Monday, February 19, 2007

The Van Gogh Project Continued Even More


"The Secret Wood"
15 x 30" I think - acrylic on canvas.
Click here to buy.

Okay, I've finally gotten around to the Van Gogh Project again. If you aren't a regular reader of the blog (and why the heck wouldn't you be, anyway?), every month in 2007 me and my friends from Fine Line Artists are learning all we can from one safely dead and very famous artist. January was John Singer Sargent (great stuff!) and February is Vincent Van Gogh. And of course any other artists who blog are always invited to join in and we'll spread the links around. Good times, good times.

I admitted previously that I didn't find Van Gogh as artistically energizing as Sargent. No, it's not the ear thing. Or the relationship with the prostitute thing. Or even the whole shooting himself thing. No, it's an entirely artistic roadblock for me: I found I didn't really like a lot of his paintings. I mean, some were really good, but it didn't speak to me in that thrilling way Sargent did. Hence my stalling until nearly March to do my Van Gogh painting.

Before I talk about what I learned, I want to give you two links that I was perusing this morning in my research of Van Gogh.

Both of these explain a bit about his techniques.

So, you see my Van Gogh painting above. How did I arrive at it? Well, I learned the following things about good ol' Vincent's work:

  • he wanted viewers to learn something about him from his paintings; they had emotional attachments/ meanings
  • his colors more often found their basis in emotion than in reality; objects were the color he needed them to be to convey his message
  • his painting technique was fast -- sometimes as fast as one a day towards the end of his life
  • his painting technique was sculptural. in one of his letters to his brother, he notes that he squeezed paint directly out of the tube onto the canvas to achieve the 3D effect he wanted
  • he used a lot of the new lightfast paints that were being developed at the time -- bright yellows in particular
So keeping this in mind, I decided to paint an image out of a dream I had a few years ago -- a birch wood that had no other features other than pale birches as far as the eye could see, all in shades of yellow, peach, and orange. I used some photographic references for the pattern of the birch bark, but the composition and colors are entirely out of my head.

I used a ton of paint for this. I really hope I sell this painting quickly so that I can afford to buy four gallons of white paint to replace what I used. Okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but I really slapped on that paint to emphasize the birches.

And I did this fast. Once I knew what I wanted to do and had the composition basically mapped out in my head, I sat and painted for four hours straight.

So I know it's not perfect Van Gogh style -- more like a love child between my style and Van Gogh. But now it's out of my system . . . though I have to confess, it's still not quite like what I imagine that birch forest to be like. I'm going to have to do another version, maybe with next month's artist . . .

So if you're not sick of Van Gogh yet, these are the artists who participated this month, you can check 'em out:

Katherine Tyrrell

Rose Welty
Wendy Prior
Lisa Bachman
Casey Klahn
Rita Woodburne
Robyn Sinclaire
Kate Hummel
Nicole Caulfield
Gayle Mason

Casey is making the best of it so far, I think, followed by Katherine. They get the GUNG HO award from me. That and a buck will get you a cup of coffee.

Oh, and I also painted Moose again today:

"Homecoming" - 6 x 6" acrylic on canvas.
Copyright 2007 Maggie Stiefvater.
Click here to bid.


Susan Borgas said...

Golly Maggie I reckon you have nailed it! It is hard to believe that the painting on the mantle is the same as the one you are showing a little side on. Your values show truth that the birches are round with a lot of depth as well; also the colours are beautiful. Wow is all I can say!

Katherine said...

That looks pretty much like a Van Gogh cat to me! ;)

MrsSnowy said...

The birches are wonderful - makes me want to hug a tree! I think I'm way too mean to ever paint impasto - I can keep a tube of watercolour going for years - mostly by not painting for years. Your colours are toasty and your texture so buttery - warms me up just looking at it.