Art of the day: ‘The Starry Night’ by Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh is definitely one of my favorite artists and the one I feel I can relate to the most. Apart from sharing the love for a bit exaggerated, magical colors and shapes, we unite on battling the same monsters. Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, constant self-doubt and lack of confidence in his abilities and his works. I have experienced very similar feelings and fears since my adolescent years and battled them with varied success over the years. But, this post is not going to be about depression or sadness, on a contrary, there is a positive point I want to make.

I have done extensive research on the painting, the artist, his life, vision and meaning behind the painting and I want to bring the most interesting facts, quotes, and bits and pieces of information I found across many different sources.

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Type Oil on canvas Dimensions 73.7 cm × 92.1 cm (29 in × 36 1⁄4 in) Location Museum of Modern Art, New York City

Just as Van Gogh, I’ve always been attracted to the night. To him night was ‘more alive than the day’ and was the time of creativity, reflection and meditation after a day of activity and it brought with it a feeling of security and comfort. It was also kind of metaphor for the cycle of life. And he linked this with the changing of the seasons. However, van Gogh was aware that darkness could also conjure up feelings of loneliness and anguish.

The night sky  is mesmerizing. It looks as the stars in the painting are swirling and moving within it’s frame. You feel captured in this magical place and you don’t want to leave. ‘Starry night’ is the mixture of imagination and reality. While the village and location of the stars in the sky might reflect what he really saw from his window at a hospital in Saint Rémy, the church resembles with his memories of his motherland, the Netherlands.

When he looked at the night sky, he wrote to his brotherTheo in August 1888, he saw “the mysterious brightness of a pale star in the infinite.”
As he wrote to his sister Willemien van Gogh from Arles, “It often seems to me that the night is even more richly colored than the day, colored with the most intense violets, blues and greens. If you look carefully, you’ll see that some stars are lemony, others have a pink, green, forget-me-not blue glow. And without labouring the point, it’s clear to paint a starry sky it’s not nearly enough to put white spots on blue-black.” (678, 14 September 1888)
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In a letter written to Émile Bernard in April 1888, Van Gogh expressed his desire to paint the night sky, and questioned whether he could achieve his intention by painting from nature as the Impressionists did:

The imagination is certainly a faculty which we must develop and it alone can bring us to creation of a more exalting and consoling nature … A star-spangled sky, for instance, that’s a thing I would like to try to do … But how can I manage unless I make up my mind to work … from imagination?

In Arles, in 1888 and 1889, van Gogh’s paintings took on a mystical, dreamlike quality. Straight lines became wavy, colors intensified, thick paint became thicker, sometimes squeezed straight onto the canvas from the tube. Some of these changes were later taken as a sign of his madness, and even van Gogh feared that “some of my pictures certainly show traces of having been painted by a sick man.” But there was premeditation and technique behind these distortions, as he tried to put a sense of life’s mysteries into paint. In a letter to Wil, he explained that “the bizarre lines, purposely selected and multiplied, meandering all through the picture, may fail to give the garden a vulgar resemblance, but may present it to our minds as seen in a dream, depicting its character, and at the same time stranger than it is in reality.”

The artist’s focus on the relationship between dreams and reality—and life and death—had a profound meaning for him, as he had confided to Theo in a letter a year before his first crisis in Arles. “Looking at the stars always makes me dream, as simply as I dream over the black dots representing towns and villages on a map. Why, I ask myself, shouldn’t the shining dots of the sky be as accessible as the black dots on the map of France? Just as we take the train to get to Tarascon or Rouen, we take death to reach a star.”
“And these trees that are drawn almost like flames of fire very much allude to Van Gogh’s ongoing concern with afterlife, with eternity, with death, and with all these different forces, which indeed he does associate with the night.”

There are various interpretations of Starry Night and one is that this canvas depicts hope. It seems that van Gogh was showing that even with darkness it is still possible to see light in the windows of the houses, and with shining stars filling the sky, there is always light to guide you. It seems that van Gogh was finally being cured of his illness and had essentially found his heaven.

 

The drawing Cypresses in Starry Night, a reed pen study executed by Van Gogh after the painting in 1889. Originally held at Kunsthalle Bremen, today part of the disputed Baldin Collection
The drawing Cypresses in Starry Night, a reed pen study executed by Van Gogh after the painting in 1889. Originally held at Kunsthalle Bremen, today part of the disputed Baldin Collection

Another popular theory is about the biblical meaning behind the ‘Starry Night’.

Perhaps the real reason why the Van Gogh painting is so famous and appreciated today is not due to the negative emotions that may have initially inspired the artwork, but the strong feelings of hope Van Gogh conveys through the bright lights of the stars shining down over the dark landscape at night. In 1888, Van Gogh wrote a personal letter in which he described “a great starlit vault of heaven…one can only call God.” With a theologian for an uncle, Van Gogh himself was also religious, even serving as a missionary in his younger days. Many art scholars believe there is a hidden religious meaning to Starry Night. In the painting, the moon and stars in the night sky are surrounded by large halos of light while a church steeple stands out above the smaller, less detailed buildings in the town below. In fact, some art critics find a biblical meaning in the number of stars painted in Starry Night that alludes to specific Bible verse in Genesis.

Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, saying, “Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon and the eleven stars bowed down to me.” Genesis 37:9

 

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In a letter to his brother, Theo, van Gogh refers to Leo Tolstoy´s book My Religion and its lack of belief in resurrection. His use of the word ‘quiet’ and reference to Tolstoy´s book indicates that the night sky made him feel calm and brought to mind eternity.

Why did Van Gogh paint exactly 11 stars? By painting exactly eleven stars in the Starry Night painting, Vincent Van Gogh might have been directly referencing Genesis 37:9, a key verse in the biblical account of Joseph, a “dreamer” and an outcast in the company of his eleven older brothers. It isn’t hard to see why Van Gogh might have identified with Joseph in the Bible. In the Bible, Joseph was thrown into a pit, sold into slavery, and underwent years of imprisonment, much like Van Gogh did the last years of his life in the Arles asylum. No matter what Joseph did he could not receive the acceptance or respect of his 11 older brothers. Likewise, despite his best efforts, as an artist Van Gogh failed to receive the recognition of art critics of his day.

Van Gogh considered his now-iconic The Starry Night, which he painted from his barred window at Saint-Rémy, a failed attempt at abstraction. Before leaving Saint-Rémy, he wrote to Émile Bernard: “I have been slaving away on nature the whole year, hardly thinking of impressionism or of this, that and the other. And yet, once again I let myself go reaching for stars that are too big—a new failure—and I have had enough of it.”

Theo liked the painting but was worried. He wrote Vincent that “the expression of your thoughts on nature and living creatures shows how strongly you are attached to them. But how your brain must have labored, and how you have risked everything….” Vincent didn’t live to know that in his reaching for the stars, he had created a masterpiece.

While Van Gogh died a poor and disrespected artist, he is now one of the most famous and reproduced painters today. Within the madness, there was genius.

“It is inspiring to see how a man so plagued by sorrow and despair could turn his inner battles into glowing, vibrant canvases that still speak a message of hope and joy more than 100 years later”

Following the recent news on Robbin Williams death, I spent a lot of time thinking about how many lives could have been saved, how many wonderful things could have been created, if they did find the strength to say to themselves: “I am strong. I am valuable. I am worthy”. If only they knew the impact they have on the people around them, on the world and the Universe. If only they could see their problems from the perspective of eternal starry night sky. If only there was a family member or a friend holding their hand that would tell them: “I care for you. You are loved.”

If you came across this post and you’re battling depression and anxiety, I want you to know that I love you and you’re not lonely.  While I’m battling my own hardships, I understand what you’re going through and you can reach me out to vent, to cry, to smile and laugh and while I’m no specialist, I will hold your hand and give you all the support I can give. My e-mail is 1happyblog@outlook.com.

If you have a family member, a friend or anybody else suffering from mental disorders, please don’t just ignore them. A lot of times we are seen as people with ‘personal weaknesses’ or ‘drowned in self-pity’ and our condition is not taken seriously. There are times when we cannot help ourselves and if we could, do you really think that we would stay depressed and miserable? Sometimes, a small gesture, a nice word or just being by our side, can mean the world. Spread some love and I’m sure it will come back to you multiplied.

For more inspiration, I urge you to watch Doctor Who: ‘Vincent and the Doctor’ (Season 5, Episode 10). It literally brought tears to my eyes.

I’m going to leave you with a tribute to Vincent, a song called ‘Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)’ by Don McLean.

“Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)”

Starry, starry night
Paint your palette blue and gray
Look out on a summer’s day
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul

Shadows on the hills
Sketch the trees and the daffodils
Catch the breeze and the winter chills
In colors on the snowy linen land

Now I understand
What you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free

They would not listen, they did not know how
Perhaps they’ll listen now

Starry, starry night
Flaming flowers that brightly blaze
Swirling clouds in violet haze
Reflect in Vincent’s eyes of china blue

Colors changing hue
Morning fields of amber grain
Weathered faces lined in pain
Are soothed beneath the artist’s loving hand

Now I understand
What you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free

They would not listen, they did not know how
Perhaps they’ll listen now

For they could not love you
But still your love was true
And when no hope was left in sight
On that starry, starry night

You took your life, as lovers often do
But I could’ve told you Vincent
This world was never meant for
One as beautiful as you

Starry, starry night
Portraits hung in empty halls
Frame-less heads on nameless walls
With eyes that watch the world and can’t forget

Like the strangers that you’ve met
The ragged men in ragged clothes
The silver thorn of bloody rose
Lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow

Now I think I know
What you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free

They would not listen, they’re not listening still
Perhaps they never will

 

Beautiful soul, Vincent, I know I’ll meet you one day somewhere across the Universe and we’ll paint the sky purple and yellow.

For further reading:

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Thought of the day: Miracles are just around the corner

Some time ago I saw a beautiful blooming purple tree while driving  in the neighborhood. I really wanted to take a picture for use in one of my future drawings and few days ago we decided to walk there with my Dad. How much was I surprised to find not just one, but so many other purple blooming trees and flowers and even a waterfall built-in the wall of the park.

We took so many beautiful pictures, that now there is enough material for many more paintings and just had a lot of fun.

Spring is so beautiful and I’m living such a happy life and it all starts with gratitude. When you look on the bright side, when you find things to appreciate and be grateful for (and there are plenty in any situation!) and the more you love God and the Universe, the more it loves you back and shows you miracles all around you, that you didn’t see before! 🙂

Have a fantastic awesome super happy day! I know I’m having one!

Love and light,

Natella

One of "Flame Towers"
One of “Flame Towers”

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Я ощущаю свою жизненную силу

Я ощущаю свою жизненную силу. Я чувствую, как она странствует через Вселенную, и понимаю, что она не зависит от физической оболочки. На самом деле материальный мир образует моя энергия, которую я проецирую вовне. Таким образом, чтобы изменить свой мир, я должна изменить себя. Я должна изменить то, что проецирую.

На основе “Материалов Сета” Джейн Роберте

Yesterday I stumbled upon the Serenity Prayer in the book I was reading. I heard it before, but seeing it again was like a bliss because these words reflect exactly feelings in my heart and thoughts deep inside my sub-consciousness.

I wanted to try calligraphy some time ago and this was like a sign to finally try something new and different. When I was a child I loved creating my own fonts and writing differently and beautifully.

Serenity Prayer - One Happy Blog

I also want to turn this writing into a poster, frame it and hang it above my desk. Do you guys like this and would you buy this as a poster?

I planned opening One Happy Store for some time and this seems like a great opportunity to finally do this and add this poster as a first item 🙂

Have a beautiful and blessed day and Happy Novruz!

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Видео дня: Жизнь. Инструкция по применению

“Жизнь. Инструкция по применению” – это очень интересный фильм, созданный Владимиром Герасичевым, лайф и бизнес тренером. Приятно видеть, что интерес к такого рода информации  начинает проявляться и на пространстве СНГ.

Мне очень понравился формат, в котором снят этот фильм и короткие интервью с такими персонами, как Аркадий Новиков (владелец более 50 крупных ресторанов в Москве), Наталья Синдеева (генеральный директор телеканала “Дождь”), Ник Вуйчич (основатель и президент фонда Life without limbs), Евгений Плющенко, Слава Полунин и др.

А вот краткое резюме основных тем фильма:

  • Не только мечтай, ставь конретные цели.
  • Всегда есть повод отступить, но нужно продолжать делать.
  • Результат – вот то, что важно.
  • Целеустремлённость.
  • Уметь принять ситуацию такой, какая она есть.
  • Противодействие возникает тогда, когда получаемое не совпадает с ожиданиями.
  • Уметь воспринимать ситуацию без раздражения, позволить быть тому, что есть.
  • Когда мы научимся это делать, энергия, которая тратилась на сопротивление, высвободится для новых ощущений и поступков и негативные эмоции исчезнут.
  • Не переставайте жить, насладитесь возможностью узнать что-то новое и сделать свою жизнь богаче и приятнее.
  • Пробуй новое, делай пока что-то не подскажет тебе, что это “твоё”.
  • Не останавливайся, просто продолжай, действуй!
  • Неудача – это знание.
  • Дай обещание кому-то (с собой легче договориться) и сдержи своё слово, например не курить неделю, заняться спортом.
  • Счастье – это состояние души.
  • Мы ничего никому не должны.
  • Важно только то, что мы делаем.
  • Если у тебя есть цель, сделай всё чтобы она стала реальностью.
  • Неудача – это не факт, а лишь твоё отношение к происходящему.
  • Нет необходимости быть совершенным.
  • Смелость – это не отстутствие страха. Это когда ты действуешь, принимая страх.
  • Важно верить в себя, доверять себе, своим способностям.
  • Сколько любви ты отдашь – столько и получишь.
  • Любой может быть счастливым.
  • Не сопротивляйся тому, что не совпадает с твоими ожиданиями. Прими это, позволь этому быть.
  • Желание -> действие
  • Нарисуй свою шкалу приоритетов и сформулируй свою цель.
  • Начни сейчас, не откладывай!
  • Все твои мечты могут стать реальностью.
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A Restful Sleep through a Meditation Exercise

A Restful Sleep through a Meditation Exercise.

If you never tried meditating before, post above contains 5 simple steps to help you relax your body and mind and prepare you for a restful sleep and I’m sure you will be happy with the results next morning!

Five Meditation Steps to Have the Most Restful Sleep

1. Find a place not to be disturbed. Easiest is to meditate even in the bedroom. The best time for meditation is just before you prepare for sleep. Before starting meditation close any source that might distract you: television, telephone, and draw the curtains.

2. Lie in bed and relax. Wear a pajamas that you feel more comfortable. Close your eyes and allow thoughts of the day to come and go. Do not stress yourself thinking that you are not sleeping just leave you in the flow of thoughts for a few minutes. It is also important that your bedroom to be neither too hot nor too cold, because an extreme temperature can cause you discomfort.

3. Start to focus on your breathing. As in other types of meditation, breathing is a crucial point that will help you get disconnected from external reality. So, try to become aware of air that enters through your nostrils until the lungs. Feel how your abdomen rises and withdraws. Let your arms and legs become heavy and release the muscle tension.

4Use your visualization. Further, use your visualization that is a very important technique in this type of meditation to calm your mind. Imagine one of the following scenes: strolling clouds in the sky, the sea, a plain full of flowers, an isolated mountaintop, all can be an image that can help you to relax.

5. Count to ten or twenty. While your mind visualize a beautiful picture, start slowly count to ten or up to 20. Count to two on each inhale / exhale. To be easier you can imagine slowly coming down some stairs. Count their steps. With each breath, your body should relax more and stress starts to disappear completely. At some point, you will lose count and you’ll be able to go into sleep. If you fail the first night, do not lose hope! Be patient, exercise consistently and you will succeed.

You can also try to use music to go faster in a state of relaxation.

Read more: http://dietandi.com/a-meditation-exercise-for-a-restful-sleep/#ixzz2rFctKCSP

Benefits of Meditation

Just found an interesting article with the results of different studies on meditation. I’m still mastering the art of meditation, yet I already had magical experiences.

Meditation helps in finding peace, balance and harmony and sometimes even heal the body, as they’re all one.

Individuals regularly practicing meditation emit gamma waves, which are the highest frequency and most important brain waves.

Buddhist monks can emit heat in a state of deep meditation while in a room with 4 degrees Celsius (40 degrees Fahrenheit) and draped in sheets that were soaked in cold water.

Buddhists feel the reality we live in is not the ultimate one. There’s another reality we can tap into that’s unaffected by our emotions, by our everyday world. Buddhists believe this state of mind can be achieved by doing good for others and by meditation.

For more interesting information on meditation -> Superhuman Energy Cultivated by Meditators: It’s Science » The Epoch Times.

Message From The Universe For You : Nurture Your Positive Thought and Enlighten Your Powerful Intuition.

Great post on the intuition! Let your soul be your guide in everything you do! 🙂

Video of the day: What a wonderful world

What a nice reminder of how precious our time on Earth is! Love the images in the video and charming voice of Louis Armstrong in an all time classic masterpiece ‘What a wonderful world”.

One Happy List

A lot of times when you find yourself being sad, filled with anger or other negative emotions, you want to escape and return to the positive state of mind, but don’t know how. Everything around seems to bother and annoy you even more. In times like this, I find it useful to turn to my Happy List for the things and activities that prove themselves to work. Everyone’s list is different, but you may find my Happy List useful to build your own. So, here we go:
1. Breathing – Sometimes going outside for a couple of minutes or just inhaling and exhaling deeply and slowly  help to relax and take a different perspective at the situation.
2. Taking a shower – I’m a water sign, so everything that has to do with water, whether drinking it, swimming in it, or just taking a bath or shower helps me to get my balance and harmony back. I also have this little tradition of visualizing all my problems and worries dissolve in the drain and new fresh and clean magic energy pouring over me.
3. Dancing – Now, put on some nice music and twerk 😀 (I thought I’d never use that word, but it seems proper for the context) My current list of cheerful songs:
Number 1 – Pharell – Happy
Number 2 – Pitbull feat. Ke$ha – Timber
Number 3 – Robin Thicke feat. Pharell and T.I. – Blurred lines

4. Looking at beautiful inspiring pictures – Whether it is a folder on your computer, favorite Instagram accounts or pins on Pinterest take some time to look, dream and enjoy. I like to look at the pet pictures (they’re guaranteed to make you smile) or beautiful locations and dream about travels and adventures.

Please tell me what is on your Happy List, I’d love to know.