Through the years, though, and especially when I teach, Van Gogh comes back again and again- and every time I look at his work I see something different. The last lesson I taught using Van Gogh as inspiration revolved around his pen and ink drawings. I can look at those studies forever. His incredibly efficient eye was able to gather an extraordinary amount of detailed information from something like the leaves of a tree, or a dense brush of foliage beneath the trees, or the individual blades of grass in a huge field. I picture him intently staring down his subjects for hours, relishing in, or perhaps damning, his uncommon powers of observation. It is a great lesson in focus and determination and at times keeps me from being extra lazy in my own work.
|Vincent Van Gogh|
|Vincent Van Gogh|
Years ago I read a wonderful book called Daybook. One of a series of memoirs by sculptor Anne Truitt. In it she talks about being near sighted for years as a child before she finally got glasses. She attributes her artwork- her particular visual language and means of observation to this fact of seeing the world slightly out of focus for a small chunk of her life. I was astonished when I read this because I too am near sighted and related very much to Ms. Truitt's story. Although I got glasses to correct my sight as soon as it was noticed, I admit that I voluntarily walk around in a foggy blur most of the time because I don't like to actually wear my glasses. I can understand Ms. Truitt's peculiar way of categorizing visual information in clumps of color and clumps of contrast because that's how I see things too. Needless to say, it was a revelation! but it also made me realize that there are in fact different ways of seeing, and maybe the blue that I see really isn't the same exact blue that you see.
Some of us could never even find the needle in the haystack let alone be able to focus in on it long enough to create an amazing drawing of it-
so, thanks to Vincent and all those extraordinary artists