I sorted some paintings out last night and this one cropped up. I had almost forgotten it! I think it’s about 5 years since I painted it. Van Gogh was always a favourite of mine and this is meant as a tribute to a rather strange, tragic figure with a burning desire to paint well (I have that, too). He actually only painted for about 10 years in all. In the final 70 days of his short life (he was 37 when he committed suicide) he painted a picture every single day. I visited the huge exhibition held at the van Gogh museum in Amsterdam a few years ago and was entranced to see so many of his paintings. They included 3 versions of one sunflower painting, one of which had come from Japan and had just been declared genuine. I think Vincent was rather a pain as a person. He did not get on too well with his “lodger” Gauguin at the yellow house, but that did not stop him chopping off bits of Gauguin’s roll of jute and painting on it. One painting has a piece of it tagged on to the top. That was also identified by modern scientific methods. Vincent must have started with the vase then moved up and discovered there wasn’t enough room for the sunflower heads. He was, like so many famous artists, a victim of his own weaknesses. So many of them had sexually transmitted diseases. Absinthe was a favourite (and lethal) beverage, and if that didn’t do the trick, then there was always the lead and other dangerous toxins in the paints. On the topic of drugs, Renoir once said he thought there was something wrong with him because he was the only one of his generation NOT to be addicted to something or other.
The baby in this “portrait” (done in oils on 50×60cm canvas and wildly exaggerated!) is Marcelle Roulin, the daughter of the local postmaster in Arles, who was quite happy for his family to pose for free. He became great friends with Vincent. There are at least three versions of Marcelle. She was probably an obstreporous, unwilling model and certainly unpretty. Vincent had problems with the bonnet (so did I) and I don’t think he liked the child very much, either. I put the sunflowers in because of course, this is not a painting to be taken seriously, but a loving tribute to one of the fathers of modern painting.
I got the information on Marcelle out of the internet. If you would like to read more, I’m sure you can find the pages. Here’s a link to the VvG museum at:http://www3.vangoghmuseum.nl/vgm/index.jsp
and to a lovely website all about him:
PS I’m always on “The healing journey” when I ‘m working. Identifying with the original artist is better than a thousand workshops. When I play the piano, somethng similar happens.
PPS I forgot to mention that this painting also bases on a real personage in my circle of acquaintances. At least, that’s what people who know her tell me.