Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ode to the Original Daily Painter

In the last 70 days of his life, it's believed Vincent Van Gogh painted every day, despite his declining mental and physical condition. Thanks to my talented painting mother/daughter duo Anita and Amber for bringing me this wonderful painting inspiration this week.  Van Gogh painted this Mulberry Tree near St. Remy in the fall of 1889, less than a year before his death in the summer of 1890.

As I've mentioned before, master copies (even loose interpretations) are a tried and true learning tool for learn new painting techniques. I promise they will also give you a new appreciate for their work, color sense, and vision.

This painting was no exception. Following in Vincent's brush steps, so to speak, I was constantly reminded to change the direction of my brush strokes and keep my thick, impasto oil colors clean and high energy at every turn. I also took note his use of signature dark lines and mastery of complementary colors. Every time I take the time to examine a Van Gogh at length, I can't help but feel he's left them behind as some kind of urgent yet timeless message to all the painters who dare follow him. 

Before painting, I considered some of the 19th century pigments (many of course now considered fugitive or poisonous or both) Vincent would have had on his little wooden palette such as emerald or Paris green, lamp black, yellow ochre, lead white, chrome yellow, Prussian blue, etc. 

For color history geeks like me, here's an  interesting article regarding master painter palettes.  For this little 9 x 12 oil study (the original is approx. 21 x 25),  I chose a more contemporary palette of Ultramarine, Thalo Blue, Burnt Sienna, Indian Yellow, Lemon Yellow, Cad. Red Light, and Permalba White--which I thought was a fantastic autumn palette. I also used relatively small brushes to help imitate the undulating texture.

Thanks again to all my students (and Vincent!) who continue to inspire me with their work! See you in the studio!

1 comment:

  1. I like your interpretation of Van Gogh's Mulberry Trees. I am a big fan of his work and was fortunate to see a large exhibit of his art last spring in Philadelphia (which I also featured on my blog). I did a painting of this same exact piece recently and I agree that you learn so much by doing so. I like your expressive style and your masterful use of color in this painting and in your other work tool. :-D