Van Gogh’s Way

Van Gogh's Way

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Van Gogh’s Way

Oil on canvas, 40” x 30”
Public collection, The City of Woodstock

This painting of the Woodstock Depot pays homage to the work of Vincent van Gogh. It is the second in a series of Depot paintings honoring four artists: Monet, van Gogh, Hopper and Wyeth.

Van Gogh was strongly influenced by the French Impressionists, the group of artists famous for painting in short gestural brushstrokes. What they chose to paint was not so important to them as the way they painted it. Flower, sailboat, or ballerina, the subject didn’t matter. Each was broken into myriad facets of color and light, rendered equal in the eye of the artist.

Van Gogh adapted the short brushstrokes of the Impressionists, but the light and color he painted were not of the physical world. His paintings conformed to an inner vision. Colors were exaggerated, forms distorted. Roads glowed orange, skies swirled, and faces wavered like reflections in a funhouse mirror.

As I studied his work I began to think that he represented the physical world as a physicist might paint the fabric of space-time, curving and bending around the gravitational fields of stars and planets. In the same way, van Gogh’s paint curves around hills and faces, responding to some inner pull that perhaps all of us feel, but only Vincent could see.

In adopting van Gogh as a teacher, I strove to see the Depot and its surrounding through his eyes. The old road buckles, the sky swoops down, and trees lean into the horizon. Where is Vincent going with this painting? The small figure is the artist himself, bowing under the burden of madness and depression.

In his own existence, van Gogh could find neither happiness nor beauty. But he found both in the world around him, capturing them forever in his art.

 

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