Gretchen Rubin

A Little Happier: A Perhaps Apocryphal Story about Matisse–About Time and Mastery.

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I don’t remember where I heard or read this story. I may have all the facts completely wrong, this may be utterly apocryphal. I wasn’t able to find a source for it. If you know this story, or the correct version of it, let me know!

But it works so well as a story that I can’t resist telling it, even if it’s likely apocryphal. So here it is.

One day, a client came to the great artist Henri Matisse, with the desire to buy one of the master’s works.

He tells Matisse that he wants to buy something, and Matisse pulls out a sheet of paper, and with a few deft strokes, creates one of his highly distinctive, masterful drawings.

“Ah, beautiful!” says the customer. “How much?”

Matisse names a price  so high that the customer is shocked.

“So much, for just a minute of drawing?” he protests.

“A minute of drawing, a lifetime of practice,” answers Matisse.

I love this story—even though it probably is apocryphal—because it’s a good reminder that we can’t always measure value by time, labor, or visible effort.

Learn more about Henri Matisse's drawings:

Quote From the Podcast

“A minute of drawing, a lifetime of practice.”
- Matisse

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