Monday, April 28, 2008

Vincent van Gogh

"We spend our whole lives in unconscious exercise of
art of expressing our
thoughts with the help of words."

Vincent van Gogh

Did you know that van Gogh only sold ONE painting during his lifetime???
Did you know that van Gogh's life ended when he tragically shot himself in the chest?
Did you know that van Gogh painted Starry Night while residing in an "asylum?"

I never knew that.
I've recently acquired a fascination with the work of Vincent van Gogh. After I selected his painting Iris for my fractured art quilt I have been picking up books at the library , and doing a bit of internet research on van Gogh's life and body of work. It is a triumphant and tragic story -- the story of van Gogh's Life and death. (van Gogh)
With the exception of a few drawing and pottery classes, and one university art appreciation class -- I have no formal "fine arts" training, however I am able to recognize certain styles, movements and genres in the visual arts movement. What I love about Van Gogh's work is his combination of extraordinary color usage and shortened (impressionistic) brush strokes -- which blend together and make his vivid imagery come alive with movement and texture.

I think what inspires me most about his work is that it is so "uniquely" his. We have a wonderful art museum here in Raleigh, and I have to admit that even after umpteen visits, I still have difficulty at times identifying with certainty the work of many particular artists when co-mingled with similar technique. Even with the unique styles of Monet or Matisse, I still confuse their work on occasion, with other artists. But van Gogh -- ah, now his work is so very unique in every conceivable way that it would be impossible to mistake it as belonging to any another.

As a fiber artist, when I look at van Gogh's paintings I can see his bold landscapes emerging from co-mingled pieces of fabric and his brush strokes transformed into thread painted images. Much like what I (we) did with Iris, but on a more intricate level. I can also see his wonderful paintings (like Starry Night) being transferred into magical beaded images, or embroidered images. Sabrina and I were even talking about how some of his work (like Sunflowers) would lend itself wonderfully to carved clay slab landscapes or still lifes -- with the carvings from clay tools simulating his elevated, short and highly textural brush strokes and layering on the color with bold, high gloss glazes. Do you see the endless possibilities here?

Which van Gogh is your favorite? How would you go about interpreting it in "your" medium?


Clevelandgirlie said...

I admit it -- I do love Starry Night -- it's mysterious dark image and the biblical connotations of the stars are very intriguing and spark the imagination. I also love The Mulberry Tree and all of the Wheat Fields paintings. The Mulberry tree is a simplistic painting in as much as the tree alone grasps at our attention with its winding and expressive branches.

Now, it's YOUR turn....

Nellie's Needles said...

I was fortunate to see the exhibition of Van Gogh's paintings at the Art Institute in Chicago a number of years ago. The one that grabbed hold of me was his sunflowers. But it wasn't the sunflowers that took my breath away, it was his sky. It was so alive with brush strokes and bits of color in the blue. I left wanting to interpret his sky in fabric. Of course, the yellow and orange of the sunflowers contribute to making the blue sky dazzle. So I had to include those as well. See it here:

There's a young Italian quilter, Nadia, who has interpreted the cafe at night. See it here:

Cestandrea said...

Hi Cathie, I love all his paintings, I have been especially loving one, (from the age of 13:) , a simple interior with a bed and two chairs, those chairs I love them:)

It is beautiful, the way your art has connected you with Van Gogh. I always find this fascinating, to get drawn in to a subject while we are working on it, and to approach new or ancient artists, to be part of a whole.
have a wonderful day

Clevelandgirlie said...

Andrea -- Sabrina and I saw the most magificient interpretation of van Gogh's bedroom at the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival. I wish I would have taken a picture of it for you - had I known. Have you ever interpreted something of van Gogh's?

Nellie - your sunflowers are spectacular. You caputured the texture with amazing detail. Did you keep this piece or was it a comission? I also looked at Nadia's cafe - wow! I'm really inspired now. Thanks for sharing these with us.

3rdEyeMuse said...

I love his brushstrokes and the thickness of paint on his canvas's, too. For me, it's a toss up between "Cafe Terrace on the Place du Forum, Arles, at Night" and "Almond Blossom" - both just have a special feel about them. I imagine that you've already come across it, but just in case, check out the Van Gogh Museum:§ion=sectie_museum - you can view the permanent collection online and they have it set up to zoom - simply amazing. :)

I think (if I were brave enough) I would like to attempt to do "Almond Blossom" in beads on a simple piece of linen ...

Anonymous said...

Interesting article on Van Gogh. I love his work, but I am partial to Picasso's Guernica. Thanks for sharing your love of Van Gogh.


Pursuing Art... said...

Oh Cathie...what a wonderful post! How can we pick a favorite!?! I love Starry Starry Night, Starry Night over the Rhone, The Sower, all the flower paintings and the wheat fields too! For me it would be easier to pick the couple paintings that I don't care for, than all the ones that I do! ;-))

I would love to try beading a piece one day! That would be a fun challenge! Imagine all the shades of colors you could use!

I'm looking forward to seeing your iris slice when you are finished. It is already beautiful and adding those crystal beads will really make it sparkle! Do you know Swarovski makes a 2 mm faceted round bead now? They have crystal clear and a crystal AB (Aurora Borealis)! They would be stunning!

Thank you for sharing! Lisa

Parapluie said...

Vincent van Gogh is a favorie of mine too. Fiber reproductions of religious paintings used to be more valuable than the originals. Go for making more quilts and fiber work from van Gogh's paintings. Some of my own painting movement is from an admiration of his work.

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