Friday, February 9, 2007

A New Respect for Vincent

At the beginning of February I said that I took up this month's study of Van Gogh with reluctance. My "objection" is two-fold. For one, I hate that "tortured soul" aspect of his work. Secondly, while others praise his patterned stroke-work as emotive, I just see "this is all I can do with paint." So I quickly moved onto his drawings. (I was just trying to be honest, not arrogant. He was, after all, human and our society has made him into something else.)

My last post had a quick study of his "Landscape with a Church." Today I went for a fuller study, above is my effort. I must say I have a new respect for Vincent (this is how he would want me to refer to him, as I'm an American and don't pronounce his name as he wanted it pronounced.) Yes, his work is filled with "patterned" strokes that are not always successful - look at those twigs in his trees (I know that his drawing is not a finished work, but the same thing applies to some of his paintings.) But it is also filled with strokes that are successful, deceptively simple, and difficult to replicate.

As I worked on this I had all sorts of questions...
  • what is his focal point? The church is in the center and the most detailed, but it's in the back.
  • are the people important? I nearly missed them.
  • is there a door on the church? Is that intentional? Wait, maybe it's open...well, no, I don't know what that is.
  • did he just find bare trees interesting? Maybe they are not such metaphorical insights into his soul as we make them to be.
  • why does this drawing appeal to me if I can't find a focal point or emotional emphasis?
  • if I tried to just draw a building, with trees in front and a few random backsides, would it be nearly so successful and engaging - I know the answer to this one, NO.
I also found that my hand was trembling at the end of this short drawing. I've done pen and ink work before, that doesn't usually happen to me. So, I'm being honest again, there is more to Vincent's drawing skill than I before admitted. As well, I think his composition choice here is masterful.

So, I am thankful to the Fine Line Artists for their push in the Van Gogh direction. Be sure to check out Katherine Tyrrell's post about the project and her list of participants. They are all very talented artists with insightful blogs. I benefit greatly from their work and wisdom.


artist said...

Hi Rose,

Just dropping in to check on the Van Gogh project.

I've noticed that his center of interest is almost always in the center of the canvas. The appeal of his work may be in all those "art rules" he managed to break so successfully.

Lisa B.

Rose Welty said...

Hi Lisa,

Thanks for stopping in. I fell short on the VG project, but look forward to next month's artist.

Thanks for your observation about VG. I do think that in the sketch I was looking at the church was the center of interest and putting it in the background was a bit of a comment!