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Paint Your Dreams... Paint Like Van Gogh.

Updated: Jan 12

“I dream my painting and I paint my dream.”

Have you heard this quote before? Can you imagine how genius a person would be to dream up and paint his paintings? What a wonderful thing that mixes reality and imagination. This distinguished the paintings of the author of the quote "Van Gogh." Paint like Van Gogh means to paint with passion.

How to paint like Van Gogh? This article will be a captivating journey into Van Gogh's painting style.

Who is Van Gogh?

"Van Gogh's life was full of turmoil, loneliness, and pain."

Vincent Willem van Gogh was born in the Netherlands to a priest father named Willem van Gogh in 1853, His mother was the artist "Anna Carpentus", He was born on the same day, a year after the death of his brother with the same name and some believed that this caused him a psychological crisis because he felt that he might be a "substitute son" for his dead brother.

But there is nothing to confirm this belief, in his childhood, his family was suffering from financial problems, which led Vincent to leave school at the age of 15 to work in a shop for his uncle, and in this store, Vincent learned many languages, including French, German, and English.

When it comes to art, you see that many artists started their artistic careers at an early age, but this was not the case with Van Gogh. Vincent began his artistic career in the late twenties and early thirties, but he showed creativity that many artists did not show in many years.

Therefore, Van Gogh attended a technical school in Brussels, Belgium where he learned the basic theory. After leaving school, he returned to his father's house in the country. Here, he honed his skill in painting landscapes and interpreting human experience through art.

Van Gogh produced more than 2,100 artworks over ten years only! Among them are 850 oil paintings and more than 1,300 watercolors, and this is a large number that many artists today fear to reach.

Unfortunately, although Van Gogh's paintings are now sold for millions of dollars, Van Gogh only sold one painting during his lifetime, Van Gogh's career did not continue due to the deterioration of his mental health.

Van Gogh's mental deterioration.

Van Gogh Saint-Paul Asylum collection is a collection of paintings that Vincent van Gogh made from May 1889 until May 1890.

On 8 May 1889, Van Gogh, in his late thirties, was a self-admitted patient at the Saint-Paul asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. During his stay at Saint Paul asylum, Van Gogh experienced periods of illness when he could not paint.

When Van Gogh was able to resume, painting provided solace for him. While, works of the interior of the hospital corridors and cells convey the isolation and sadness that he felt, paintings depicting trees, and flowers were a symbol of the cycle of life.

In Saint Paul asylum, Van Gogh had two cells with barred windows, one of which he used as a studio, some of his works from this time are characterized by swirls, such as The Starry Night.

From the window of his cell, he saw an enclosed wheat field, the subject of many paintings made in his room. When he could leave the grounds of the asylum, he made other works, such as Olive Trees (Van Gogh series) and landscapes of the local area.

As Van Gogh ventured outside of the asylum walls, he painted the wheat fields, olive groves, and cypress trees of the surrounding countryside, over the year, he painted about 150 canvases.

The imposed regimen of asylum life gave Van Gogh a hard-won stability: "I feel happier here with my work than I could be outside. By staying here for a good long time, I shall have learned regular habits and in the long run, the result will be more order in my life."

While his time at Saint-Rémy forced the management of his vices, such as coffee, alcohol, poor eating habits, and periodic attempts to consume turpentine and paint, his stay was not ideal. He needed to obtain permission to leave the asylum grounds. The food was poor; he generally ate only bread and soup.

By early 1890 van Gogh's attacks of illness had worsened and he believed that his stay at the asylum was not helping to make him better. This led to his plans to move to Auvers-sur-Oise just north of Paris in May 1890.

Post-Impressionism...Van Gogh's Style.

The tendency towards Expressionism in Van Gogh's post-impressionistic artworks like "The Potato Eaters, Portrait of Père Tanguy, L'Arlésienne, At Eternity's Gate" is obvious.

In Van Gogh's paintings with remarkably spontaneous Brushstrokes, while realistic color tones were not his challenge, we see one of the early trials of focusing on feelings. Van Gogh's expressed not the objective reality but rather the subjective emotions and responses that objects and events arouse within a person.

Van Gogh used paint to convey solely inner life, frequently via the depiction of brutal and harsh topics. He used Expressionism not only to express his feelings but also as a tool of societal commentary.

How TO Paint Like Van Gogh?

"Some steps that may help you paint like this artist."

1. Start with an underpainting

Acrylic paint diluted with water and let dry, or lean oil paint.

2. Divide the artboard into a grid

Divide each side into thirds even. Don't use a ruler - there's no need for precision here to use a subtle darker mixture of burnt sienna and ultraviolet blue to draw your grid on your canvas. It will help you transfer and place large shapes on the canvas. Van Gogh built a camera lens and used it to help him transfer his vision to his canvas in a similar way.

3. Use the same thinned mixture to draw the largest shapes onto your canvas.

Use a smaller brush; I like a size 2 natural bristle hair filbert. If you make mistakes, you can easily wipe this off with a paper towel or rag soaked with some mineral spirits. Study the lines in each grid on your reference photo and transfer those proportions onto your canvas. Again, focus on the placement of the largest and most important shapes. Avoid any detail and don't worry about perfection in drawing and positioning. You will adjust this as you paint. For now, it is more about getting the overall composition.

4. Study the main colors in the image

There is no real formula for mixing these colors. There are many ways to come up with similar colors. But always try to find the best and closest options.

5. copy Van Gogh's paintings

Imitating or copying the paintings will help you more in understanding Van Gogh's paintings, the colors used, and the tools you should use.

Remarkable Paintings By Van Gogh.

Starry Night, 1889

One of his most recognizable Van Gogh had been suffering from mental health concerns before this period, so much so that he hacked off his left ear. Following this episode, he was admitted to the Saint-Paul-de-Mausolea institution in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence in 1888 to recover.

Van Gogh - Starry Night oil painting
Van Gogh - Starry Night

The scene depicted in Starry Night was inspired by the view seen by Van Gogh from his asylum bedroom. The artist's technique and the emotive nature of his color usage have become synonymous with the swirling blues of the starry night sky.

Sunflowers, 1889

During his period in Arles, South of France, in 1888-89, Van Gogh painted five paintings of sunflowers in a vase using just yellow and a hint of green.

Sunflowers by Van Gogh, 1888
Sunflowers by Van Gogh, 1888

Van Gogh said that sunflowers symbolized "thanks" to him and put one in his home. Later, while living with him for a brief time, his friend and fellow artist Paul Gaugin expressed his admiration for the works and begged Van Gogh for one of them, which he was granted. This replica is now on display in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

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