Monday, November 16, 2009

Studying Van Gogh


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.

"PatRice's Chair"
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.

10 comments:

Mark Bridges said...

It does have that "another time" feel to it. Good one.

Pattie Wall said...

Thanks for noticing Mark. I felt that way about it also. A little over a hundred years...and things are very different in the art world!

Leann said...

I love this one, loved learning about his colors. I did love Lust for Life, the book is WAY better! I've been a huge fan of Van Gogh since I was a kid and mom bought me an artist sticker book, the first sticker was starry night.

Ellen said...

This is so good I can't stand it. I could look at Vincent's works for hours on end and this has the things that appeal to me. Little things, wonderful things. This is excellent.

Pattie Wall said...

Thanks Leann and Ellen. The impressionists movement is one of my favorites of all time, also. I just can't say enough about Vincent's palette and perspective.

Michelle said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
tracywall said...

How cool to stretch yourself to think like a Master. (Not to say that you aren't a master in your own right!) How wonderfully you handled it; love the highlights on the chair. May have to take part in next challenge!

Pattie Wall said...

Aw shucks Tracy, thanks! Hope to see you on the next challenge!

Suzanne DeCuir said...

You have about a million things you are doing - amazing and inspiring. Like your chair painting very much. Could I ask you how you've gone about getting the ads placed on your sites? And have you found the Etsy site to be a good enterprise? THanks for any advice you may have.

Milka said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Alisha

http://sketchingdrawing.com