28 February, 2007
VVG had plenty of that. Sin.
His mother wished him dead well before his actual demise, and his father disowned him.
In the list of shared background that I have with VVG, there is the matter that I have my BA in the Bible and theology. One of the things in the van Gogh story that has been bugging me is the art critics who write the histories of the old boy have him renouncing his Christian faith.
I find no evidence of that. Yes, he most definitely strayed "off the reservation", and had unkind things to say about the church. He cohabits with, and consorts with, prostitutes. Then again, Hosea the prophet (remember, he has a whole book of the Bible) was married to one of those, you may remember.
But I see no renunciation of Christ. In fact, I see evidence to the contrary. Unlike myself, the old boy was a Calvinist. Strictly speaking, these guys think that one is "Once Saved, Always Saved". Which means, once you have been compelled, via Holy Election, to accept Christ, you will not stray, in spite of any evidence to the contrary. For you non-theologically minded, let's put it this way: if you were VG's father, a Calvinist minister, you would believe in the secure salvation of Vincent, no matter what he did after accepting Christ.
His parent's ungracious behavior towards him was understandable, in sociological terms. The first people you lose when you leave behind your sanity are your family. Turns out, more tragically, that many of Vincent's immediate family had dementia in their final days, due to the ravages of syphilis.
Of course, van Gogh is a father of Modernism. Yes, he exalted self, art, and nature. Certainly these things may crowd out the heart's room for God. I see nothing in that, however, to irrevocably overcome his place in the eternal. God knows, not I.
For the irreligious this may be a painful and seemingly unnecessary post. But I don't know how, without bald redaction, one can study the artist van Gogh without his faith, or art history (western) without Christ. It would seem to be impossible.
Certainly, it needs to be said, that the trend among VG's historians to strip him of his salvation is probably ill-informed, at best. I don't think I would be too surprised, standing on the other side, that I should meet the great artist, Vincent van Gogh.
It appears that others have covered this same ground, and agree with my thesis.
This article by Cliff Edwards on VG's faith.
"Few images in modern art have so captured the attention of the public as Van Gogh's Starry Night, a painting that reveals all the light and glory hidden in an ordinary evening sky. In this very readable study of Van Gogh, essentially a spiritual biography, Kathleen Erickson explores the intense spirituality of the painter, from his early religious training and evangelical missionary work to the crisis that occurred when the church rejected his more radical way of following Christ. Erickson argues (against many Van Gogh scholars) that the artist's mature work reflects not a rejection of Christ so much as a rejection of a dogmatic church, seeing instead in the famous images of his art a profound connection to Christian symbols. Throughout, she helps us to discover the source of the power in Van Gogh's stars and sunflowers." --Doug Thorpe in this review of At Eternity's Gate: The Spiritual Vision of Vincent van Gogh.
From Publisher's Weekly:
"Erickson's account of the spiritual dimensions of van Gogh's work is an important corrective to two widespread assumptions: first, that his background was theologically Calvinist; second, that he abandoned religion when he began his professional career as an artist. Drawing extensively on van Gogh's correspondence, Erickson argues convincingly that the so-called Groningen school?(sic) more Arminian than Calvinist?was the foundation for van Gogh's religious outlook and that his abandonment of institutional Christianity (precipitated by disillusionment with his uncle and theological mentor, Johannes Paulus Stricker) was not so much an abandonment of religion as a move to synthesize Christianity and modernity via mysticism. Her discussion of van Gogh's late work is particularly compelling in this regard. Erickson's diagnostic discussion of van Gogh's mental illness is intriguing, though such extended discussion of whether he was epileptic, bipolar, schizophrenic or a combination is more of a distraction than a contribution to artistic or religious appreciation of his work. This work is a lucid and accessible contribution to understanding the religious character of van Gogh's artistic vision."
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. (Pasted from Amazon)
I won't argue the Arminian vs. Calvinist parts, here.
Note: now I still need to post regarding the lessons I learned by "seeing" VG's art, and producing a work after him.
27 February, 2007
$100, Buy it Now
or post a comment to purchase
Plus tax and shipping where needed
I backed off of the desire to "be" VG, and decided to use my own style, plus influences.
Tomorrow we'll put the apparition back in his resting place, beside Theo. With summary. Or, is that eulogy?
Do hop on over to my new blog, 100 Paintings-Colorist Italian Landscapes.
I will be posting a new pastel painting of Italy every 100 hours , with a colorist twist. When I get fully up, I will be putting them up for auction, with a 100 hour duration for bidding. Early viewers will be offered the flat $100 rate, plus tax & shipping.
After the one hundredth painting, I will cease making Italian landscape miniatures.
26 February, 2007
"I have a larger picture of the village church-an effect in which the building appears to be violet-hued against a sky of simple deep blue color, pure cobalt; the stained-glass windows appear as ultramarine blotches, the roof is violet and partly orange. In the foreground some green plants in bloom, and sand with the pink flow of sunshine in it. And once again it is nearly the same thing as the studies I did in Neunen of the old tower and the cemetery, only it is probably that now the color is more expressive, more sumptuous." van Gogh to his sister Wil.
The Old Cemetery Tower at Neunen, 1885
I am indebted to Wikipedia's entry about this image, featuring the letter and the two images that VG is writing about. Also, Katherine Tyrrell brought this church painting to my attention as a possibility for color ideas for my own The Old Man Rounds the Corner pastel.
Remember that you can review VG's letters here, and his paintings here.
Now, I want to list my observations about the church at Auvers by van Gogh:
- As always, VVG describes his paintings more by the color composition than by any other descriptors.
- He has noted two paintings that center and focus on a tall structure. I learned to do this in Italy to succeed in handling complex architectural subjects.
- He eschews perspective by minimizing aerial effects (lighter, less yellow as an object recedes to the background); rather he wants to concern himself with full intensity of color as much as possible.
- I feel that separating compliments, such as orange and blue, or violet and yellow by some intermediate colors or objects, still allows these combinations to pop. Similarity in value helps.
- Character in the structure (is it similar to a person?) is provided by loose rendering, crooked lines, and amorphous masses.
- He uses shadows here, which is less common for him. That's good since I don't use them much, but need to in my painting.
Is the "old world" going around the corner? Is the church relevant to today? What about Italy? What is it's place in modernity? Is my painting too dear, sympathetic or nostalgic? Do those feelings have any place in art, today?
I actually have completed the small sized painting of the old man and bell tower. It, along with 3 or 4 works are ready to be posted, once the photos are produced. But, this smaller one is part of my Colorist Italian Landscapes; 100 Paintings project. I wish to create a bigger one for my VG project.
I am intrigued by Katherine's assumption of the old man's marks and tools. But, I guess I have enough on my plate for now, and will have to be satisfied with discovering his color process in my painting.
25 February, 2007
5" x 4.3"
100 Paintings, Colorist Italian Landscapes
Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy, in the extreme north and in the foothills of the Alps. Go here for press mentioning this artist and the activities I was honored to participate in at Lake Garda. Here is the photo.
See the webcams here. Looks quite rainy today.
23 February, 2007
22 February, 2007
Colorist Italian Landscape
The first Colorist Italian Landscape will be in the collection of Nicole Caulfield
"Ya, Ya," says the old keener. He hatches here, he measures with his pencil and finger in the air; squinting with one eye.
I sip my coffee, made American style. Ahh, life is good...
21 February, 2007
The van Gogh project (VG is always emulated in every work that I do) will be back in full force, soon. The Old Man Rounds the Corner is on the easel, now.
4.5" x 4.75"
100 Paintings - Colorist Italian Landscapes
Framed Size, 10.1" x 10.1"
White Double Mat; Black Wood Frame
First of all, I bow to the one who I understand is the originator of daily paintings blogs, Duane Keiser. He also invented the 100 paintings and the $100 price point. He recently wrote that he expects repetition of his groundbreaking idea of daily paintings and the blog. He says that he appreciates when artists credit his originality, but he notices when they try to "fit" art into the daily blog format. I see the concern.
To be completely honest, I have been sitting on a big stack or two of custom and pre-cut double mats, with frames for 2 or 3 years, now. Framing prices being what they are, it has been a long term goal to utilize that studio stock. Thus comes the 4.75" by 4.5" size of these works.
Years ago, I did small landscapes exclusively. But as I progressed along with my Colorist American Landscapes, I adopted bigger and bigger sizes. It got to the point that I was doing almost nothing in an inexpensive size. That bothers me, since I want everyone to be able to afford original fine art if they want it.
Also, I think that I am now finding my "voice" in realistic Italian landscapes, in pastel.
My own project shall be themed around this number 100. There will be 100 paintings, then it will end. If you want more, that will have to wait for another theme and project.
In addition, each painting will bid at a starting bid of 100 dollars, and the duration of the eBay auction will be 100 hours.
This gets me off of the daily production schedule, and into a sane 3-4 day cycle instead.
The subject matter will be the Colorist Italian Landscape, based on my travel there, and my true passion for the subject.
In my Colorist American Landscapes, the abstract elements are favored over the actual landscape. In the Italian paintings, I return to my realist roots. This move was forced more by the subjects themselves than any other reason. They do, however, contain heavy colorist influences from my past few years' work in colorism.
What is more, I am offering this "patron's preview" to my growing group of viewers here at The Colorist. I will be selling them to the first come, first served at the flat $100 rate. No bids, just contact me at email@example.com, or post a comment, or call at 509-796-3277. Postage to be figured by Federal express air rates.
Break open a bottle of wine, or vino I should say, and enjoy this offering of very whimsical scenery from the country that looks like a boot.
20 February, 2007
In the interests of taking this van Gogh study to the edge, and nudging it over, we introduce:
The Van Gogh Code !
Why does the van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam continue to deny the existence of any photographic evidence of Vincent van Gogh?
Why, when faced with this study of an uncanny photo does the Dutch institution with the most authority decry what may be evidence of Vg's appearance?
Did he ever really exist at all?
How is it possible for a man of his artistic posterity, with a large immediate family of siblings who were close to him, to escape the all powerful lens of the camera?
What skeletons lie beneath the foundations of this great art institution? While we're at it: what does the Louvre know, and when did they know it?
Don't tell anyone, but I have become privy to secret knowledge which indicates that the whole Vincent van Gogh legend is as phony as the moon landings, the death of Elvis, and (fill in your own pet myth).
18 February, 2007
I promised to do van Gogh works from life, and to use his subjects. Then, I also set a goal of producing a painting from one of these sketches.
Although I have been drawing outside, I haven't developed these into finished sketches yet. Stay tuned on that. Also, I have never been to Provence, or the low countries, for that matter. But, I recently did travel to Italy, and so these subjects are as close as I get toVG's subjects. Well, actually, my home shares a lot of geophysical likeness to VG's landscapes. The local wine makers remind me of that on every label.
I had wanted to pursue the Portal drawing as a painting, but it seems to reside in the gray scale world for now. It seems to emanate a lot of power for me just as it is. But, the wonderful scene of an old man rounding the corner on the street in front of the bell tower has potential for a painting. Hello, symbolism. Hello, strong yellows.
Anyway, I offer these drawings as an insight into the process of studying van Gogh.
Do visit Making a Mark, today, if you are serious about looking at VG's color compositions. Plan to take some time pursuing the copious links that Katherine Tyrrell (whom I dub the content queen) provides. I hope you're OK with the nickname, Katherine!
17 February, 2007
Pink with green is a favorite composition for me.
16 February, 2007
Mark blog. Her name is Tracy Helgeson, of upstate New York.
We share an affinity for color fields, barns, and landscapes. See her blog here.
15 February, 2007
The famous Tenth Mountain Division of the U.S. Army fought a battle in North Italy that is fair to describe as the "Monte Cassino of the North". My late father was there. Last year I visited the scene of the battle at a place the Americans named Riva Ridge.
The elite American mountain troopers conducted a night assault, in winter, up a rock face in what amounts to one of the most spectacular actions of the Second World War. Three other major American assaults by seasoned and first-rate units had been repelled by this "impenetrable" Nazi German position. On the top of Riva ridge were the German's elite Gebergsjager - their own mountain troops.
In my drawing is that same building from the old photo. I feature the acute downhill slope towards what is now a garden hut, with a portal through the foliage at the right that leads downhill towards the ravine. In the background, the Riva Ridge ascends towards heaven.
I incorporated some of the VG marks that I have studied, and am using his Garden Cottage drawing as a type of image with copious amounts of foliage, with a structure in the background.
14 February, 2007
He has a nifty view of the self-taught artist, which I quote:
"As a dealer, I’m always most interested in what an artist is creating now, and in what they’ve created in the past. I don’t even care if they’re self-taught, so long as the work is exceptional. Besides, 'self-taught' can place an artist in some very good company, beginning with that tortured Dutchman. "
VG may have "typed" us artists with some bad perceptions, but I don't mind that one, as I am 98% self-taught myself.
Happy Valentine's Day to all of my loyal readers, and to those who arrived by happenstance.
12 February, 2007
In my van Gogh project, to add to my studies, I am choosing his subjects as well. And, his methods of working from life.
It looks like I may have found the painting I'll be working on, based on a photo I took in Italy last year. It's the hardest one I could do, with receding perspective (looking acutely downhill, then continuing up in the background), too much foliage, and other challenges. But, it has the passion! I actually had tears drawing the study.
The Cottage Garden drawing that Katherine Tyrrell posted is a good VG drawing for me to key on, then the opportunity will be to select some good VG colors.
According to one of my sources (Gayford), he would often execute a painting at lightning speed. Brush strokes, intention, gestural movements of brush on canvas. But, he was organized of thought while producing these "fast" works. His sense of composition was pre-ordained by days of thought about what each painting should be.
11 February, 2007
It is the sight of some very high drama in my late father's youth, during that little event called WW II. I visited there last year, and it isn't hard to see why I have so much passion for lovely Italy.
Riva Ridge Operation.
I long ago gave up on cross-hatching with pencils, as I found that varying pressure worked better for me. But, with the influence of van Gogh, I am trying to put it back into my repertoire. It does seem to work better when scanning or printing from pencil.
Also, I don't usually "hatch" trees, but it worked well here to push this one forward.
The wonderful, late Bill Mauldin was not on my conscious mind, but his influence is all over this, too.
09 February, 2007
I also wanted to paste what I said on her posting, since I hear some artists struggling with various issues about van Gogh. My comments follow:
I took my son to the art store and we purchased some varied drawing papers, with tints that put me in the mood for VG drawings. Stay tuned.
Vincent et moi consultent le long des banques de la Seine.
Un bulletin pour des patrons d’art de coloriste sans ArtSpeak
« Hharumphh, » il offre. Peut-être que la blessure de coup de fusil méchante au coffre donne lui à des douleurs. Peut-être que la serveuse française n'a pas apporté à son cappuccino assez vite.
Et là nous avons le coeur du problème avec ces livres concernant le grand artiste ! Ils essayent de l'interpréter par de divers objectifs. Qui peut vraiment deviner son intention dans une oeuvre d'art donnée ?
Gayford, dont recherche et la bourse est en second lieu seulement à ceux qui ont compilé et ont catalogué les travaux complets du VG, a écrit beaucoup que j'aime, et beaucoup avec lesquels je discute.
Discutez-vous jamais avec des auteurs pendant que vous lisez leurs livres ? J'espère ainsi. La pensée critique est une partie essentielle d'étude.
Gayford propose la manie de ce VG, qui est pensée par certains pour avoir été désordre bipolaire (dépression maniaque), est essentiel aux résultats de ses peintures. Mais, il énumère simplement quelques autres artistes, auteurs et les compositeurs qui ont soufferts de cette maladie, sans n'importe quel exemple ou recherche la montrant est des effets sur leur art.
Je pense qu'il doit éliminer si quelconque d'entre ces hommes affligés aurait réalisé les mêmes niveaux sans manie, ou avec la suppression de la manie par l'intermédiaire du traitement. C'est un ordre grand, je savent.
Le travail de Van Gogh's est unique dans l'histoire, et tout à fait irracontable. Personne d'autre sauteront jamais le début le mouvement moderniste, depuis c'est « dans le bidon », ainsi pour parler. Mais, le niveau de la transformation travaillé par l'art du Néerlandais, tel qu'influencer une vingtaine de mouvements de suite, l'ouverture de la manière pour une plus grande abstraction dans l'art, et pour que la permission concentre plus sur la couleur pure que jamais avant, est son seul manteau.
Sa grande influence sur l'art est une échelle de concordance, plutôt qu'un sous-produit d'euphorisme.
Naturellement, son histoire personnelle est plus dramatique, je pensent, que n'importe quel autre artiste un peut penser à. Elle l'a est effet sur l'appréciation du public de lui, et lui même des stéréotypes tous les artistes de quelques manières plutôt sans attrait. Mais, sa postérité est plus une question de l'acceptation de ses travaux par le monde critique d'art, de sa pairie, et du désir faisant rage du marché de rassembler son art. Cela continue à ce jour. J'ose la parole qui si vous trouviez un fourgon Gogh à une brocante à domicile, vous ne s'arrêterait probablement pas à l'exposition de route d'antiquités pour une évaluation. Vous feriez un beeline pour Christie ou Sotheby !
Je labourerai par les travaux complets, maintenant, à la recherche de plus de données sur cet artiste énigmatique. Mais, j'encouragerais
Yellow Photoshops while suffering from Xanthopesia
(Rolling my eyes, and falling on the floor, laughing. Now kicking. Now crying from belly- laughter)
The most preposterous explanation yet of van Gogh's usage of color. If you don't paint the subject by it's local color (it's color in actual reality), then you must suffer from some malady. No, you are crazy. Yes, that's it.
08 February, 2007
"Hharumphh," he offers. Perhaps that nasty gunshot wound to the chest is giving him pains. Perhaps that French waitress hasn't brought his cappuccino quick enough.
And there we have the heart of the problem with these books about the great artist! They attempt to interpret him through various lenses. Who can really guess his intent in a given work of art?
Gayford, whose research and scholarship is second only to those who have compiled and catalogued the complete works of VG, has written much that I like, and much that I argue with.
Do you ever argue with authors as you read their books? I hope so. Critical thought is an essential part of learning.
Gayford proposes that VG's mania, which is thought by some to have been bi-polar disorder (manic depression), is essential to the outcome of his paintings. But, he merely lists a few other artists, authors and composers who have suffered from this disease, without any example or research showing it's effects upon their art.
I think he needs to rule out whether or not any of these afflicted men would have achieved the same levels either without the mania, or with suppression of the mania via treatment. That's a tall order, I know.
Van Gogh's work is unique in history, and quite unrepeatable. No one else will ever jump start the Modernist movement, since that's "in the can", so to speak. But, the level of transformation wrought by the Dutchman's art, such as influencing a score of follow-on movements, opening the way for greater abstraction in art, and for permission to focus more on pure color than ever before, is his mantle alone.
His great influence on art is a ladder of coherence, rather than a byproduct of euphoria.
Of course, his personal story is more dramatic, I think, than any other artist one can think of. It has it's effect on the public's appreciation of him, and it even stereotypes all artists in some rather unattractive ways. But, his posterity is more a matter of the acceptance of his works by the critical art world, his peerage, and the market's raging desire to collect his art. That continues to this day. I dare say that if you found a van Gogh at a garage sale, you would probably not stop at the Antiques Road Show for an appraisal. You'd make a beeline for Christie's or Sotheby's!
I will be plowing through the Complete Works, now, in search of more data on this enigmatic artist. But, I would encourage everyone with a personal interest to look into van Gogh's letters, which are available on the web here. Why not use his own words to tell the story of his art?
07 February, 2007
By way of providing more understanding of the PSA, I will add the following quote. It has some "good to know" statements about the medium that I have chosen to focus on:
“In the third quarter of the 19th
century, Degas’s startlingly
inventive use of pastel, and his
dedication to its brilliance,
beauty and seemingly endless possibilities,
rescued this extraordinary
medium from being relegated to a
footnote in art history. Exit Degas,
and the prominence of pastel was
eclipsed. Until, in the third quarter
of the 20th century, 1972 to be
exact, the reputation of pastels was
revived yet again by the forceful and
farsighted efforts of Flora Giffuni,
who in that year founded the Pastel
Society of America.
This fall, with the stunning
work on view in the Bernhard
Gallery of The National Arts Club,
the Pastel Society of America’s 34th
Annual Exhibition proclaims that
one of our earliest goals — “to focus
attention on the Renaissance of pastel”—
has been successfully
attained. No longer a medium in
search of itself, pastel now stands on
its own as the vibrant, protean material
it truly is. It has matured, proven
its lyrical and muscular talents, and
outstripped the epithet
“Renaissance” that once rightfully
touted the reemergence of a resource
that had been marginalized and misunderstood
for too long. We can
finally get beyond the slightly defensive
impulse to praise a pastel in
terms of how its pictorial qualities
compare to an oil painting, and simply
praise the outstanding qualities
of pastel work.” Diane Rosen, PSA
06 February, 2007
Charcoal on Sketch Paper
05 February, 2007
All drawings, Vincent van Gogh.
Building in Eindhoven (The “Weigh House”), Neunen, Feb., 1885
Snowy Yard, The Hague, Mar., 1883
Garden in the Snow, Neunen, Feb., 1885
Oxcart in the Snow, Neunen, Aug., 1884
Old Man Drinking Coffee, The Hague, Nov., 1882
Five Men and a Child in the Snow, The Hague, March, 1883
Edge of a Wood, Etten, July, 1881
Dance Hall, Neunen, Dec 1888
I've decided to begin my van Gogh project participation by studying some of his sketches. I post a few of my favorites here.
I chose these for the good figure works, and some for the addition of Conte, or colored chalks, and others for the representation of snow. I'll be doing a few snow scenes as well. I tried to stay with graphite or charcoal works, here. One of them may be reed pen, but my sources don't say.
Before I could commit myself to this van Gogh inspired project, I had to clean up my old studio space , which is in the house. It had been half way moved out to my new 12' x 60' studio, which is a surplused house trailer. It is halfway remodeled, and sans electricity.
So, now that I am re-established in my old studio space, I am ready to go with the new works. I will begin with drawing, as it was the foundation of Vincent's work. He almost always worked from life, rather than memory or reproductions. He did do a little of the latter, especially to copy his own studies, or the etchings of other artists that he admired. He was much influenced by Jean-Francois Millet (French, 1814-1875) and Harmenszoon van Rijn Rembrandt (Dutch, 1606 - 1669), who were both good draftsmen.
I seldom work from life nowadays, although I have done much of it in the past. My Colorist American Landscapes are studio works, from the imagination or removed memory. I noticed that for many of the others in this project, the van Gogh study will be a move away from realism. For, me, it will be a move toward realism.
So, I will be drawing from life, as van Gogh did. He not only didn't have the CRT or Photoshop, he really didn't even have the photograph. Photography was new in his day; it represented a challenge to the ageless pursuit of fine art, and what is more I understand that he disliked the evil photo. I share that opinion.
Anyway, I think that it will be hard for one to gain his perspective without going outside, or at least setting up a still life. I will finish the project with painting, however.
Then, also to get close to the keener's (*) motifs, I want to choose the same subjects. Sunflowers, check. Wheat fields, got 'em.. Orchards, check. Marine climate, check. Maritime subjects, check. Sunlight, check-er-rooni. Self for portraits, check.
Wish me luck!
Here are some links that I don't think I saw on blogs of other artists doing this VG project:
Unabridged Letters by or to Vincent van Gogh
Van Gogh at Etten. Interesting and broad based web site.
(*) "Keener" is defined in urban slang as a nerd or eager-beaver. But, I am using it in it's old school definition of one who is keen-edged, knowledgeable; also the Irish give the keener tragic substance.