Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sunflowers - Homage to Vincent

Sunflowers - Homage to Vincent
24 x 30 inches
Oil on canvas
(c) Bill Brauker

A few days ago, I happened on a blog called, Follow the Masters. 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.


unbearable lightness said...

I love that painting and Van Gogh's work in general. How wonderful that you worked "on it" and were able to get a feel for how he painted! I wish I could do that, too, but it would take another painter to understand.

Barbara Pask said...

Very nice Bill and I enjoyed the story. So sad to think he wasn't appreciated during his life. We are lucky to be able to follow our passion.

Carol Horzempa said...

What a great tribute to Van Gogh! I enjoyed reading about your story of Vincent. I read his letters (must have been the same book) years ago. What a tragic end for such a great artist!

crazy dog lady said...

Hi Bill
I found you via facebook ( I am from Coldwater)and enjoyed your work! I was going to say that your use of color (especially the background colors and textures) reminded me of Van Gogh and then I came to your blog and found your post re him. Great minds and all....
I will keep checking your blog for more of your work! thanks, Kathy

Bill Brauker said...

Lightness, Barb, and Carol, thanks so much for visiting and leaving your kind comments.

Bill Brauker said...

Hi Kathy,

Nice to hear from you. Thanks for your kind comments.

How are things in Coldwater? The last time I was there was in Oct. 2007, when my father died. My sister, Robin Walling still lives there, and I keep meaning to get back there, but will probably wait until next summer now. (Smart thinking, right! August in Coldwater rather than December in Coldwater!)

Have we met before? Are you on Facebook? My page is here, if you want to be a Facebook friend.

Merry Christmas!



DKSmall said...

Bill I am glad you found and finished this. Thank you. Vincent is my favorite painter as well, and loved reading about his life, and his letters. I remember standing over his grave thinking how close I was to him. I get that feeling every time I do impasto work. I am planning on doing a take on Starry Night in a few weeks once one of my easels is free. I am anxious to see what he has been painting all this time.