Lessons Learned From A Master

The Postman, Vincent van Gogh, 1889

The Postman, Vincent van Gogh, 1889

I’ve loved Impressionist and post-Impressionist art ever since I can remember. The vibrant use of color and light, and the texture created by brush and paint alone have always enchanted me. So, of course I was thrilled to learn about a new Vincent van Gogh exhibit at The Phillips Collection in Washington D.C. Titled Van Gogh Repetitions (October 12, 2013 – January 26, 2014) the show takes a new look at some of the artists more familiar work.

The cool part is that the exhibit lets us study van Gogh’s genius and technique while it focuses on a life lesson for any artist: that of repetition.  Yep, even van Gogh recreated and repainted the same composition over and over again.

By placing together paintings that are usually displayed separately the curators of this show have allowed us a sneak peek into the thought process of this famous master. Lectures and educational tours at the Phillips (and the Cleveland Museum of Art, March 2 – May 26, 2014) offer up the details into van Gogh’s technique, as he repeated his subject matter and reworked his ideas. For me, for now, it’s enough to know that the old adage “practice, practice, practice” can’t be repeated enough. (Sorry!) Here are examples of variances in one studied subject, and the perfection of getting it just right that we all aim for as designers and artists.

Portrait of Joseph Roulin, Vincent van Gogh, 1889

Portrait of Joseph Roulin, Vincent van Gogh, 1889

I find it timely that this exhibit coincides with National Portfolio Days across the country. When getting your portfolio reviewed and critiqued – and as you continue to build it – remember the passion and steps that van Gogh took.

I hope you get a chance to see this exhibit in person. If you do, please let me know. I’d love to hear what you learned from this master.

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