“I’ve just kept on ceaselessly painting in order to learn painting.”—Vincent van Gogh, Nuenen, on or about November 17, 1885, to Theo van Gogh
I stand in front of my Father-in-Law’s ceiling high bookcases filled with hard back novels, biographies, and everything else.
The Deschutes river in the backyard with it’s rushing rapids is the only sound in the sleeping house.
A colorfully bound book catches my eye and I pull it off the shelf.
Lust for Life By Irving Stone. The life is that of Vincent van Gogh. How can a long dead, though famous painter be such a serandipitous soul-fill? I’ve always loved his work. Now I bathe in his world for two days.
As a small boy Vincent loved to draw. By the time he was 28 he had been an art dealer, teacher, book-seller, divinity student and evangelist. He gave it all up to paint. For next 5 years he ate, drank, and slept his art in the Netherlands to learn his craft.
It was 1886 when van Gogh set out for Paris to join his brother, Theo. He was “the best art dealer in Paris” and managed the Goupils art Gallery. It was there where Vincent first saw paintings that breathed light and color…the impressionist’s work. So unlike his “dreary & dark” oils.
“But these new men! They had discovered the air! They had discovered light and breath, atmosphere and sun…Vincent realized that painting could never be the same again…” (Lust for Life)
At first it was discouraging because van Gogh felt he had to unlearn how to paint. This new way of painting challenged him.
In 1890 he died alone from what was thought to be a self inflicted gunshot wound. The gun was never found. In just a little over 10 years he gifted the world with with 860 oil paintings and 1,300 watercolors. Theo loved him dearly.
The artist’s way is the way I choose…