Wednesday, January 30, 2008

And So It Begins...

"End of the Day" can be bid on here.
5x7, coloured pencil on Mi-Teintes
Copyright Rita Woodburne

"Looky Lemur" ACEO can be bid on here.
Copyright Rita Woodburne

Today’s the day! That’s right, today’s the day I’m starting my Van Gogh project and I’ll be up front in stating that I don’t have a solid set of goals for this project because 1- I’m more of a ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ kinda person (although my New Year's resolutions would belie that) and 2- I’ve found that the best growth I’ve experienced comes when I let the universe unfold as it will instead of bogging myself down with checklists and criteria.

That said, what I do have a list for are the things I’d like to cover/ address over the next couple of months based on VG’s artwork. First and foremost is colour as this was a major issue for me last year when I did the project. Second is sketching ( have a gander at Monday’s post so you know where I’m going with this). Thirdly I’d like to touch on still-life's as this was part of my New year’s resolution and since still-life was a popular subject with VG I suspect I’ll be able to find some decent material to look at and analyze. I’m also going to leave it open-ended in that I’d like to give myself the freedom to explore other possible subjects pertaining to VG as they come up throughout the project.

So, to get started I’m going to dedicate this post to giving you, dear reader, a background on Van Gogh and why he liked to eat his paint so much.

Van Gogh was born on March, 30th of 1853 to parents Anna Cornelia, who was the daughter of a book-binder and Theodorus who was a Dutch Reformed Church pastor. Only a year earlier, on the same day to be exact, an elder sibling passed away (was still-born) whom Van Gogh’s parents had also named Vincent. The baby was buried on their property and Van Gogh was privy to having to see that grave everyday which, and I’m just speculating here, may have given him a smidgen of a complex.

Van Gogh had several siblings but was closest to his sister Willemina (more affectionately known simply as ‘Wil’) and, more well-known, his brother Theo who would ultimately financially support Vincent for most of his adult life. Both were employed by Goupil and Co., a prominent art dealership, but it was Theo who made his mark in that company whereas Van Gogh left a rather bitter taste in their mouths with his out-spoken nature and critique of patrons’ art choices and the business dealings of Goupil.

Over the course of his art career he lived in both Belgium, England and France and the majority of his more notorious works come from his time in France when he not only lived with Gauguin, another well-known Post-Impressionist painter, but also spent some time living with a prostitute and spending a good amount of time living in mental institutions where, ironically enough, he created some of his most serene works. It was in July of 1890 that Van Gogh shot himself in the chest in an attempt at suicide. Unfortunately he did not die instantly and it was ultimately where the bullet was lodged, just below his heart, that did him in. The only consolation that Van Gogh may have had in his final hours was that his beloved brother, Theo, was at his bedside to see him off.

In his brief 37 years he managed to create hundreds of paintings and drawings, although there may have been many more as his mother had disposed of many of his works as she neared her own death. Today, his paintings easily fetch in the millions of dollars but for an artist the real perk from his works comes not from their monetary value (although who wouldn’t love to have one of those hanging in their living room to show off?) but from the scores and scores of work left behind and the letters and journals to explain what was going on in Van Gogh’s mind as he was creating his works. With all that information at hand it really is like having a master right there studying with you, but without the rapping on the knuckles with a ruler when you screw up.

So this is part one of...well, I don’t know how many parts. I’d like to make a point of touching on this project at least once a week over the next 2 months and barring any cataclysmic events of earth-shattering proportion I can’t see why that’s not possible.
Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed the brief intro to Van Gogh and below I've included some links to a few sites that have oodles and doodles of info on him if you'd like to read more on him:

The Vincent Van Gogh Gallery

Artcyclopedia article on Van Gogh

Wikipedia article on Van Gogh
- a neat one because they also have an audio file of the proper pronunciation of his last name.

And if you're interested in seeing how I fared last year and to see the landscape I dubbed as 'horrific' (and some other doozy earlier artwork of mine) you can find my posts from February 2007 here. You'll have to start at the bottom and work up.

Back on Friday with some info on me 'cause...I've been tagged!


Casey Klahn said...

I look forward to your VG project!

Rita said...

Me too Casey, I just hope I don't disappoint! :D