Sunday, February 12, 2012

My Date With Vincent And Myself.

As a birthday gift to myself, on Saturday I went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art to see the incredible
exhibition "Van Gogh Up Close," the late works of my hero, Vincent van Gogh.

Like me, Vincent loved painting "en Plein Air," surrounded by nature, and the opportunity to respond not only to the visual, but the sounds, the smells, and the vagaries of weather.

Most of the paintings in this exhibition are ones I've never seen as originals. Vincent's art and dedication never cease to inspire me.

The curators, Joseph J. Rishel and Jennifer A. Thompson, gathered works that offer a comprehensive overview of Vincent's interests and influences at a tumultuous time in his short life. Of particular interest to me was the inclusion of Japanese woodblock prints, collected by Vincent; images  that influenced his use of line and sense of composition.

As you can see in this incredible painting of a woodland interior. It's all about all those "verticals," including the figure, complimented by the larger, but secondary, horizontal composition. This is a big lush painting. 

The galleries were packed with reverential viewers. I knew it would just be a matter of time before the guards saw there was an artist  their midst, drawing. I explained I really was only drawing my fellow Vincent lovers, and not the art; to no avail.

I felt a bit rejected, like poor old Vincent, but at the risk of getting eee-jected, I went to another gallery, with different guards, and snuck this little rough sketch. Don't tell.

After a quick lunch, I went out into the main galleries, where it's OK to draw, and spent a few hours trying to capture the majesty of this beautiful, almost life-size image; "The Moorish Chief," by
Eduard Charlemont. When I was an art student at PCA back in the sixties, I discovered this magnificent image almost hidden behind a door, at the top of a stairwell. Happily some enlightened curator eventually moved it to its current place of prominence, for all to enjoy.
As I did on this Saturday, having a date with myself.  



  1. The "The Moorish Chief," reminds me of Prince Valient comics..
    bet you were a fan

  2. Wonderful, lovely, and yet again, another glimpse of your creative life! Keep 'em coming...

  3. I certainly was a fan of Prince Valiant, and the artist, Harold Foster, who at one time also drew "Tarzan."
    And thank you so much, Amy, for your comments.

  4. Loved your story, the museum's artwork and your sketches!

    1. Thank you Katepaai.
      Our Philly museum is a wonderful place to
      meander through and draw within.

  5. Replies
    1. Don't think I've ever
      heard these words coming from
      your lips, Ms. PB.
      But I thank you.

  6. Hi William, That is one terrific birthday gift. He's my hero as well. I think one of the best drawings in the world is his "Pollard Birches" (1884). You didn't see it by any chance, did you? In autumn I bought the book Vincent van Gogh: A self-portrait in art and letters. It's so good (despite an unfortunate cover ; )