Van Gogh and my favourite paintings

Van Gogh Starry Night

Van Gogh art contest

Last week I posted a drawing of mine on Instagram and Facebook, based on a painting of Van Gogh.
I made this piece as a contribution to an art contest organized by the Van Gogh Museum and Royel Talens. Here I could win a prize like nice art supplies from Talens or a Van Gogh monopoly game.

One of the requirements to join was to write below the Instagram post why the painting you chose inspires you. As I was writing this, I found out that I had a lot more to say about the painting so I decided to write a blogpost about it.

Wheatfield with crows

For the contest I chose a painting that is actually on display in the Netherlands. In my opinion this is the most beautiful painting made by Van Gogh that you can find in the Netherlands. It is a painting with a threatening, dark sky. I see a clear night sky with two moons or maybe two large bright stars. The sky is painted in a lot of different directions which gives it the illusion of movement from the left side of the painting to the right side. The colours vary from light blue to almost black.

The rest of the canvas, two thirds, is wheatfields and roads. At first glance, you see yellow fields and brown roads. But if you really start to look at the colours, you see what a true artist Van Gogh was. He can perform magic with colours; he makes you think you see gold fields of wheats but you’re looking at a lot more. In the wheats you can find black, brown, orange, white and a lot of different shades of green and yellow. In the roads you can find the same colours and more, like aquamarine, bright blue and turquoise.

In the wheatfields you can find just as much movement as in the sky. You can see Van Gogh understood the world because the wheats have shorter movement than the sky. In the sky you can see large quantities of air being moved around but the wheats can only stretch as far as they are long.

The sky and the wheats don’t necessarily give this painting a grimm feeling. This is, in my opinion, because of the flying crows. They fly along in the direction of the wind. I think I recognize this feeling. I remember stormwinds blowing cold but not too cold, refreshing but ruthless. As if it is trying to pull the thoughts from your mind. I can imagine that a wind like that can scare crows off.

This painting gives me a sense of peace and quiet. To me, this painting is the moment right before you feel like that. Do you know the feeling that you want to get a breath of fresh air in the first autumn storm to clear your head? This painting has the same effect on me as a storm like that.

Starry night, my favourite

There is a painting I find even more impressive than wheatfields with crows: starry night. This painting seems simple and blue but it’s not. In this painting you might be able to find a hundred different shades of blue, different shades of green, yellow and red. There is black and white and orange.

The reason I did not choose this one for the contest is because I’ve never had the privilege to see this in real life.

One of the things I like about this painting are the lines. Van Gogh has a fantastic way of painting a certain direction and make shadows. Because of the way he paints, you can easily see what’s in the front and the back, what is left and right. He has found a way to make planes and lines like each other. The lines are the planes and vice versa.

This one gives me a pleasant feeling too. In the sky you can see the high winds, winds that can blow without being slowed down by something. Next to that, you can see the moon and the stars shine bright in the sky. But at the same time, this looks like a reflection in water.

Van Gogh directs your attention to the sky by painting two thirds of sky and only one third of houses, mountains and trees. The houses are there, like we can now never take a picture of a landscape in the Netherlands without seeing something build by humans. But they fall between the trees and the mountains, like they aren’t important right now.

The tree in the front is like you expect her to be. As if you are sitting on a hill or mountain with a pretty view over a valley but there is always something in your line of sight. This somehow helps you to look at everything far away. It gives some extra perspective. Because you can see something close, you are reminded how far away the far away is. And because the tree is painted darker than the sky, your eye immediately goes to the sky.

The feeling I get from this painting is peaceful. As if it is telling me that I don’t need to worry right now. It’s the middle of the night. All the worries and reality will be there in the morning. For now I can just breathe in the clean night air, feel the grass between my toes and fingers and stare at the sky.

Van Gogh Korenveld met kraaien
Van Gogh Starry Night

Marieke Noordhuis

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