View Full Version : Master of the Month #21 - September 2005 (Van Gogh)

08-31-2005, 09:50 PM
This month's Master is Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890)


Self-Portrait with Felt Hat
Oil on canvas, 1888
17.2 x 14.75 inches (44 x 37.5 cm)

This month we are looking at his paintings:

The Starry Night
Oil on canvas, 1889
29 x 36.25 inches (73.7 x 92.1 cm)
Museum of Modern Art, New York City


High resolution image here (http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/gogh/starry-night/gogh.starry-night.jpg)

Wheat Field with Rising Sun
Oil on canvas 1889
27.95 x 35.6 inches (71 x 90.5 cm )
Private collection


High resolution image here (http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/gogh/fields/gogh.wheat-rising-sun.jpg)

The post-impressionist style for which van Gogh is famous uses thickly impasto paint and large numbers of short straight brushstokes in contrasting colours applied immediately next to one another in bold rhythmic patterns, forming circles and sinuous curves on the larger scale. Both of these late paintings typify this style.

His canvases were often fairly coarse-grained, and there is evidence that some may have had a dull pink ground, as was common at the time.

Van Gogh corresponded at length by letters over the course of 18 years with his beloved brother Theo, and these letters provide a great (and often very moving) insight into many aspects of his life - they are now available complete, online:

contains those letters of Van Gogh in which he specifically makes reference to his technique - the middle and later ones are more relevant to his painting technique, the earlier ones mainly discuss drawing.

These ones are particularly informative:







Vincent Willem Van Gogh was born on March 30, 1853 in Zundert, Holland. He was the second child of Reverend Theodorus van Gogh (a preacher in the Dutch Reformed Church) and Anna Cornelia Carbentus (daughter of a bookseller) who had married two years earlier. His younger brother Theodorus (Theo) was born in 1857.

Vincent began his education at the village school in 1861, and subsequently attended two boarding schools, excelling in French, English, and German. However, in March 1868, he left school, returning to Zundert.

In July 1869, Vincent started an apprenticeship at the Hague gallery (which had been established by his uncle, also called Vincent) belonging to the French art dealers Goupil & Cie. In August 1872, Vincent began writing (a correspondance which would continue across the next 18 years)to Theo, who accepted a position at Goupil's in January 1873, working in Brussels initially, and then transferring to the Hague, a few months before Goupil transferred Vincent to London in June 1873, and then Paris, London and again to Paris by 1875. He spent time in the art galleries and museums in both cities. It is reported that in London he fell unsuccessfully, asnd unrequitedly, in love with the daughter of his landlady. After losing his job due to erratic behaviour and poor performance, he returned to England in 1876 as an unpaid assistant at a boarding school in Isleworth for a while, and found increasing zeal faced with the poverty of the place.

Back in the Netherlands,he decided to become a minister, and his parents agreed to support him in this. However, he abandoned the training for a post as lay minister with the miners of Borinage in Belgium. He gave away his own possessions to the poor, and lived as a pauper himself - he was then dismissed from his post. He remained there however, in poverty, until 1880.

With Theo's encouragement and financial support, he next decided to become an artist - in 1881, having moved home again with his parents, he started working on his basic drawing skills
By the end of the year, he had moved out and was taking lessons from Anton Mauve, but began a relationship with Sien Hoomik, a pregnant prostitute - due to which Mauve broke off their friendship.

When he began painting, he chose to make pictures of peasant life, mostly in a dark palette, heavily influenced by the work of Jean-FranÁois Millet.


Two Peasant Women in the Peatfields (1883)


Cottage with Woman Digging (1885)

Vincent started sending these peasant paintings to his brother Theo to sell, but was completely unsuccessful, as Theo explained that they were now unfashionable, and that the brighter palette of the impressionists was in vogue.

After the death of his father, Vincent moved to Antwerp in 1885, in which he was exposed to Rubens, Japanese woodblock prints, and 2 months of academic training (from which he withdrew).

In February 1886 he moved to Montmartre, Paris, where Theo now ran the gallery. It was at this point that he saw the work of the Impressionists and met, among others, Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Pissarro. He worked on self portraits and landscapes, adapting to the lighter palette and more broken brushwork styles.


Le Moulin de la Galette (1886)

In 1888, needing a quieter environment after Paris, he moved to Provence, hiring a studio in Arles - the "Yellow House" - to which he invited Gauguin - Vincent spent the summer painting Plein Air views, and a series of Sunflowers to decorate the house.


When Gauguin arrived in October, they spent only 9 weeks together before increasing clashes culminated in Van Gogh threatening Gauguin with a razor, and subsequently severing part of his own left ear.


Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear (1889)
(Note the self-portrait is a mirror image)

He was hospitalised for a while in Arles and after discharge, unable to get organised again, he had himself admitted to a psychiatric hospital at Saint-Rťmy, where he stayed as an in-patient for a year.

In this period he painted over 150 works, in the adjacent room which was set up as a studio for him, one of which was "The Starry Night".

In May 1890 Vincent moved out of the hospital, to Auvers-sur-Oise, near Paris, to the house of Dr Paul Gachet, with whom he became firm friends. Gachet was a patron of artists, and a frequenter of the Cafe Guerbois.


Portrait of Dr Gachet (1890)

Vincent painted productively in this period including portraits of new friends and acquaintances, and views of the local wheatfields, but a visit to Theo in Paris brought on anxiety, when his brother told him that he was dissatisfied, wanted to set up his own gallery, and that the situation might be financially tighter.

On July 27, 1890, Vincent walked to one of the wheatfields and shot himself in the chest. The wound was not immediately fatal, and he returned to Dr Gachet's house, where he died on July 29, with Theo at his side.

Other resources on the web

So - hopefully we will have lots of members joining in our study here of one of the most tragic, and most-loved, artists. Just to remind you that it's perfectly acceptable to do cropped studies, if people prefer.


09-01-2005, 10:46 AM
I have been looking forward to this coming up!
I have chosen Wheat Field with Rising Sun, and will be posting my progress ASAP.

Sherry Richardson
09-01-2005, 02:36 PM

Thanks for the information on Van Gogh---I look forward to your updates.

Those letter!!!---oh my goodness---I can see that I am going to have to read all of them. I can't believe how poignant and insightful his letters were, and how well he seemed to express himself. If you want to understand the artist and the man behind these paintings, then I highly recommend that you take the time to check out Dave's links. For me, I'm going to have to wait until tonight to read anymore of them---I can't be crying at work.


09-01-2005, 03:34 PM
Thanks for the info Dave and the highlights, the webexhibits site is really great. For bedtime reading I thoroughly recommend the following book for anyone wanting to delve further into the man himself

The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh (Flamingo S.)
Vincent Van Gogh, Mark Roskill (Introduction)


09-01-2005, 09:18 PM
I've added in the biographical info, above.

Glad to see you on board, Loulou, and Sherry !

The Letters are quite something, aren't they? - I think a lot of people who aren't familiar with them will find them real eye-openers as to the intelligence and personality of Van Gogh.

I'm going to make a start on my own study of Starry Night this weekend.


09-02-2005, 12:30 PM
OK ... I've avoided MOM until now, but will jump into this one in an effort to reconsider what I might glean. I'll tackle parts of Wheat Field With Rising Sun from an analytic approach.

A Few Pigments
09-03-2005, 01:14 AM
Hi Dave, Whilst looking around the web for work by Van Gogh I found this copy of Starry Night at CGFA. Do you know if the colours in this digital copy are more faithful to the original? Iíve never seen the original so I donít know.

CGFA, Starry Night, http://cgfa.sunsite.dk/gogh/p-gogh41.htm


09-03-2005, 08:40 AM
It's always a problem, knowing which online image is closest to the colours of the original. Here's the page at MOMA, (which is where the painting is):


Assuming that's likely to be closer than any here - anybody in New York who can comment?

I was trying to find the largest image I could, for details of paint-handling.

I'm guessing a palette here for these two paintings - yellow ochre, cadmium yellow, cadmium orange, ultramarine, white, veridian, venetian red (or similar - one of the red earths), raw sienna, and black.


A Few Pigments
09-03-2005, 10:16 AM
Hi Dave,

I saved the image from the MOMA site and worked some digital magic on it. You can see the hues in the flame like trees on the left now. I just made the MOMA image lighter and corrected the contrast. I didnít change the hues at all. Iíll check my library to see if they have a book with a good reproduction.


09-03-2005, 04:19 PM
Useful :


Art Renewal (http://www.artrenewal.com/asp/database/image.asp?id=9552)

Van Gogh Reproductions (http://www.vangoghreproductions.com/paintings/1889-10.html)

Ibiblo (http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/gogh/starry-night/gogh.starry-night.jpg)

Van Gogh Gallery (http://www.vggallery.com/painting/p_0612.htm)

MOMA (http://www.moma.org/collection/browse_results.php?criteria=O%3ADE%3AI%3A5%7CG%3AHO%3AE%3A1&page_number=6&template_id=1&sort_order=1)


Comparing palettes of "Irises" and ". . River Rhone", time frame, and clarity of this image. My two cents would be on this one.

Vispix (http://visipix.com/cgi-bin/view?s=3&userid=1246197338&q=gogh&u=2&k=0&l=en&n=190)

09-03-2005, 05:11 PM
Thanks, Richard, and Bruce !

Well ! - there's a Starry Night there to suit all tastes - LOL !

Anybody anywhere near MOMA who could go have a look and report back? :)


09-03-2005, 05:26 PM
Richard, thanks for the great links, especially the one with those letter sketches, ah those sketches...................................................Gotta say though that the one on technique seemed a little silly and masturbatory, I don't believe for a second that Vincent used a "perspective frame" for his drawings.

09-03-2005, 05:42 PM
I don't believe for a second that Vincent used a "perspective frame" for his drawings.

Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
The Hague, 3 June 1882
I have spent more on making an instrument for studying proportion and perspective, the description of which can be found in a book by Albrecht DŁrer, and which the old Dutch masters also used. It makes it possible to compare the proportion of objects near by with those on a more distant plane, in cases where construction according to the rules of perspective is not possible. And when one tries to do it with the eye alone - unless one is an expert and very far advanced - it is always hopelessly wrong.

I did not succeed in making the instrument at once, but I managed it at last, after many efforts, with the help of the carpenter and the smithy.

Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
Arles, c. 14 March 1888
I made my last three studies with the perspective frame which you know I use. I attach some importance to the use of the frame because it seems not unlikely to me that in the near future many artists will make use of it, just as the old German and Italian painters certainly did, and, as I am inclined to think, the Flemish too.


A Few Pigments
09-04-2005, 12:05 AM
Richard thanks for the linkx and pics.

09-04-2005, 01:44 AM
Dear Theo

I didn't know he used a device either.

I am also self-taught, and also learned this method of "seeing" from Albrecht DŁrer.


Although I've never used a device, I've considered constructing something simple from popsicle sticks and wire to help me with plein air compositions. Even though it's depicted by DŁrer for the figurative, this device makes much more sense to be of practical use by the plein air artist or when rendering architecture.

In training myself, I drew the grid mentally (imaginary in the air), and marked a few reference points on the page.

What is interesting, in my own method of marking the page, I've noticed these marks out of place show up on a few old master works including : Jaques-Louis David, and Leonardo from Vinci. So from my own experimentations, and observations, from what he said, I would guess Vincent noticed something similar.

Thanks for the reference to the letters.

09-04-2005, 06:44 AM
Here's my first stage - canvas 16x20 ins - turpsy placement in ultramarine, on top of a 5x4 grid. The block-in is not what van Gogh would have done, but something I find useful as a way of ensuring reasonably accurate placement for my copy.


I'm doing this one in a limited palette of mostly student-quality paint, given the amount of thick impasto here - got 200ml tubes of Winton Titanium White and Ultramarine Blue, and 75ml tubes of Georgian Chrome Yellow Hue, Ivory Black, and Burnt Sienna. I will add other colours as necessary later.


09-04-2005, 07:32 AM
My palette, with, for me, scarily large mounds of paint :D


Blocking in with basic colours, using filbert brushes:


- I'm concentrating at this point on getting the overall brushstroke directions right - in the paler area on the left, I've been trying out applying stripes from small rounds, and this seems to work.

All paint now at out-of-the-tube consistency


09-04-2005, 08:13 AM
Half an hour later, and all these little stripes of paint are starting to send me mad :D - my approach here is:

heavily load the round, make a stripe, turn the brush, make a stripe, turn the brush, make a stripe, drag the brush across the edge of the palette knife several times to get most of the mixed paint off it, and re-load.



09-04-2005, 09:48 AM
More stripes :(



Sherry Richardson
09-04-2005, 11:14 AM
Half an hour later, and all these little stripes of paint are starting to send me mad :D

Please don't go completely mad until you finish, okay? This is a wonderful WIP----I'm so glad you decided to share your plunge into the chilly waters of van Gogh's technique. I wasn't exactly sure how I was going to start (I hope to begin work on the Wheat Field later today.)

More, Dave, more......this is inspiring.


09-04-2005, 12:50 PM
Vincent's drawing of Starry Night :

Visipix (http://visipix.com/cgi-bin/view?userid=1170701776&q=van%20gogh&n=1144&p=55&l=en&u=2&ub=1&k=0)

Negative image of his drawing :


A Few Pigments
09-04-2005, 01:12 PM
Thanks for the drawing Richard. The negative image really brings out the detail.

09-04-2005, 01:19 PM
Vincent's drawing of Enclosed Field Behind Saint-Paul Hospital :

Visipix (http://visipix.com/cgi-bin/view?userid=1170701776&q=van%20gogh&n=1746&p=84&l=en&u=2&ub=1&k=0)

Negative image of his drawing :


Vincent's painting of Wheat Field with Rising Sun


09-04-2005, 01:39 PM
. . . starting to send me mad :D

Vincent's room at Saint Remy Asylum


09-04-2005, 04:44 PM
Hey, Richard, that's odd - my room looks just like that!

Thanks for all the info/images - good stuff!

Bruce :wave:

Sherry - thanks - since you've asked for it.... :cat:



09-04-2005, 07:20 PM
. . good stuff!

Knowing he made preliminary sketches for a painting is interesting.

Starry Night on the River Rhone




09-04-2005, 08:10 PM
". . Theory has no place.., in an artist's basic education. It is the eye and the hand that should be exercised during the impressionable years of youth .... It is always possible to later acquire the accessory knowledge involved in the production of a work of art, but never - and I want to stress that point -- never can the will, perseverance, and tenacity of a mature man make up for insufficient practice. And can there be such anguish compared to that felt by the artist who sees the realization of his dream compromised by weak execution?"
-- William Adolphe Bouguereau

A few sketches by Vincent Van Gogh


re: his third attempt at a particular portrait

". . I know very well that it is neither drawn nor painted as correctly as a Bouguereau and I rather regret this, because I have an earnest desire to be correct. But though it is doomed, alas, to be neither a Cabanel nor a Bouguereau, yet I hope that it will be French."
-- Vincent Van Gogh (letter) at 35yrs old

09-04-2005, 08:26 PM
Hey people! I nearly forgot it's a new month! Two pages already! :) I love that I can choose any color scheme I like for the Starry Night...except I will wait first to SEE if Dave goes completely MAD first! Having that MUCH FUN are we Dave???????? :)

09-05-2005, 09:35 AM
Hi All,
I think those negative images are a really good idea, I have chosen the wheat field with rising sun and the negative image shows a lot of detail that you miss when looking at a web size image in colour . e.g the clouds on the left corner, the outlines are much clearer, i read that he started his paintings by outlining in black first (mmm perhaps i should have done that too!).

09-05-2005, 01:06 PM
And more....

- still managing to hold on to a few shreds of sanity :p (but it's not finished yet :eek: )


Sherry Richardson
09-05-2005, 01:24 PM

You have done an amazing job of capturing the spirit of his original, even at this stage. If you scroll down this thread, with all different images of "Starry Night," it's easy to mistake your version for the original, or at least to mistake it for van Gogh's WIP of the original. I'm impressed.

Now, come in off that ledge and finish up.


A Few Pigments
09-05-2005, 01:47 PM
Dave youíre bashing away like a house on fire. If I did one of these paintings Iíd do Starry Night. Itís always been my favorite Van Goghs. And Iíd paint it whilst listening to Don McLean's song about Vincent.

Don McLean's song Vincent which he wrote about Starry Night and Van Gogh's all too short life.

Starry, starry night.
Paint your palette blue and grey,
Look out on a summer's day,
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul.
Shadows on the hills,
Sketch the trees and the daffodils,
Catch the breeze and the winter chills,
In colors on the snowy linen land.

Now I understand what you tried to say to me,
And how you suffered for your sanity,
And how you tried to set them free.
They would not listen, they did not know how.
Perhaps they'll listen now.

Starry, starry night.
Flaming flowers that brightly blaze, Swirling clouds in violet haze,
Reflect in Vincent's eyes of china blue.
Colors changing hue, morning fields of amber grain,
Weathered faces lined in pain,
Are soothed beneath the artist's loving hand.

Now I understand what you tried to say to me,
And how you suffered for your sanity,
And how you tried to set them free.
They would not listen, they did not know how.
Perhaps they'll listen now.

For they could not love you,
But still your love was true.
And when no hope was left in sight
On that starry, starry night,
You took your life, as lovers often do.
But I could have told you, Vincent,
This world was never meant for one
As beautiful as you.

Starry, starry night.
Portraits hung in empty halls,
Frameless heads on nameless walls,
With eyes that watch the world and can't forget.
Like the strangers that you've met,
The ragged men in the ragged clothes,
The silver thorn of bloody rose,
Lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow.

Now I think I know what you tried to say to me,
And how you suffered for your sanity,
And how you tried to set them free.
They would not listen, they're not listening still.
Perhaps they never will...

Understanding the lyrics and Van Gogh's Life. http://www.vangoghgallery.com/painting/starrynightlyrics.html

09-05-2005, 01:57 PM
BRUCE! Thanks! I love this song.........the melody is so cool....and I like the words Starry Starry night!!!!!!!!! Any song about painting has got to be good....:)

Dave.....you masterful painter! This is awesome! It could be mistaken...a forger is born every month! :eek:

09-05-2005, 02:06 PM
Hi All,
I think those negative images are a really good idea . .

Glad it helps.

I learned to do that because of studying one of his paintings a few years ago, and having to rip it apart to figure out "stuff". Some of his work are in fact, drawing in paint. And that's as far on that debate as I'll take it knowing some consider all painting as drawing. I don't.


Since then, I've stumbled over the sketch.


You can accomplish "seeing" grey-scale in the real world simply by holding up a red stage lighting gel and looking at a painting. Color is an illusion.

09-05-2005, 02:22 PM

If you have sound, that link will play the song by Don McLean

09-05-2005, 02:23 PM
Wow, Dave you are a man on a mission .. you have done so much already .. is your paint supply running out yet? I'm just off to try and catch up a bit :)

09-05-2005, 04:16 PM
Hi All,
I have made a start with my underpainting and outlining, here is where I am at :)


09-06-2005, 10:58 AM
Hi all !

LouLou - you've got a great start there!

Sherry, Cath, Bruce, Richard - thanks for information, Don McLean's song (long a favorite), kind words, and for encouraging me to come back in off the ledge :D

Here's my finished version (I added veridian and cadmium red to my palette) :


So, what have I got out of this? - it's a meticulous technique, and to carry on for months producing a painting every couple of days or so, van Gogh must have been really driven - it does need to be wet-into-wet - this copy is significantly smaller than the original (16x20 ins, as opposed to 30 x 36 ins) and getting the density of lines would be a little easier, done actual size - this is "simplified" compared to the real thing.

So, come on, join in, have a go, folks !


09-06-2005, 11:10 AM
Okay Dave, I believe the perspective frame thing now, although i must say it tarnishes the romantic vision of him walking back from a long day of painting with his easel and wet canvas strapped to his back to imagine him also lugging around a framed wire grid, but what can you do?

Nice work on the copy and very very fast, thanks for the WIP shots, it turned out to be a nice demo.

Sherry Richardson
09-06-2005, 11:37 AM
Dave---Bravo! This is a wonderful study of Starry Night. It's invaluable to know that wet-into-wet is the best technique. Thanks for getting the month off to a good start.

09-06-2005, 02:05 PM
Dave that is really great, your griffin quick dry oils are doing you proud, I will have to put them on my wish list! I love the vibrancy of your colour

09-06-2005, 02:13 PM
Thanks, Loulou, but just to say that this one wasn't done in Griffin alkyds (apart from the veridian and cadmium red), but in Winton and Georgian student paints.


09-06-2005, 02:45 PM
Thanks for the info Dave, did you use a gel medium or equivilent?

09-06-2005, 02:51 PM
No, just paint as it comes from the tubes, mixed to piles of the appropriate colour with a palette knife, and thickly applied with heavily-loaded bristle brushes. No extra medium, oil, or solvent added at all (apart from during the initial turpsy scrub-in for placement).


A Few Pigments
09-06-2005, 03:44 PM
Hi Dave,

Well done you! I was thinking of having a go myself, but after studying this painting I remembered I still have the June and August MOMís to finish. Thereís as much detail in Starry Night as there is in the June MOM so it would take me months to paint Starry Night.

09-06-2005, 03:50 PM
Just had to pop in and say you've done us proud Dave !!!! Marvellous painting, wonderful explanation,and altogether a great thread so far, with excellent contirbutions from all. LouLou you've got a great start there too - it's looking really good. Bruce - that's one of my all-time favourite songs. In fact, as soon as I saw the words, I had to sing them - all the way through ! :):) Only this time, after reading all the above info on Vincent, they mean so much more, don't they ?

Carey Griffel
09-07-2005, 12:15 AM
Yay, good job, Dave!

Thought I'd pop in with mine, though it was actually done over a year ago (gasp! --is that allowed? =p ) This was actually the very first "copy" I ever did. And it was fun. It's...24x36, I think.

Thanks for that write up, Dave.

(Uhm, I hope I used that new uploader tool right! --I guess I didn't!--ok, maybe this time!)



09-07-2005, 12:18 AM
Hey Carey! I'd love to see your painting!! Please DO post it......:)

Dave...this is outstanding!! But I am not so sure....you did it so quickly but like Bruce says....I have my last two months still to go!!!!!!! More company on the way! ;)

09-07-2005, 12:20 AM
Oh.......there it JUST popped up! I sat waiting for it to load & it never did but after I posted my quick reply it popped......LOL......terrific job! That's a biggee too....what did you learn?????????

Carey Griffel
09-07-2005, 01:31 AM
Thanks, Cathleen! =)

I learned quite a bit! Perhaps the most important thing I learned was that it's quite fun and very educational to copy the masters! Also, I'll echo what I think Dave said, that Van Gogh's style is very careful and not at all slap-dash. Keeping clean colors was maddening! I tried to use brigher colors than my reference, as I know that his paintings have dulled over time; they would have been much brighter orginally.

Also, I learned that it's best, when copying, to do something at least *close* in size to the orginal or else you just won't learn as much.

Oh, another thing I learned in particular about Van Gogh was that, although he was careful and meticulous, he must have had a great eye because, while I doubt that these were just pounded out like mad, he wouldn't have taken weeks and months on one painting. I started with the sky and tried to do it so carefully that I was being extremely slow. When I moved down to the ground, I sped up a bit and found that I ended up with something that looked to be closer to how Van Gogh worked. The important thing wasn't duplicating his exact brush strokes, but duplicating the *way* he worked. Because of that, the tree in particular was GREAT fun to paint!

I learned a lot for my first copy, didn't I? =p


09-07-2005, 03:51 AM
Hi everyone, I've never done one of these. I found the information great! So much research has gone into this thread. If we want to do a study, is it out of the two paintings only? I am eager to try one. Well done to Dave and Carey in your studies, they both look fantastic!! Vincent would be proud.

09-07-2005, 05:32 PM
Van Gogh! One of my favorites! Will subscribe but don't think I can work on it this month. Will enjoy seeing everyone's efforts & I am sure I'll learn alot. So can I just watch?

09-09-2005, 05:30 PM
Only found out by chance this year I have the same birthday March 30th......can't paint like him though!

09-11-2005, 01:39 PM
Hi All,
Here is my latest progress on wheat field and rising sun, I can't believe he managed to paint one a day! I have adjusted my mountains, I must have been a little tired when I did stage one as I managed to add one extra! perhaps I should have used a grid :)
L http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/11-Sep-2005/36854-wheatlou2.jpg

Sherry Richardson
09-11-2005, 03:44 PM
It looks like Loulou and I are going to give you 2 different ways to approach this painting. (Looks good, by the way.)

I did this in 1 sitting last night (about 5 hours) with a little touch up this morning. I used Galkyd with a little oil of spike to thin occassionally. I'm fairly new to oils, so in my case, ignorance is bliss. I just charged ahead. What a hoot this was to work on! After the first hour, I really just got in the groove and had a blast moving paint around. I can imagine that this one made van Gogh as happy to paint as it made me.

It's small---11" x 14" and the colors look fresher in person. I went for a 'loose' interpretation---I didn't try to replicate every detail (although, heaven knows my inclination is to paint every leaf on the tree.)


I'm off on a week-long landscape workshop starting tomorrow, and I knew if I didn't get it done last night, I wouldn't get to it.


09-11-2005, 03:53 PM
ooh sherry, I love your pastelly colours, your finished painting is really great :) my canvas is 30" X 20" , it is taking me considerably longer, with an hour here and there, but i am enjoying the experience immensely

09-11-2005, 04:01 PM
Hi All!

Carey, Loulou, and Sherry ! - :clap: for all of you - great jobs, ladies! Really got the spirit and the look of them - and I'll be looking forward to seeing the further development of yours, Loulou.

More to join in ? Plenty of time in the month yet!


Sherry Richardson
09-11-2005, 04:09 PM
Thanks, Loulou and Dave. People SHOULD join in----you really don't know how much fun you are missing.

Lou---at 30" x20" it's going to take you awhile to finish, but what better way to spend your time? I'll keep an eye out for updates.


Sherry Richardson
09-11-2005, 06:56 PM
Itís been fun. In fact, it feels like good to paint vg style.
Best Nickel

It does feel good, doesn't it? I'm not sure why. It has a "free" feeling---it's just you and color interacting in a very lively way.

Yours is looking good, Nickel. Keep us posted.


09-11-2005, 06:57 PM
Hi everyone, I've never done one of these. I found the information great! So much research has gone into this thread. If we want to do a study, is it out of the two paintings only? I am eager to try one. Well done to Dave and Carey in your studies, they both look fantastic!! Vincent would be proud.

Hi Honnie (thanks Nickel!! :wave: ) - you're very welcome to post other Van Gogh studies, either here, (or better) as separate threads in this subforum - as a general rule, we try to keep these MOMs to the selected paintings because it's easier and less confusing for the general discussions to give "support" if we restrict it within this thread, so everyone's working on the same painting (last year, apart from Oct, we only had one painting per month, this year we've increased the choice to two). Obviously, if you prefer to work on a different painting, post the fact that you're doing so here, and follow along with the discussion, and we would give whatever input we could on your painting of choice on the other thread. Make sense?

Nickel - good to have you doing a "Starry Night" here too!! Looking good (though the photo's a little dark) - I'm not sure whether I'll have a go at the "Wheatfield" - see how things are, later in the month - got the "Kids" portraits I'm doing as a WIP, and several other things too.


09-12-2005, 04:21 AM
Hi Nickel, thanks for comments, your starry night is looking good so far, will watch for updates :)
Dave, come on you know you want to ... WFRS is beckoning ... ;)
All, I agree once you get going on this it is soooo rewarding and really does have a free feeling / falling association

09-14-2005, 09:20 AM
I think the fairies liked the cookies!

Sherry Richardson
09-14-2005, 10:17 PM
Excellent work, Nickel....errhhhh.......aaaa........fairies, I mean. You (and your friends) captured the spirit of the work. Was it fun? Can I be reasonably assured that no fairies were harmed in the production of this challenging work of art?

(I have a sneaking suspicion that Nickel should be the one to eat the cookies, though.)

09-15-2005, 04:18 PM
Hi All,
I am nearly there, just a few more stripes! ;)
Here is my latest


09-15-2005, 04:23 PM
sorry that was a gif posted instead of jpg here is a better image

Sherry Richardson
09-15-2005, 10:31 PM
Nickel--your final version is oh so :music: "starry, starry night." :music: I love the light in the windows of the town. Makes me want to visit.

Loulou---you've made a lot of progress. The purple against the green looks wonderful.

No other takers?


09-16-2005, 04:05 AM
Hi Nickel, and the fairies! Thanks for your comments and I hope to be seeing more of all of you in oils. The fairies did a magnificent job, the cookies are on you!

Hi Sherry, Thanks for the encouragement and comments, I look forward to further adventures in oils, but first back to work!

09-16-2005, 11:10 AM
Lou & Sherry, thanks for looking...and the comments.....I enjoyed seeing the lights come to life in the windows...that really helped the painting appear more of a nightscape...glad it felt welcoming.

I really would like to do a work of his sunflowers, maybe soon, any other painting by Van Gogh either of you would like to study? Nickel

Lou, nice web site :wave:

Sherry Richardson
09-17-2005, 01:51 AM
I really would like to do a work of his sunflowers, maybe soon, any other painting by Van Gogh either of you would like to study?

Go, Nickel, go! --- I can hear those sunflowers calling your name. I just started a Waterhouse tonight and was thinking of doing Dali's "Figure" next month. I think my dance card is a little full right now, but I would love to watch you. I'll watch, I promise.

I'm tempted, though. There is another one called "Wheat Field with Cypresses" that would be a good companion for the one I finished. Hhhmmmmm. Maybe I can squeeze it in. MAYBE. You go first, okay?


09-17-2005, 04:19 AM
Thanks Nickel .. I will watch yur progress with interest if you decide to do another Van Gogh .. but I have a landscape to start .. I was really tempted to join in the Waterhouse MOM .. was not sure if it was too late ..

Which Waterhouse are you doing Sherry? I love Waterhouse. :)

Sherry Richardson
09-17-2005, 01:02 PM
Loulou--I'm working on "Boreas"---I just love the feeling of the wind, the pose and the color of the cloth. His original is here (http://www.artrenewal.com/asp/database/image.asp?id=839).

I'm new to Waterhouse, so I am just starting to learn about him. It's amazing to me that van Gogh was a contemporary of Waterhouse and Leighton. No wonder van Gogh had a hard time selling his work---he was the avant-garde rebel of his time, not that this was his plan. I've always admired people who buck the trend---I don't actually follow that dictum, mind you.


09-17-2005, 02:51 PM
I've always admired people who buck the trend---I don't actually follow that dictum, mind you.


Sherry with this quote, I think you might buck a little :D :D :D
"If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun." ----Katharine Hepburn

Sherry Richardson
09-17-2005, 03:29 PM
Sherry with this quote, I think you might buck a little :D :D :D
"If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun." ----Katharine Hepburn

Nickel---it's a "post-it" note to myself. :D I need little reminders sometimes.


09-17-2005, 05:56 PM
Hi Sherry, Nickel, Loulou (and those reading along!)

Wonderful renditions there! :clap: (don't let the fairies take all the credit, Nickel - or all the cookies! ) Loulou - looks pretty well there! Very authentic-looking!

Hoping we still get some more takers, there's still time left to have a go during the month.


A Few Pigments
09-19-2005, 07:00 PM
I have a question for the group here. Does anyone know why Van Goghs work wasnít thought of as art during his lifetime? And does anyone know why his work is considered to be the work of a true artistic genius now? Iím wondering what changed in the art world that made artistís think Van Goghs work was rubbish in the late 1800ís, but is brilliant work today. When did the art world first recognize Van Goghs work as truly brilliant? If the art world is infallible how was that mistake made?

What worries me is how can we be sure that when we say something is or is not a work of art that what weíre saying is really true?

Carey Griffel
09-20-2005, 11:53 AM
Interesting questions to ponder, Bruce. I can't claim to have an answer, but I do have an opinion. First of all, I tend to try not to make blanket statements, but I feel pretty confident in saying that the art world is NOT--no, not even remotely--infallible. Look at how many opinions there are, how many different types of art exist today...anyone can say X is art and Y is not while someone else will say Y is art and X is not.

Why was Van Gogh's work not appreciated during his lifetime? I can't claim to know exactly (I'm not that old), but look at it in context...was anyone doing work that approached his? People try to block him into different schools of art, but none really fit, at least at that time. It was a time of changes in art, certainly, but since no one had seen any work as "radical" as his, no one could quite understand it. "They" (whoever the nebulous "they" were) loved to criticize anything that wasn't "normal", they scoffed at anything, more or less, that didn't fall into the line of classical art.

Looking back, we can see that shortly after Van Gogh (years, decades, whatever, but definitely shortly after the turn of the century), more artists began "experimenting", "bucking the system" if you will. We can look back and see Van Gogh as being more forward thinking in his art, it's as if his art should have existed at a later time but didn't. Right or wrong, it's up to personal taste and opinion, Van Gogh is seen as being ahead of his time and that is why he is considered to be a "genius". At least in my opinion. =p Plus, let's face it, a lot also had to do with the publication (I believe around the turn of the century) of his letters to Theo...people saw him as a romantic figure of sorts, an artist struggling with his work and the intriguing possible link between creativity and mental illness.

The bottom line, Bruce, is that we can't tell future generations what art is. We can't say, unequivocably, THIS IS ART because art is based on so much more than facts and figures. Art and the appreciation thereof is based on the mentalities, opinions, tastes, and sensibilities of the current generation. Art cannot be true, at least as far as eternal truths which remain true throughout changes in man (such as cats always sleeping in the most inconvienient spot they can find). Art can only be true to us.

I guess that's why I never listen to movie reviews. =p


A Few Pigments
09-20-2005, 04:44 PM
Thank you for your comments Carey. I agree with everything you said. I think it was all Napoleons fault really. He was not a nice man.

Sherry Richardson
09-20-2005, 07:42 PM
Nicely said, Carey. Excellent questions, Bruce.

I think that sometimes you can only tell whether something was really good art is after time has passed---you have to remove it from its political/ social context. I was studying art in college in the 70's, and believe me, it was a different time. To purloin an example from "dee-artist" that sums up that experience for me: --during that decade, dropping a tv set off the back of a truck was considered 'ART.' With all due respect to cutting-edge installation artists, I have to wonder if examples like that will stand the test of time. I personally feel that my art education was less than well-rounded, and we as artists were influenced by the prevailing winds. And we all know that the winds can change.

It just seems that great art exists outside of, and in spite of, its milieu. It can't be inflated, or in van Gogh's case, deflated, by the fashion of the day. Like cream, it will rise to the top.


A Few Pigments
09-21-2005, 01:08 AM
I agree Sherry it will rise to the top. I just hope it isnít high in cholesterol.

09-21-2005, 10:07 PM
I guess an introduction is in order. I've never done a MoM, in fact I've never posted anything to the oil painting forum at all. I'm 42 years old and have sketched a little forever. Around 1999 I bought some WN water-soluble oils and related stuff and started dabbling in oil painting. I completed a few paintings, then I started one that I couldn't bring myself to finish for some reason. It's been sitting around for a couple of years and I just can't seem to finish it and it's blocked me from painting anything else. I have this burning desire to paint but just can't seem to get anything going. Partly because I think I have to have some great, original, mind blowing idea before I can start. So I don't start. The other day I stumbled accross this MoM and thought that this might be a way to get going again. No pressure to come up with something original, just copy an exsiting painting. A good learning experience and most importantly, it would get me painting again. So, before I chickened out, I did a quick 5 minute loose sketch to get a feel for it. Very dull woodless graphite pencil in 9X12 sketchbook.
One baby step done... good enough for Monday.
On Tuesday, examined the painting closely and it looked to me like it had been painted on a light yellow ground. So I took a 16X20" canvas and toned it with thinned yellow ochre (I read later that it might not be a good idea to add too much water to WS oils but... too late; damage done). Second baby step done.
Today it seemed to be dry already so I did a freehand sketch of the main elements directly onto the canvas with charcoal. Third baby step done.
So this is where I stand at this point. I thought I'd better post something before I chickened out. Posting this gives me a sense of accountability and may push me to continue. Anyone see any major issues to this point? I think the next step is just to start slapping on thick paint with a pretty small brush correct?

Sorry for the long winded post but maybe watching me go through these little steps might help someone else lurking here who is in a similar situation that I've found myself in. C&C more than welcome, I'm here to learn.

A Few Pigments
09-22-2005, 01:03 AM
Hi Foil, Youíll find many people here have a story similar to yours. The most difficult step is always the first one so give yourself a pat on the back for taking it. Your sketch has a good loose style to it and you have a good start to your painting. Donít feel intimidated about doing a MOM. People of all skill levels do MOMís. Just have fun with it and youíll do a great job.

Van Gogh usually painted without an underpainting so you could just slap paint on. With a 16 x 20 inch support a number 3 or 4 hog bristle round would work, but some people like larger brushes. Good luck with your painting.

09-22-2005, 03:40 PM
Hi All, (and a new hello to Foil, this is my first MOM too - I will watch your progress with interest) and I am really glad I participated, I have really enjoyed taking part and look forward to more MOM's.
Here is my finished wheat field with rising sun.
Just added the final little orangey trees on the left and added few dabs here are there.

hurrah for everyone participating and of course to Van Gogh :)

09-23-2005, 05:34 AM
Hi Foil...looks good! May make you feel better that you're ahead of some of us. Still working on posting my first.


09-23-2005, 09:56 AM
Hi Sherry,
Have you posted any WIP on Boreas I would be interested to follow progress on your painting of the drapery in particular.

Sherry Richardson
09-23-2005, 02:57 PM
Hi Loulou---no, haven't posted anything of the Boreas yet. The face is giving me fits and I keep adjusting and reworking it. It's at an odd angle and the difficult part is in shadow, and I've made daily adjustments to the rascal. The fabric, on the other hand, has been a dream to paint. I hope to make some progress this weekend and I'll give you a peak. Thanks very much for asking.


09-27-2005, 09:56 AM
Thanks Nickel, I appreciate your comments :)

10-01-2005, 03:12 PM
I know everybody is done with Van Gogh and off to Dali but I finally put some paint onto the Van Gogh I started a couple of weeks ago. This is much harder than I expected. My results don't look much like Van Gogh's. Any idea where I'm going wrong? Wrong colours? Strokes too long? Paint too thin? I'm not sure. I'd appreciate any suggestions anyone might have before I go much further.
The detail shot seems a but blurry but hopefully you get see enough to give me some pointers.

My main goals in doing this was to learn and secondly just to paint something. I seem to be acheiving both of those even if it doesn't look anything like the original.

Sherry Richardson
10-02-2005, 12:53 AM

I don't think you are doing anything wrong, you just need to keep going. My personal opinion is that the colors don't matter, it's more about technique. The main thing about van Gogh's technique was that he put heavy strokes of color right next to each other. You just need to fill up that canvas, and you have a long way to go in that regard.

You have a wonderful start here. I think you'll like it a whole lot more when you get more paint on the surface. For the first hour of painting my VG, I was just sure it would never work, but after that it began to flow. It was a very freeing experience.

Don't worry that the month is over, keep posting your updates. We'll check back to see your progress. Keep up the good work.


A Few Pigments
10-02-2005, 02:25 AM
Hi Foil,

Nickel and Sherry have given you very good advice here. The only thing Iíd add is to look closely at the painting to see the order in which the colours were applied. Remember Van Gogh usually worked quickly wet into wet. If you prefer you could work wet on dry.

Looking closely at the sky youíll see the blues were put on first. It looks like he put on the light and mid values first because the dark values look thicker then the light and mid values. Then come white and then yellow.

The colours/values in the landscape seem to follow the same order as the colours/values in the sky with the darkest values being the thickest strokes.

The trees on the left seem to have been painted in the same colour/value order.

If you feel more comfortable painting this in a different order please feel free to do so. There are no hard and fast rules for the MOMís about how you paint your picture. It doesnít have to be an exact copy unless you have that as your personal goal. Just have fun, learn what you can and enjoy the experience. Good luck with your painting. :)

10-02-2005, 06:47 AM
Hi Foil,
I think you are doing great so far. I was aslo very apprehensive when I did my background painting and was unsure as to whether I would be able to achieve the lift and freestrokes I needed, but as Sherry said when you get to the finishing layers it all seems to get much easier. I agree with Bruce, there are no hard and fast rules, you only have to look at the different ways everyone has approached the painting. Sherry completed hers in a day, I took longer and painted both wet on dry and wet on wet. Whatever method you choose I am sure you will enjoy the experience and by the looks of what you have so far, finish with a great painting. :)

10-02-2005, 12:05 PM
Thanks for all the encouraging words. It's interesting about the order of the application of paint. Dark first, light later. I've been slapping on all the colours at the same time, quickly switcihing from one colour to the next, back and forth. So far I've used French Ultramarine, Cerulean Blue Hue, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Yellow Pale Hue, Phthalo Green (Blue Shade), and Titanium White. I guess I'll take everyone's advice and just keep plugging away but I will look more closely at the order in which Van Gogh applied his colours.

Thanks again.

10-04-2005, 09:47 PM
Thanks for checking up on me.... I did make a bit of progress this weekend. I changed the way I painted a bit so there is a difference between upper RH corner and the LH side. I might go back in later and touch up the RH side a bit. I was much less worried about trying to copy the original and had more fun.


Not sure about the Dali... I'll think about it...
(come to think of it, that's my biggest problem... thinking rather than doing)

Sherry Richardson
10-05-2005, 03:16 AM
Foil, this is looking great! You've made a lot of progress. I'm glad to see you mention the word "FUN." You're right, there's a point where, after you have laid the foundation, you get to cut loose and do your own thing---and have fun!

Keep going.


11-02-2005, 09:21 PM
Doh! I thought you'd all forgotten. Well I have made some progess but stalled out again. Maybe this is what I need to kick me back into gear! My camera broke (I sat on it) so I can't show you a progress picture now. I have completed the sky, the hills, and the bush in the forground. All I have left is the town and a little bit to the left of the bush.

Overall I'm fairly happy with the results so far but I still seem to have trouble getting the distict strokes that are obvious in the original. When I lay down a stroke it seems too dry or something, it's not very fluid. I'm using WN Water Soluable paints straight from the tube. Maybe I need to add something to it, not sure. As a result I sometimes have to go over a stroke a number of times to get coveage but then it tends to look too blended. I've also done whole sections of the hills and the bush where none of the yellow ground is visible. In Van Gogh's you can clearly see the ground throughough the entire picture. I think this problem is related to not being able to lay down the thick bold strokes in one stroke.

It's a good learning experience if nothing else. Thanks for checking up on me, I'll have to finish this thing off.

11-04-2005, 12:01 PM
I just checked out this thread LOL how did I miss this?-- one of my fav painters!!! you all rock!! wonderful renditions! :clap:

11-04-2005, 02:31 PM
I just checked out this thread LOL how did I miss this?-- one of my fav painters!!! you all rock!! wonderful renditions! :clap:
Jump on in... even though it says September, some of us are still working on this.

11-04-2005, 03:24 PM
LOL I would love to and still may--I am in the middle of an abstract class that is giving me fits and need to work on about 6 paintings-- to finish them... I may try a small one since I learned something about grids in the Dali forum... didnt paint though :)

11-26-2005, 11:17 AM
i'm a new member and just saw the van gogh posting. i have been working on a painting that combines several of van goghs works together, starry night, crows , irises, as soon as i can get a good picture i'll submit it for advice.

12-01-2005, 01:39 PM
Hi, well this is as far as i've gotten on my van gogh. i'm not sure if it's done yet, i'd welcome any advice on this. Also, is this kind of painting sellable? (copyright infringement etc. ) a lot of friends who have seen me working on it have expressed interest, any thoughts?http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/01-Dec-2005/71803-vincent2.jpg
I know the image isn't very clear , I had to use my cell phone camera, here are some detail pictures that might be helpful.http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/01-Dec-2005/71803-vincedetail.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/01-Dec-2005/71803-vincesdetail.jpg

12-04-2005, 11:24 PM
good stuff,

gigih - your painting makes me want to cry

Nikel - post up - keep it going

12-05-2005, 07:27 PM
hey bowdog, thanks for the kudo's . no need to cry, here's a better picture ( i think i finally figured out this camera ).feel free to print a copy and let me know if you're working on your own masterpiece!http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/05-Dec-2005/71803-visions_of_vincent.jpg

12-05-2005, 09:01 PM
Well I might just take you up on that offer to let me copy this.

It amazes me every time I get an idea, I head over here to WC and someone else [or a lot of someone elses] has already been there, and done that..

Check out these items on ebay to see what I mean.
Tell me your painting doesn't fit the idea of these:

Item number: 7370695787 (http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item=7370695787&ssPageName=STRK:MESE:IT)

Item number: 7371127293 (http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item=7371127293&ssPageName=STRK:MESE:IT)


12-06-2005, 03:44 PM
ok I see what you mean ( great paintings by the way). so I guess we aren't the first to think of this. I love your idea of van gogh painting starry night, thats a great idea. thanks for sharing!!

01-11-2006, 09:41 AM

Well, not near as cool as yours, but a lot of fun to paint. Putting irises in a Starry night painting - Brilliant! [as those Guiness guys would say]

01-11-2006, 09:44 AM
Now if I added the wheatfield, crows, maybe a postman, lady rocking a baby, couple 3, 4 dutch dudes digging...

How many van Gogh paintings can I combine into one??????

02-17-2006, 10:35 AM
hey, sorry i haven't been around bowdog, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!! Thanks, your painting looks great. how about a still life with skull, sunflowers irises and vincent painting them. we could get relly silly with this you know!I was really thing of one with vincent fighting with gaugain over a "lady" and losing his ear?

03-20-2006, 07:12 PM
I kind of lost interest for a while but I'm back at it. Still need to finish the town....


Sunu Tri
03-28-2011, 11:53 PM
Hi, it seems that this is quite an old thread and i'm trying to bring it up :0
Here is my copy of Starry night, my first painting and I feel in love with van Gogh's works.



Reproduction of "Starry Night" of Vincent Van Gogh, Oil on canvas,
70X55 cm

12-31-2012, 12:56 PM
I did one last year;) http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/31-Dec-2012/1111142-image.jpg It still hung on my home.