I didn’t start out the day thinking that I would paint a portrait of van Gogh…but I’ve been thinking a lot about his self portraits lately, especially since seeing a few of them at the van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam this past February. The intensity in his eyes just captures me! So, I went into the art room a week and a half ago, flipped through some images on my iPad, and just got to work…first with a pencil, then with acrylics.
Would you like to see the progression?
This is a mix of van Gogh’s style and mine. A learning experience in those thick brushstrokes and color against color. Of course, I was using acrylics, which is nothing like the medium he used. But still…I felt like I was being taught by a master artist. There is so much I like about the photos of the incomplete painting…the rawness and expression of it. Next time, I will think a little more about how many layers to add, or what to leave alone. I am happy with the eyes though…the way they stare back, and make you wonder what he is thinking.
2015 marks the 125th year since van Gogh’s death, and The Netherlands, France, Belgium and England, will be planning special exhibits in van Gogh’s honor…125 Years of Inspiration. I would like nothing more than to travel around and see each and every one!
I’ve been reading van Gogh’s letters again. So many of them are online now, it is such a treat to see the many sides of this man, in his own words. I especially love the letters to his brother…you can tell there is such affection between the two, and he just pours things out to him. I love reading about his love of painting, and what he observes in the world around him, and in his own progress as well.
A letter to Theo, September 18, 1888 … “Because I’ve never had such good fortune; nature here is extraordinarily beautiful. Everything and everywhere. The dome of the sky is a wonderful blue, the sun has a pale sulphur radiance, and it’s soft and charming, like the combination of celestial blues and yellows in paintings by Vermeer of Delft. I can’t paint as beautifully as that, but it absorbs me so much that I let myself go without thinking about any rule…But my colours, my canvas, my wallet are completely exhausted today. The last painting, done with the last tubes on the last canvas, is a naturally green garden, is painted without green as such, with nothing but Prussian blue and chrome yellow. I’m beginning to feel quite different from what I was when I came here, I have no more doubts, I no longer hesitate to tackle something, and that could increase still further.”
For more of van Gogh’s letters, see this wonderful website...make sure you have time to browse…maybe get yourself a nice cup of tea too.