ArtistWorks Blog

Justin BUA on Vincent Van Gogh

One of Justin BUA's favorite artists of all time is Vincent Van Gogh. To commemorate the anniversary of his death in 1890, he’s recorded a video where he explains just a few of the reasons why he was such an amazing artist:

Vincent Van Gogh is the quintessential artist. When you think of a tortured soul, somebody who would cut their own ear off like Van Gogh did, somebody who HAD to paint to live (and he did have to paint to live), someone almost driven to the insane asylum by his own creative genius… that was Vincent Van Gogh.

van gogh art

An introvert, a passionate, emotional artist who didn't really necessarily have the skill set, the facile technical ability of a John Singer Sargent, or a Zorn, or a Sorolla. But he had so much emotional energy and vitality in his strokes and in his imagination that he really represented a great true master.

And he really got and better as his life continued, he got to be a better and better draftsman.

His work is so powerful, so emotional, and so deeply profound. You can feel like he takes the soul and the imagination of the sitter and he puts it up on canvas.

Even his palletes were so unusual, that's partly because he's not technicalyl trained. Obviously he's trying to paint realistically, but he's got this kind of sickly tone for the flesh color, and he uses that tone and puts it in the background. So he keys that character, and then he puts that red there - that strange red, which is complimentary color mixing. And that sets it off, it creates this kind of energy that's vibrating against each other. So he's really kind of intuitively playing with complimentary color mixing, and intuitively playing with people's emotions and people's energies.

van gogh painting

And then when he paints a still life, it's not a still life - it's not normal, no it's alive. It's energy, those sunflowers have personalities. They have a magnetic charm about them and he's able to capture the sprit and the life force and vitality of that.  

van gogh still life sunflowers

Even a sunset: it's not a normal sunset, it's not a bucolic sunset. It's this really painful, passionate, powerful sunset that's beaming into the field.  It's all in warm light and then the sower that's laying seeds is in cool light.  What a really wild dichotomy of warms and cools, and upon closer inspection we see that he's painting with a pallet knife and it's really thick and creamy and layered. It's deep and that really echoes the spirit of how Van Gogh paints. He paints with his soul. He doesn't paint with his hand, he doesn't paint with his head. He paints with his heart. He paints with conviction.

And that's why, in my mind, Vincent Van Gogh makes it into the canon of the top ten greatest artists in the history of the world. It shows you that he doesn't have to have Michelangelo’s drawing ability or Rembrandt's painting ability - because he's got the soul and the sprit of a great artist. And he's able to convey that. Because a great painter can capture the soul and the essence of the sitter and put that into the canvas. They're able to do that.

Van Gogh was one of the few artists in history who painted with his heart, and welcomed us all in to experience how he sees the world through his eyes. And when we do, we feel something. We might not know how he did it, we might not really care - but we feel something that powerful, evocative, haunting, and genius. He is a true genius, a true master. So for all of you who don't know him, get to know him. And for all of you who do, I'm sure you can agree with me.

van gogh sunset

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