Sunday, April 26, 2009


I am ever interested in the misunderstood persons who pepper our lives. Each one of us has, at times, felt the discomfort of being read incorrectly. When we have been misread, trying to convince the one who has misunderstood us is so often fruitless and frustrating. Complex personalities especially suffer in this regard. Even when we are well-acquainted with a complex person, we may impute wrong motives to their expressed thoughts and actions. For the misunderstood soul, life can be very frustrating, indeed. Sometimes the easiest way to express oneself can be through art. Since art is so visual, the artist's meaning can often be plainly expressed. When I think of oft-misunderstood persons, Vincent Van Gogh comes to my mind. Van Gogh undeniably had "issues". He was edgy and unstable. He was frequently depressed, and frequently hospitalized for his mental instabilities. Sadly, he died at a fairly young age by his own hand. I imagine he would have been a challenging person to befriend in life. I sense that he needed friends desperately. He needed to be understood and loved, as all humans do.

I attended a wonderful museum exhibit of Van Gogh's work a few months ago. Interestingly, some of the things that stood out consistently in his art are his compassion for humanity, his growth as a human and his evolving use of joyous color in his later works. Those who study Van Gogh often refer to his somewhat unhinged use of line and form in his art; but I can't help but appreciate the simple joy Van Gogh obviously found in nature, people and high-color contrasts. Color has a healing effect on our moods. To the extent possible, whether he realized it or not, art served as a form of self-therapy for Van Gogh. He was amazingly prolific, producing more than 2000 works in the last ten years of his life. I can only imagine what wonders he might have produced had he lived out a normal lifespan. In his lifetime, he only sold one of his paintings four months before his death. Ironically, now his works are studied and revered the world over.

Van Gogh's use of color inspires me in my own artwork. I love the quirkiness of line and form in his work, as well. The lines he used look as if the subjects of his works are melting together in a swirling riot of color. Van Gogh's art was incredibly expressive of his emotions and passions and utterly unique. I feel as if, in some small way, he has succeeded in revealing his inmost self to us and proved that he harbored great beauty inside his troubled exterior. What more could any artist hope to achieve?
"I dream of painting and then I paint my dream."
"A good picture is equivalent to a good deed."
"One may have a blazing hearth in one's soul and yet no one ever comes to sit by it. Passers-by see only a wisp of smoke from the chimney and continue on their way."
(All of the above quotes are by Vincent Van Gogh)


  1. Huh. This is so interesting. I had just written in my journal last night, "My hobby is really good for me. I have a lot of mental and emotional energy that needs an outlet. I'm too intense for people in lets me vent my intensity so I can come down to a normal level for people." I'm gonna be thinking on this some more.

  2. Van Gogh's art is so incredible. I think you were right when you said he really expressed his emotions in his art.