Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My Introduction to Van Gogh - "Cafe Terrace"

     If you ask me what is my favorite painting so far, I think I am supposed to say I haven't painted it yet.  But if I really look around the paintings I kept, meaning the ones I haven't given away to my friends, it would be "Cafe Terrace, Place du Forum, Arles at Night." 
     The idea of painting a Van Gogh came from my girlfriend Jackie who now lives in Texas.  Back in 2002, I asked her for a painting suggestion and she simply said, "paint a Van Gogh."  I got a book on Van Gogh and picked this very colorful night scene.  The thought was that if it came out half way decent, I was going to give it to her.  Somehow, after it was completed, I found it hard to part with.  I never told her which Van Gogh I picked to paint, so I painted another Van Gogh for her.  She loved her painting and it was framed and displayed in her home in New York and later, traveled to Texas with her.  I get to keep this one.  : )
Lessons Learned and Hindsight - At the time I painted my version of Cafe Terrace, I did not know much about Van Gogh's troubled life nor how much I would learn to love his work.  My sense is that in 1888 when he painted this, he must have had an optimistic period to paint with those wonderful bright colors.  I read that he was enthused by the idea of night painting.  It must had been a crisp clear evening to be able to see all those stars!  Just like the town's folks, you can't help but get drawn into the painting toward the open cafe for a drink and conversation.