So this is basically a big fan-girl post because I adore Van Gogh, especially because his life sucked but he still made it beautiful— you can watch the full scene I'm talking about here:
Van Gogh's night sky is a field of roiling energy. Below the exploding stars, the village is a place of quiet order. Connecting earth and sky is the flamelike cypress, a tree traditionally associated with graveyards and mourning. But death was not ominous for van Gogh. "Looking at the stars always makes me dream," he said, "Why, I ask myself, shouldn't the shining dots of the sky be as accessible as the black dots on the map of France? Just as we take the train to get to Tarascon or Rouen, we take death to reach a star."
Season 5 episode 10 of Doctor Who "Vincent and the Doctor" kills me every time I watch it (5 and counting). The last time I watched it I started to cry the moment poor Vincent couldn't even buy a beer as the cafe patrons laughed at his artwork. Doctor Who is always a heart-breaker, but this episode of Van Gogh and the Doctor is just something I can watch over and over again. (but for different reasons than Pitch Perfect. Click here to see what kind of key the Tardis has)
The Doctor: Between you and me, in a hundred words, where do you think Van Gogh rates in the history of art?
Curator: Well... um... big question, but, to me Van Gogh is the finest painter of them all. Certainly the most popular, great painter of all time. The most beloved, his command of colour most magnificent. He transformed the pain of his tormented life into ecstatic beauty. Pain is easy to portray, but to use your passion and pain to portray the ecstasy and joy and magnificence of our world, no one had ever done it before. Perhaps no one ever will again. To my mind, that strange, wild man who roamed the fields of Provence was not only the world's greatest artist, but also one of the greatest men who ever lived.
(Behind him, the time-traveling Van Gogh begins to cry as he hears the words he never got to hear in his lifetime.)
The first time I saw it, I was in this tiny little bachelor apartment, with a sweetheart with a handsome face who would later become my husband, and he said I had to watch it, and since he is the most wonderful person I've ever met, I agreed. Even though I'd watched an episode of Doctor Who with other friends and fallen asleep from sheer boredom.
This episode totally changed my mind about Doctor Who... Watch it now, and I'll wait here to see your reaction. It's a perfect starter episode of Dr Who because everyone understands the Doctor, and the campy monster is just very Dr Who. After I saw this Jeremy and I watched all of Doctor Who and count down to the next episode.... which are all delightful and wonderful like the extra bonus christmas special complete with Flying Fish.
I was once a security guard at a NOFX show. I annoyed my coworkers by wandering over to see them playing instead of standing just-out-of-sight around the corner like I was supposed to. The security guard gig also got me in to see Dreamtheater. Neither band played the songs I knew by them at the shows.
But I would love to have NOFX play this song (A cover of the song Vincent by Don McLean) at one of my future art shows.
Vincent by NoFX
Starry, starry night
Paint your palette blue and gray
Look out on a summer day
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul
Shadows on the hill
Sketch the trees and daffodils
Catch the breeze and winter chills
In colors on the snowy linen land.
Now I understand what you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
How you tried to set them free
They would not listen
They did not know how
Perhaps they'll listen now
Starry, starry night
Portraits hung in empty halls
Frameless heads on nameless walls
With eyes that watch the world
And can't forget like strangers
That you've met
Ragged men in ragged clothes
The silver thorn, a bloody rose
Lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow
Now I think I know
What you tried to say to me
How you suffered for your sanity
And you tried to set them free:
They would not listen
They're not listening still
Perhaps they never will
For they could not love you
But still, your love was true
And when no hope was left inside
On that starry, starry night
You took your life as lovers often do
But I could've told you, Vincent
This world was never meant for one
As beautiful as you.
This song reminds me of wandering around the marshy moors near Hamburg, Germany, in a trip I took to Europe & Rwanda in 2004. There were blackberries, which I merrily ate until our German friend Theresa told me not to because rabid foxes. Oops. That same trip, my friend and I visited the Van Gogh museum Amsterdam and while her feet hurt too much to look at the paintings (I know, what?!!!!!), there were so many wonderful paintings I was just as overwhelmed as adorable little Vincent in the Doctor Who episode. The Van Gogh museum Amsterdam is here.
Five Things I've Learned From Vincent Van Gogh (Quotes)
- Try not to kill yourself because if you're breathing, you are accomplishing your purpose in life. If Van Gogh had offed himself the first time the thought crossed his mind, we would have blank canvases instead of his masterpieces. The thing that makes me BAWL about this episode is knowing that Van Gogh never got to know what he did with his life.
“One must spoil as many canvases as one succeeds with.” —Vincent van Gogh, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, November 26, 1889, to Theo van Gogh
- Express your truth. Even if (others think) your truth is batshit crazy. It is a LITTLE crazy to cut off your own ears, yes? But I don't think Van Gogh was that crazy - this is a fucked up world with little appreciation to go around. Van Gogh was being himself. With an ear, or without it, he did his very best.
“Drawing is the root of everything, and the time spent on that is actually all profit.”—Vincent van Gogh, The Hague, 3 June 3, 1883, to Theo van Gogh
- Learn from nature. Inspiration multiplied by infinity - trying to wrap ones' head around that would make anyone a lil' crazy. What vision he must have had! I wonder if he had an astigmatism like mine? I also see weird halos around objects, and I don't think it's the same as 'auras' - even though I'd like to see those too.
"It is not the language of painters but the language of nature which one should listen to.... The feeling for the things themselves, for reality, is more important than the feeling for pictures."
- Persist despite rejection. And health problems. I can only imagine the fucking devastation of having never sold a painting. I get miserable when I haven't sold a painting in a few months - never-mind my WHOLE LIFE. And pain is a trap; it's a cage that can make working seem impossible. It's so hard to focus. How do you paint when the colors you paint with make you sick? And yet, if he had allowed his health problems to interfere, he could've kept his ear - and lost his place in art history.
“One can speak poetry just by arranging colors well, just as one can say comforting things in music.”—Vincent van Gogh, Arles, on or about November 12, 1888, to Willemien van Gogh
- Keep one friend. Van Gogh and his brother were tight. Van Gogh's brother's greatest accomplishment? Supporting his brother. Even though it must have been a terrible mental burden to have Van Gogh draining his energy constantly, I suppose Theo was happier to have a live brother than a dead brother, yes? One person can make a huge difference for another person.
Occasionally, in times of worry, I’ve longed to be stylish, but on second thought I say no—just let me be myself—and express rough, yet true things with rough workmanship.”—Vincent van Gogh, The Hague, March 11, 1882, to Theo van Gogh
"The uglier, older, meaner, iller, poorer I get, the more I wish to take my revenge by doing brilliant color, well arranged, resplendent."—Vincent van Gogh, Arles, September 9 and 14, 1888, to Willemien van Gogh
What Van Gogh says about his painting illuminates the theory behind his work - imitations of his bright colors and swirly brushstrokes can be found cheaply in any mall or cheap gallery, but when painting like Van Gogh, it is the interpretation of nature with feeling and color on a solid drawing that will really get the emotional, vibrant results you desire.
- It all starts with drawing
- The artist's job is to interpret what is already there - not to make it up new
- Use Your Words: Your Vocabulary is Color
- Listen to Nature more than the advice of other artists.
I hope you enjoyed this as much as I do. Who's your favorite impressionist painter? I consider myself a contemporary impressionist. See if the description fits by checking out my art portfolio!