Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Lust for Strife

January 21, 2015
   As I mentioned yesterday I am in the middle of reading a massive Van Gogh biography and it is an almost moment by moment riveting slow-motion account of his train-wreck of a life. I am so immersed in the Dutchman's inner life that I find myself often wondering "What would Vincent do at this point?"

A Lust for Strife
   Well, for starters Vincent would offend where it wasn't necessary, attack when it was innapropriate and savage something when he had nothing to gain. An artist friend (but not for long, as the Dutch madman drove away any artist who tried to help him) had this to say about eating at the Van Gogh parsonage: "Suddenly, [Vincent] got so furious that he rose from his place with the carving knife from the tray in his hand and threatened the bewildered old man." The old man being his poor father, who tried again and again to understand his son, but to no avail. Dorus Van Gogh was driven to an early grave—he had a stroke at age 62—and everyone in the town and the family knew something that Vincent would not accept: "Only his plainspoken sister Anna dared to say to his face what the others were whispering: that Vincent had killed his father."

   Well, what about his loving mother? Certainly, she saw the potential in her oldest son? "Even after his death, when fame belatedly found him, she never regretted or amended her verdict that his art was 'ridiculous.'"

   So, how in the hell did he end up to be one of the most famous and influential artists of the modern era? Well, that story is even more crazy than the above, and I will reveal the incredible turns as we go along.

   Curator Cal brought over some sunflowers on the weekend and we have been enjoying them. This morning I noticed they were wilting which gave a kind of urgency to perhaps trying to draw them before they faded for good (an extension of the "Old Hat" discussion of yesterday).

A Lust for Strife: Inspiration comes in many forms but usually strikes when the coffee is hot

   One thing I learned from reading Vincent's letters and the bio on his life is that bailing in, head first, often jars the creative juices.

Daily Whip Outs: "Vincent Van Gunfighter"

   One of my notes from last week wondered what his life would have been like if he had been born in modern times and become a rock star, but as I drew the pitcher of sunflowers, above, I got the inspiration to do him as a gunfighter, which in a way he was. Also, note I have added a notation after the photo was taken at 6 a.m. this morning. It is all a progression, isn't it?

". . .it certainly is very doubtful that I shall ever succeed. . .[and] if I fail, I want to leave my mark here and there behind me."
—Vincent Van Gogh