Monday, February 27, 2012

My husband and I went to the art museum the other day. I love the St. Louis art museum, and every time I go am amazed at the quality and quantity of world famous art, and the fact that there is no admission fee!
We walked around in the impressionists area first, both having just read the newest biography on Van Gogh, we wanted to see some of his work up close. We've seen it before, but each time you look at his work, its as if he has just finished, you can see it in it's unframed state, leaning up against the wall drying. His work is truly alive, and the photos never do it justice. The thick paint, the swaths of vibrant, intense color, the movement - it's as if all that he couldn't "be" in his life, is there in his painting. The friendships he wanted, but couldn't sustain, the love and family he ached for his entire life, but could never quite reach. His quest to follow Christ, to do his work, to help the needy; and his fall from grace. His drive to observe and record people, an observation that most of the time took the place of genuine interaction in his life. This need to draw people in their daily activities, the quest to unearth what was underneath the facade; Van Gogh relentlessly worked at portraiture and people- It's what he always went back to but was never able to get the recognition or satisfaction from it that he needed. And although the "potato eaters"- the painting of a peasant family sharing potatoes and tea around a table- was seen as the earliest in expressionistic painting, that's not what he was striving for. He wanted to do it "right" - he wanted to capture people, but could never do it the way that he wanted, in life or in his art.
So I guess it is with all artists, what we strive for in life, we strive for in our art to some degree. "Who" you are comes out in your work- peeks through, sometimes taunting, sometimes celebrating, but always present and alive in what we put on paper or canvas. The soul of the work is the soul of the artist and creator, as it is in life. So the next time you get out your paints , or clay, or graphite, or whatever it is that you utilize in your art, be looking for the clues that you leave about yourself, some you may not even be aware of.

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