Phoebe’s Post:Vincent Willem van Gogh

19th century painter. He was born in Holland in 1853 and was brought up in a religious environment, as his father was a pastor, and he himself aspired to be one. He only discovered his artistic gift later in life and started drawing at the age 27. Within a time span of 10 years he created thousands of works of art: paintings, drawings, watercolors, lithographs.

His work was, in the beginning, influenced by the greatest impressionist artists of his time, Monet, Gaugin Pissarro, whom he met when he went to Paris to join his brother Theo, who was the manager of Goupil’s gallery. However, he soon developed his own unique artistic style with the so distinct bright colors, the distorting and flowing forms and shapes and the vibrant swirling brush strokes.

Van Gogh suffered from temporal lobe epilepsy as well as other mental and physical conditions, which affected both his artistic work and his life in general. During the last years of his life, he was hospitalized in various clinics.

In 1890, at the age of 37, Van Gogh took his own life. His artistic ingeniousness went unnoticed during his lifetime. He only became famous after his death and kept influencing artists even centuries after his death.

Van Gogh was one of the artists featured in the art book that Alex had gotten me for my birthday. The more I read about him the more fascinated I got. He had led such a short and tormented life and yet had managed to accomplish so much. To see the world through his eyes was like stepping into a kingdom of magic and madness.

I carried that book with me everywhere, along with a sketchbook. I went through the photos again and again, studying every detail and then I tried to imitate the style and technique by drawing city landscapes, distant human figures and flowers. It was then that I discovered that drawing actually made me happy.

My drawings were not masterpieces mind you, but they were not so bad either. I hang a few in our attic, but I gave the best ones to Daisy, as gift for everything that she had done for us.
Apart from awaking my artistic side, Van Gogh also inspired my second tattoo. There was one of his latest works that I really loved. Almond Branches in Bloom was its title. Expanding branches with white flowers against a silky blue background. It doesn’t sound that great, I know, but it filled me with a sense of peace and joy every time I looked at it. If I ever am lucky enough to have my own little house, I’d love to have a wee garden with a tall tree in it; a tree with white flowers to sparkle against the bright blue of the sky.

So, one day I picked up my art book and visited the tattoo artist that had made our first tattoos. I showed him the picture of Van Gogh’s painting and explained to him what it realty signified for me. He smiled and took out his sketchbook and started drawing lines and shapes and filling them with shadows. The result was very close to Van Gogh’s original, but with much less color and far more ethereal and eerie.

“I thought that like that it might suit better your other tattoo”, the tattoo guy told me.

And it did. It really did.

“Do it”, I said.

He did and let me tell you guys it looked beautiful. And it made the boys go a bit green with envy. Haha!

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