Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Van Gogh-ing

Well, actually our Van didn’t Go anywhere. (Ha-ha.) T-Man decided that the snow had melted enough in all the rain to take the MINI Cooper to work today. Gave me conniptions watching him drive out of the garage. First time he could get the poor car out in 3 weeks! The side streets are still two ruts with a foot of slush and snow on either side but the main streets are clear. All he had to do was go three blocks in the bad stuff. This is the first time in a week he has actually gone in to work and I have to admit I miss his presence. Even though when he’s working here all I see is the top of his head over the back of his big leather chair. This month he’s working an unfamiliar shift, 10am-6pm, so dinner will be later than usual. He brought a shovel with him just in case he needs it to get home. Hope he doesn’t.

Of course, the title really meant the artist, Vincent van Gogh. In our notes from Sharon Boggon’s Workhorse Journals class, she uses the ubiquitous Starry Night painting as a basis to practice developing stitching designs by reinterpreting a painter’s marks into stitches. Since I don’t stitch much and not in the embroiderer’s way that Sharon does, I thought I would google the picture anyway and see what I could find.

This definitive site had an easy to understand (for the non-art-speaker) discussion and comparison with a couple of other paintings van Gogh did on a similar theme. I particularly like Starry Night Over the Rhone. I think it’s because it isn’t such a cliché. The sky isn’t so overwhelming and I’ve always been fond of lights reflecting in water. It also has a couple walking in the foreground and it totally reminds me of walking along our False Creek seawall with T. I also found a link to this cool mosaic of Starry Night. Use the available tools to zoom in until you can see the individual photos that make up the painting. BTW you can use the free software there to make your own mosaic picture.

There is a sketch that van Gogh did of the Starry Night scene that gives you a better idea of the “skeleton” of the picture without the vibrant colours. I would find it easier to play with that than the final painting if I was developing “stitches” from it. Just saying. Trivia Time: Did you know that he made many drawings and paintings of weavers with their looms (all men and one even has a baby in a highchair in the corner), women winding from swifts using something that might be mistaken for a spinning wheel (winding pirns or bobbins for the weavers?), a shepherdess, women spinning and sewing and girls knitting. I like this one especially:

I’ve always kind of felt sorry for poor Vincent. He was the very picture of a tortured artist who only sold one painting in his lifetime. (It was a good one though!) He had mental and physical health problems which of course he made worse by drinking absinthe. Even his friend, fellow Impressionist painter Paul Gauguin had to get away from Vincent’s self-destructive craziness. (I’m sure the ear incident was the last straw!) Don’t you wonder whether he might not have been such a great artist if he was perfectly healthy? Sad, but probably true. He killed himself when he was just 37 (a year older than my daughter). After that it took his sister-in-law only a short time to convince everyone what a great artist Vincent van Gogh really was. Guess it helps if you aren’t undermining yourself at every turn, huh?

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