"The essential thing is to work in a state of mind that approaches prayer."
My own art practice is a spiritual one; art-making is a wonderful way to feel close to God. I believe this is a possibility open to everyone. With this in mind, I lead a monthly art class for the kids' Sunday School at my church. The results are always delightful!
In February, we tried "painting with scissors," as Matisse called it. I showed the kids a lot of Matisse's paper cut-out collages from a big book I had, and then we started playing around.
My understanding is that Matisse was not particularly religious. As an adult, he identified more with Buddhism. Later on, after his cancer and painful surgeries, near the end of his life, he may have had another rebirth of faith.
But regardless of whatever you want to call it, it seems clear to me that a joyful, creative, colorful spirit was present in his art throughout his entire life.
You can't force feelings of a spiritual nature, but you can try to be open to the possibilities. Making art is the best way I know how to open my heart, to let go of my ego, and give way to something even bigger than myself.
"I have been no more than a medium, as it were." -- Matisse
Another blog post about Matisse: "With a Light Heart"