Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Advancing to Solids..oh, and VanGogh

"Bill, the Hay Mauler" ACEO can be bid on here.

Welcome back, dear reader. So there's many an update today as it seems that my Wisdom tooth thwarted me yesterday. Fortunately, it also gave me time to think and expand on my VanGogh plan of action. On the plus side you'll be happy to know that after 2 1/2 days of eating soup and oatmeal I moved onto solids tonight, a quiche! Okay, so semi-solid...but not completely liquid and that's what really matters because it means that the growth spurt is coming to an end!

So you're looking for sketches. You're looking for this landscape that will ultimately be transformed with a VanGogh-esque flavour. Well, keep looking. In my widsom tooth pain induced revelation I decided to save the sketches, WIP and final work for next Wednesday, the final day of February and the VanGogh project. I've decided on the landscape and I've done the sketching (much to my protesting) and on Friday or Saturday I will start the "official" project. Why so late? Well, as has been pointed out VG was not exactly one for dragging things out. As a matter of fact, in his last year of life on this ball of dirt and water we call Earth, he produced approximately 1 painting per day. Not some teeny-weeny little painting either, it was usually a larger canvas just plastered with paint (he wasn't stingy with supplies either). On that note I've decided to also attempt to do this work in a shorter amount of time than I'd normally allow myself...aaaand to keep it even more interesting I haven't even decided what medium I'm going to use! What can I say? I like living on the edge...kinda.

So for our VanGogh infusion of the day I've decided to concentrate on not his landscapes or still lifes, but rather specifically his self-portraits:
It's said that in his 37 some-odd years he produced 40 self-portraits (again, that we know of). His reason for doing this is that in order to produce some sort of an income he figured that doing portraits of people would be a good way to make some $$'s while working on those things that inspired him. What better way to demonstrate an artist's ability to render likeness than to do a self-portrait? I mean, let's face it, if you bugger that up no one's going to pay you to do an exact likeness of their Aunt Fanny, right? So below you'll find a few of VG's self-portraits (in chronological order):

The first being a work done from his very early days when he was still working very closely with a Dutch palette, dark, dark and more dark. He was also going for the (somewhat) dignified appearance that a portrait should depict of its subject. Not really realism but rather realism embellished. It's the same way that models get their pictures airbrushed before it's published to a magazine. You know, to hide those nasty liposuction surgery scars and all...
The second was done as 'VanGogh, the Artist'. This wasn't meant to be glamourous by any stretch of the imagination and was rather done seemingly as an indulgence on VanGogh's part. 'Look, I'm an artist. I paint and I paint well.' That's what this self-portrait seems to say. 'I can paint you too in a real life setting, for the right price.' That's the other thing this piece says to me. What's worth noting about this one is that it's a very distinct departure from the earlier piece and this one is very much identifiable as VanGogh. The short brushstrokes, the use if colour and, well... the artist.
The last one was done during VG's 'Japanese' period when Japanese art was all the rage in Paris. He had become entranced with the flat perspective and shapes as well as bright, solid colour of the Japanese art. It would seem that he was quite taken with Japan and it's culture as a whole. After he had painted this self-portrait he told his brother, Theo, that he wanted to have the appearance of the Japanese by portraying himself as bald, in a robe and having his eyes slanted ever so slightly.
The last one I'm posting is the last self-portrait (...again, that we know of) of VanGogh before he did himself in:

This one is very VG. The swirly background, the mis-shapen jacket, the contrast of colour, etc. It's estimated that this piece was done early-mid 1890, which would be very close to his demise. What I think is worth noting about this final self-portrait is that in the previous portraits while he doesn't always look 'happy' per se, there is some sign of life, warmth and enjoyment. This piece is cold and (pardon my philisophical ramblings) completely devoid of happiness. He looks fed up.

I'll leave it at that for VanGogh, something to chew on.

On a related note I'll be updating the list of participants on this project so if you're on this wacky ride and want to have others join in on your explorations just drop me a line with your name and blog address and I'll add you to the list!

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