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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Traveling with Van Gogh


It is snowing outside, several inches have accumulated. I can hear the furnace kicking in and out. Jeremy is busy in the kitchen cooking us oatmeal. I'm enjoying blogging from the living room where I can both watch the flakes swirl on the front step and catch a glimpse of J as he moves about.

It's a good life.

This week as an art project, we did a reproduction in oil pastels of van Gogh's Road with Cypresses, c.1890. They turned out amazingly, especially when displayed as a collection. It was moving to see the kids so into it, mixing color, smudging, creating.

I've had a lot of interest in van Gogh for a while now. Reading the letters that he sent to his brother Theo is such a personal way to get to know a self. I miss that no one writes letters anymore. I know, email... but it lacks the romance of letter writing. Not only did Vincent write many letters and paint a lot of pictures, he also walked countless miles. In his letters he details the ordinary beauty of the many country groves and city streets he made his way through. I bring this knowledge to his work when I view it. Brings out the reality in the impressionism.

Next summer when I go travelling, I'm allowing books I've read to help guide me. For instance, my interest in van Gogh is pushing me toward spending a week in Amsterdam where an entire museum is dedicated to his work. Just imagining it is warming me to the core on this wintry day.

Drawings have always been the P.S. part of van Gogh's work, ...
Yet he was a letter writer, a guy with a pen in his hand.
Colta Ives

9 comments:

Bob said...

I like the idea of going to Amsterdam.

I remember feeling quite moved by Van Gogh's life story.

As a student I had a print of Van Gogh's Starry night on my wall. Now there's a co-incidence as I used the words 'starry night' in my blog post written about thirty minutes ago!

christiana said...

Hey, I just found your blog today. I like it. I was trying to find another way to say 'in my element' and instead found this and your Van Gogh reflections. I think you have it right when you say it brings out the reality of it.

joanne said...

i too have been recently so captivated to read Van Gogh's letters... i really had no idea of his extensive letter writing until i read one of my favorite books on writing of all time (Brenda Ueland's "If You Want to Write") and discovered a taste of his letter writing... i was awestruck...

i so agree with you about letter writing... there is nothing more beautiful than sending and receiving a letter in the mail ... the touch of the paper and every stroke of the pen ... even the smell... and just imagining your friend sitting down somewhere to write it brings their heart right into yours as if they were sitting right next to you... like an embrace... hearts that are separated by miles who bridge the gap of that distance with their words sent over the miles .... i love how love doesn't know anything about boundaries or distance ...

i always loved having a pen pal when i was a little girl... i still have many of those letters written back and forth, and it is such a treasured time on a rainy day to go back over them and read them again...

i so so love the art project with the children you describe... how wonderful to imagine those little fingers creating... makes my face smile and my heart sigh :)

Smarts said...

Bob, does this mean you will be traveling with me to Amsterdam next summer? :-)

I feel a lot of affinity with van Gogh. Part of me wants to reach out and help him, to make life lighter for him. It seems like his life was very much "seriousness and weight and eternity" to borrow from Rilke.

Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. A

Smarts said...

Hi Christina, it was great to have you stop by! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Angela

Smarts said...

Hi Joanne! I was thinking about something else when it comes to letters that is so wonderful... people leave them behind long after they are gone. And they are such an incredible treasure of all that we loved about that person and the people who loved them back.

I think I'm going to make it a point to write a few letters to some special people in my life! In this busy day and age what could be a better gift that honoring someone with your words and time. You should read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society - the whole book is written in letters.

PS ~ 8 yr olds engaged in art is one of the best parts of my job!

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