Photo credit: Helene Anne Fortin
I believe it was ninth grade – maybe tenth – when my art teacher presented a series of Van Gogh paintings set to Don McLean’s “Vincent” (Starry, Starry Night). I immediately fell in love; both with Vincent and my art teacher. One of those loves continues to haunt me, and it isn’t my long extinguished crush on Mr. Pearson.
Why the unfaltering attachment to Van Gogh? Vincent’s vibrant colors, brushstrokes, and textures fascinate me – along with the jaw dropping transformation of his paintings from various vantage points in the room. He’s not alone in this creative feat, of course, but he in particular speaks to me.
So, this week I checked off a significant item from my bucket list: I visited the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam and got to observe, firsthand, the legacy of a passion filled life. The pure volume of his pieces, and the visceral beauty of each one of them, literally brought me to tears.
Beyond the artwork itself, I was also struck by his seemingly unrewarded determination and obsessive pursuance of craft. It’s unfathomable and yet makes perfect sense. “I am not an adventurer by choice but by fate,” he said. Once he’d heeded the call to creativity, he had no option but to continue.
I have a new favorite painting of his since visiting the museum entitled, “Undergrowth.”
Copy and paste the following link for a virtual visit to this painting. Not that virtual visits really do anything justice, but…
To me this piece of art represents the depths of our own character. Nuances that reveal themselves in entirely different ways given the angle, the distance, and the eyes of the observer. From every possible perspective, “Undergrowth” altered itself before me and became increasingly more vibrant. In my experience, our souls – given the right circumstances – can do the same.
Right this minute I’m sitting aboard a train from Paris to Rotterdam, and the setting sun is busy altering the images through my window. I have a new appreciation for the rich blues and greens that inspired the genius who now inspires me – and a burgeoning love for bucket lists. Make one if you haven’t already, and start checking things off. The world will never look the same again and neither will you.