Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Van Gogh Project Continued

"Between the Lines" - 6 x 6" acrylic on gallery wrapped canvas.
Copyright 2007 Maggie Stiefvater.
Click here to bid.

Well, I've been very slow to get started with the Van Gogh Project this month (see the first of the month's post or round about there) because I have to confess now that I was not initially overly inspired by the Tragic Painter of the Peasants (hey, he said it, not me)(well, not the tragic bit).

And actually, I found it surprising that I was not entirely lit on fire, given what I remembered of his works and how excited I'd been during my Sargent project last month. But Sargent was an entirely different sort of painter - methodical, formally trained, and far more representational than Van Gogh. Easier to like, one might say, both artistically and as a man.

Van Gogh, on the other hand, was self taught, struggling through mountains of sketches and chasing after some sort of self-revealing style that would make his career. To me, he seems less skilled than Sargent and I (this just my opinion here, please don't lynch me) find his style to be forced and heavy handed on many of his pieces. In short, I thought I'd seen a lot better contemporary painters than 90% of Van Gogh's work.

It took a lot of hunting for me to find the pieces that spoke to me. And I did, finally. Just a few. But enough for me to settle down, stop chafing, and get to work on learning what I can from him. I wanted to show you the piece I've liked the best so far:

And then tell you what I've been planning on doing. I have had an idea in my head for a long time, an image from a dream, that I've wanted to do as a piece of art. It's of a birch forest all in peaches and golds, and I think I could use Van Gogh's broken color and interpretive color methods to pull it off. We'll see. More study is needed, and I guess the next step for me is to do a sketch in Van Gogh's style.

I should also let you know who else is in on this project, too, while I'm at it. Here's Katherine's post with all the participants so far (email me or comment if you want to be added in!)

I have to admit that now that I've studied him more, I have high hopes for what Van Gogh might do for my cityscapes. Okay, VG. Do you stuff. C'mon!


Katydid said...

Your Violet piece is just beautiful. I can't stop looking at it.

I agree that his "winners" are rather sparse, though, that's a good choice in Van Gogh; the light source is nice!

Casey Klahn said...

Hey, I wanted to say that I admire how you can create these cats with such authenticity - especially with the elongated faces. Also the little bit of impasto pops this work so well.
VG is, no argument, worse technically than just about anybody. I have often thought about the comparison to current painters. I once saw a show of Impressionists, however, that revealed some pretty funky brush and finished work. I concluded that they were pre-Cubists who didn't take the whole canvas into consideration.
I also make what is, for me, a good analogy. For others, perhaps it's hard to follow, we'll see.
It goes like this:
When I was a climber, I admired my heroes who pioneered much in the rock climbing world. A guy named Royal Robbins is the super star.
Over time, I got to actually know him a little, and he, at least, recognized me by name.
Turns out, even I was quickly climbing at the rate at which he was doing his first break-through climbs. I and everyone else, too!
There is a very fast growth in human endeavors, once someone breaks through. At the time, something seems "impossible", and then here comes a pioneer.
Now, hero worship aside, VG is acclaimed by critics sometimes for his lack of technical skill. It may even be a secret in his ability to communicate his passion.
I have often thought that the merit of craftsmanship can sometimes sidetrack the "art" in something. VG may be the champion of that theory.
I, myself, dove headfirst into full-time art well before I could control my medium. I still have far to go, but I have been recognized for handling pastels, now. And I will say that the skill helps with the communication element of what I want to "say".
But, the art. The art!
My other art hero, Wolf Kahn, is a master of the oil painting brush. He hides that exquisitely. He once said that he regretted becoming skilled with his mediums, because he missed being able to "overwork" paintings (or drawings). He actually had something to say with those overloaded artworks!
BTW, I see some VG in your cityscapes already!

Kelley said...

First - I LOVE your painting of the cat - you captured the spirit of the kitty, and it is a beautiful painting to boot! Also I just finished, and would highly recommend "The Yellow House" about the 2 months Vincent and Gauguin shared a house in Arles, just before Vincent's 'breakdown'. It reveals a lot about his struggle to find his 'voice' and what he was trying to do. Like all of us, he lookedat and responded to the art created around him. Verrrrry interesting about the two of them working, or trying to, together. You GO girl!

Maggie Stiefvater said...

Kate - thank you.

Casey - you ought to post what you just said on your blog. It's too good to get hidden in my comments.

Kelley - thanks -- I saw that book recommended by someone else too, I guess that means I have to read it, right?