Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Sunflowers - Homage to Vincent
A few days ago, I happened on a blog called, Follow the Masters. http://followingthemasters.blogspot.com/ The most recent challenge was to paint like Vincent Van Gogh. Well, Vincent is my favorite. I have visited the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam twice! So this challenge really excited me. It also sent me out to the garage. Why the garage you ask?
In 1979, I bought a 24 x 30 inch canvas and decided, as an exercise, to paint Vincent's, Still Life: Vase With 14 Sunflowers. (The original painting hangs in the National Gallery in London, where I have visited it several times.) I finished the drawing, and had put in some of the background color, when for some reason, (I can't remember why) I stopped. All this time, the unfinished canvas has been with me. I took it from Michigan, to Hawaii for six years, then here to Colorado, where it has lived high up on a shelf in the garage for the past 12 years. Finally its time had come.
Several days ago, I brought it in, set it on the easel, squeezed out large dollops of yellow and orange on my palette and went to work.
What a joy this was to do. It gave me real insight into how great Vincent was. He was doing something, in a way that no one had done before. I have read the books of his letters to his brother, Theo, and know what a struggle he had each month to get enough money to buy paint and canvas, yet when you do a painting such as this, you realize the amazing amount of paint he used. He didn't conserve, he had to do it his way and if it meant using lots of paint he would, because it was what had to be done.
I have always been rather miserly with my paint, putting too little on the palette, because I didn't want to waste it. Not any more. From now on, I will treat the paint as what it is, a medium to the message, and I will not have any fear.
So, after 30 years, the painting I started so long ago, is done. Thank you, Vincent, for your inspiration.
If you have an interest in Vincent's life, you can do no better than to find the books of his letters. In addition to being a great painter, he was an incredible intellect and writer.
It is sad to think that he only did his art work for 10 years, from the age of 27 to 37, when he shot himself. Imagine the paintings there would be had he lived many years.