9 or 10, it was long ago!   I remember the veils of mist rising  in cool violets and umbers against the dark rock escarpment.

I double/triple loaded the knife with colours and glided the knife across the dampened Arches paper smoothly, just barely skimming across the surface.  I used very few strokes, a minimalist approach to suggest winter and space and coldness.   The colours … infer a wintery feel. The white space of the paper, helps balance the design as well as provide more space and coolness.


Snoqualmie Falls,  or  perhaps to call it    “Moon Falls”   ………  for that little touch of mystery!



Published by debiriley

The act of creation, in any media is a fascinating and magical process. I simply love to create. Expressing in color, line, tone, texture - as if, they were words upon a page. Creating a uniquely me, interpretation. Enjoy More of my "one-of-a-kind" expressive art at society6.com/debiriley and, redbubble.com/people/debijriley/shop

7 thoughts on “Leave Room For Mystery, Said Henry Matisse

    1. thank you very much Mary! I adore the palette knife… w/c oils acrylics… it seems to do magic things. Thank you for stopping, looking, and liking – I appreciate it – 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Hi Debi, Lovely. Thank you for showing us the very mystery Matisse was talking about in your own words and art. Best wishes, Leslie

    Liked by 1 person

    1. hey Leslie, thanks for the encouraging words! I’ve been enjoying reading about some of these really Good artists and their ‘quotes’ its been inspiring 🙂


  2. I get so much more from paintings (and any other creative endeavour) when they are not trying to emulate a photograph. “Leave room for mystery” are very wise words. Everyone can then fill in the spaces with their own experiences and thoughts and then everyone sees something different.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. these days, I find myself “remembering” the location, subject and then going from there. It seems to be my Happy Zone 🙂


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