On her blog "Following the Masters", Michelle Burnett creates a monthly internet challenge for artists. This month's challenge is to copy or paint in a style like Vincent Van Gogh. There are many romantic myths about Van Gogh, however, I mostly think about his ability to use dynamic color and his creation of an 'unforgettable style' in his paintings. He was a true master of his craft. Most of his success was gained due to the amount of sketching that he accomplished. It reminds me of how important sketching is to improving and to 'seeing' what you want to communicate in your art. To assist him at his easel, he kept a 'perspective frame' made from a small wooden frame with strings stretched across it - a visual grid.
The National Gallery of London found these nine colors in an 1889 Van Gogh landscape:
zinc white, cobalt blue, ultramarine, emerald green, viridian green, lead white, chrome yellow, chrome orange and vermilion. I attempted to create my painting using these colors on my pallette. His stable of colors were even less numbered in his earlier years. Actually, I am sure they didn't have a color named "chrome" anything in 1889 since chrome plating was first used on the Model A in the 1920's. But I imagine the color they are looking at on his 1889 landscape, LOOKS like chrome yellow and chrome orange. One can appreciate how far modern chemistry has improved color brilliance and viscosity in oil paint, although I imagine paint of those days were much more organic than now.
To me, one of his biggest contributions to the Impressionists Movement was his use of 'broken color'. This is where he laid two (often complementary) colors next to one another - unblended. The viewers eye would then, mix the colors - from afar. Look closely at some of his tree paintings, and you will see the placement of these dabs of side by side complementary colors. (OK, so my colorwheel was spinning and spinning on this one.)
Perhaps the saddest part about his life is he only sold one painting during his lifetime. One of my favorite reads is "Lust for Life" (about Vincent) by Irving Stone. A movie was made with Kirk Douglas which follows the book, but like many movies, the book is 'way' better. Yes, he lead a tragic and painful life, but the beauty he must have seen to paint as he did, indicates there was something more to him than is written.
6" x 6"
oil on wrapped canvas
In painting this one, I looked at two of his "chair" paintings, "VanGogh's Chair" and "Gauguin's Chair", taking the elements I liked in each and used my own chair for the prop. After looking at the photo, there are some things I didn't do quite "VanGogh-ish" enough. His outline of his subject was a thinner/darker line. I think perhaps the small size of my canvas compromised that bold outline from happening. This one was a fun challenge. I think I could paint like him - alot...because I like that outlining and the more limited palette. His perspective is interesting to study, also.