Wanted: Earnest Duffers

Vincent Van Gogh is responsible for creating almost 900 oil painting and some 1,300 watercolors, sketches and drawings, not including his many small sketch books.

He embarked on his artist’s path around 1880 although his first “major” oil painting, the Potato Eaters. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vincent_Van_Gogh_-_The_Potato_Eaters.png, wasn’t painted until 1885.  He reportedly drew a lot as a child, (which was a common pastime for women and children), but you couldn’t tell it initially. This first painting, like all his early works, was a rudimentary image in neutrals.  He showed little promise as an artist.

His last painting, Wheat Field with crows, was painted in July of 1890, just before his untimely death. http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/powerofart/popups/vangogh.shtml

I viewed this painting in Los Angeles at a major retrospective.  There was a throng around all of the paintings, but around this one the crowd formed an impromptu semi-circle. The space in the middle pulsed with the energy of the artist and his viewers. As tears began to well in my eyes, I looked quickly at the other faces, embarrassed that someone might have seen my somewhat puzzling response to the moment.  But I wasn’t alone–the emotion was palpable.

He describes his aim in painting- “In both figure and landscape … I want to get to the point where people say of my work: that man feels deeply, that man feels keenly.” I think he succeeded.

Robert Hughes in an article in The Guardian stated: “And yet the amazing fact – and it has never ceased to be amazing – is that this earnest duffer pupated into one of the great visionaries of western art.”

Despite his passion for his art and the integrity with which he made it, he only sold one painting, Red Vineyard at Arleshttp://0.tqn.com/d/painting/1/0/K/c/2/Van-Gogh-Red-Vineyard.jpg   He found this frustrating and humiliating, but he continued to pursue the only thing he thought was worth doing. He had faith in the endeavor.  He stayed honest and true and painted what he had to regardless of public acceptance.

He painted 39 self-portraits.

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