Updated: Apr 7
Is there a particular art work that inspired you?
My first thought is: No, there are hundreds, if not thousands. How can I choose one? But then I do remember one: it was probably the first to have a significant impact on me. On the wall in my childhood bedroom, my parents had put up a print of van Gogh’s painting Fishing Boats on the Beach at Saintes-Maries. It was one of only two seascapes that he painted. It just sat there for a while mostly unnoticed but, over time, it developed a kind of power over me, a quiet sort of magnetism or presence to move me somehow. Nothing dramatic or even explainable, but subtly insistent. Looking back, I think now that was when I discovered the power of visual art.
Much later, in my mid 20’s, I traveled for almost a year all over Europe on a traveling fellowship from my art school. While visiting the Netherlands I made a point of visiting the Kroller-Mueler Museum in the village of Otterlo. Located in the northeastern part of the country, the museum has the second largest collection of van Gogh’s in the world. Upon entering the museum and seeing literally dozens and dozens of his paintings on the walls, that childhood feeling of ineffable awe was multiplied exponentially, and this was from merely entering the room and not yet focusing on particular paintings.
If you are a visual artist, this emotional connection with may many works of art throughout the history of art is a must, I think. To be a good painter, you must love art, lots of art. To be a good viewer you must be open minded, patient, and really look. I think all of us are seeking, consciously or unconsciously, a universal connectivity when we look at art, listen to music, read literature or poetry, watch ballet, etc. It can’t be forced, as it has to engage us, but, some effort and willingness is required on our part. The sense of connection with the universal (higher power?) feels just about as good as anything else can feel and art can get you there by paying attention and letting it in.
Vincent van Gogh (1853 – 1890) was a Dutch Post-Impressionist painter who created over 850 oil paintings. His works include landscapes, still lifes, portraits and self portraits. Although commercially unsuccessful during his lifetime, today he is considered to be one of the most important and influential Western painters.