View Full Version : Reverse Van Gogh

06-21-2015, 07:52 PM
While living in Arles, Van Gogh painted many canvases in the countryside to the east of the city, in the area known as La Crau. One of his more famous is Harvest at LaCrau.


As a challenge to myself I decided to reverse the view and have a go at painting ITSO Van Gogh, looking back toward the haystack and blue cart. The three little trees in the background become the 3 medium sized trees in my foreground.

Here is my version on Canvasboard, 20" x 24":


My photo is little more "orange" than the painting. Will try for a better view when the light becomes less intense.

I had fun trying to figure out how Van Gogh rendered different elements; and fun exploring his paintings to see how he painted other scenes nearby from which I picked up some of the buildings that appear in the background of my version.

C&C welcome. How to make it "more" Van Gogh? :)

06-21-2015, 08:01 PM
Great work and a really fun exercise . The only thing that could make it look more Van Gogh would be darker accents and possibly thicker applied paint. His strokes were so thick they'd appear to cast their own shadows (like the vertical strokes in the hay in the extreme left foreground )

Really cool what you did, almost like you created a computer model in your imagination and painted the scene from a new perspective. Very cool

06-21-2015, 08:16 PM
Colin: Great idea recreating the untold histories of a painting! Beautiful colors

Lady Carol
06-21-2015, 09:03 PM
What a cool concept. Confess it took me a bit to find the three trees :eek: I like this a lot.

06-21-2015, 09:40 PM
What a great idea, I think Van gogh is my favourite artist and you did him proud. I agree with Christopher about the texture.

06-21-2015, 10:01 PM
Thanks Christine, Carol, Fede and Christopher.

Thanks for all your input. Christopher and Christine: I certainly agree about the brushstrokes - these are pretty thick, but you are right that his were even more so.

Here's another photo a little less 'orange' I think, and truer to the colours I have going on.


06-22-2015, 01:06 AM
There's a certain charm to yours!

06-22-2015, 06:20 AM
I agree with Gayle, it does have a certain charm and you do have the nice yellows that make his paintings sunny and cheerful

06-22-2015, 08:58 AM
I like this. Good color and good expanse to the horizon.

Couple things I noticed. VG's buildings are kind of ramshackle; saggy roofs mostly. Also that foreground detail in VG's version almost puts us into the scene. In your version I get a sense of viewing from a great distance and height.

The sharp brush strokes in the foreground fence and vegetation add energy to VG's painting. Yours is much calmer, serene.

06-22-2015, 09:42 AM

06-22-2015, 10:21 AM
That's quite the challenge to turn the scene around like that. Good work. It does need more visible brush strokes to look Van Gogh, that touch of insanity, lol.

06-22-2015, 11:19 AM
Very interesting challenge, that required a good amount of imagination as well as closed attention to the rules of perspective. The local artist society is having a "paint the masters" theme meeting for September, I don't normally have any interest in copying masterworks but I might make an exception for Van Gogh, who wouldn't love to have a Van Gogh hanging on their wall, even if it is a copy?

Charlie's Mum
06-22-2015, 11:37 AM
What a really good idea Colin!
Certainly engages the brain to work it all out!

I agree your own position in relation to the land is a little more elevated than VG's - but not sure it matters!
His building shadows were violet - but you've taken a different angle to the sun, so can't see them (and I think the violet against his yellows adds a lot).
You've also moved the C of I of course, which for him was the wagon, bang in the centre!

I do think you've done extremely well - my hat's off to you (if I had one!):lol:

06-23-2015, 01:37 AM
Thanks Gayle.

Thank you Purple. I love the Harvest painting for its great sunny yellows and nice blues.

Thanks Cliff - Agreed - my houses are still too "cartoon prim". Need to turn them into fixer-uppers. Ha ha.

Thanks Jessica.

Michelle - Thanks. Ha ha, I was probably insane to try and take on Van Gogh. He is deceptively more complex than he seems.

Thank you David I appreciate you taking a look.

Thanks Maureen - Part of the challenge was the "loss" of Van Gogh's great blue wagon and haystack to the background. I thought the house and trees would be strong enough to provide a workable centre of interest (after all VG painted houses and trees) but I don't think I emphasized them enough. If I increase the emphasize through more application of paint, it might help balance the painting better.

06-23-2015, 06:21 AM
I like your strong colours. I agree that Van Gogh's brushstrokes are more obvious with darker strokes next to lighter strokes.

06-23-2015, 09:19 AM
Wonderful idea.

06-23-2015, 11:08 AM
I so like this idea, Colin!
The only thing to make it more like a Van Gogh is gobs of paint in each brushstroke, but I think you have achieved your goal as is.
Well Done!

06-23-2015, 11:59 AM
Colin: I've always loved that particular V.G.
I like your rendition very much.

Charlie's Mum
06-23-2015, 05:16 PM
Colin - eliminating the blue wagon and changing the C of I wasn't meant as a criticism! ... merely pointing out his dead centre P of I - normally a no-no!:lol:

06-23-2015, 11:29 PM
this is very good work. yes he is very complex and and what is amazing to me he did most his paintings in one sitting.and they bigger that a lot of people do today

06-24-2015, 11:04 PM
Thank you Marion, Msoshu, Jon Derek and Jock.

Thanks Maureen! I have slathered on more paint and it has helped focus the attention onto the foreground elements as well as add some energy to the fields I think. I will try and get a decent updated photo of it tonight.

06-25-2015, 01:16 AM
I have made a few tweaks and here is the update.http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/25-Jun-2015/1183569-image.jpg

06-25-2015, 08:37 AM
Well done! What gave you the idea for this interesting self challenge? Do you have plans to do others as well?

06-25-2015, 09:09 AM
Interesting idea and I bet you had to really think about this one. I'm not a big fan of Van Gogh (probably the only one that is not, lol) but I think you did a wonderful job of reversing the scene.

06-25-2015, 02:02 PM
Well done! What gave you the idea for this interesting self challenge? Do you have plans to do others as well?

thanks Cindy.

The idea came about as a result of a suggestion from someone in a discussion thread on the Cafe Guerbois forum. The discussion was about the use of/avoidance of strong colours and I posted Van Gogh's Harvest at LeCrau and wondered what the painting would look like from the vantage of someone on the other side of the fields. And someone suggested I try it and see. So I am always up for a new challenge...

I might try another one as I really enjoyed the mental exercise of flipping around the scene; and the sleuthing on Google Streetview was interesting as well to try and see what was in the distant background. It is very flat looking that way (which is no doubt why Van Gogh painted the opposite direction so he could get background hills). I found an old farmhouse in the area that I used as the model for my farmhouse in the foreground - but it looks like the actual area has very few buildings left from what was there in Van Gogh's day.

I also have been thinking about how Van Gogh put together the original composition - with the blue cart in the middle. I think it works there because it cools down his very warm colours, and because his background is so striking and has so much interest, I think that helped him 'break the rule' about not putting the centre of interest in the middle.

And thinking about colour temperature made me realize that I probably should have used a cooler tone on my buildings facing the viewer, even if it meant assuming they were in shade (artistic licence). When I look at VanGogh from now on I will be much more interested in his compositions and in analyzing colour temperature to see what he did.

And of course the original has strong horizontals, whereas mine ended up with strong verticals from the fields, something I am not happy with in the end, but the drawing process pushed me there.

Sorry to run on. :rolleyes: Yeah, I learned a lot through this whole thing and might well try another. :) If there is interest, it might be fun to do it as a forum project and have others join in if they wish.

06-25-2015, 03:08 PM
Brilliant idea Colin and a great painting!

06-25-2015, 10:42 PM
Thanks Patti. Van Gogh is one of my favourites.

Thank you Tina.

06-26-2015, 05:52 PM
This is a great idea , I wish I'd thought of it !! very well done

06-27-2015, 11:01 PM
This is a great idea , I wish I'd thought of it !! very well done

Thanks Wilt. Anyone can try it! Quite interesting and fun.

Dawn Melka
06-28-2015, 10:17 AM
What a great idea, I think you are on to something. I know you wanted it to be Van goghish ( it is) but I would not be so worried about that, I think what you did is brilliant let your own style shine through