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.

757px-Van_Gogh_-_Starry_Night_-_Google_Art_Project
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)
1280px-USA-Museum_of_Modern_Art-Vincent_van_Gogh0t

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

 

4655584147_b84d13d9a0_z

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:

Advertisements

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”

Thought of the day - Miracles are just around the corner - by One Happy Blog - 2Thought of the day - Miracles are just around the corner - by One Happy Blog - 3Thought of the day - Miracles are just around the corner - by One Happy Blog - 4Thought of the day - Miracles are just around the corner - by One Happy Blog - 5Thought of the day - Miracles are just around the corner - by One Happy Blog - 6Thought of the day - Miracles are just around the corner - by One Happy Blog - 7Thought of the day - Miracles are just around the corner - by One Happy Blog - 8Thought of the day - Miracles are just around the corner - by One Happy Blog - 17Thought of the day - Miracles are just around the corner - by One Happy Blog - 16Thought of the day - Miracles are just around the corner - by One Happy Blog - 18Thought of the day - Miracles are just around the corner - by One Happy Blog - 27Thought of the day - Miracles are just around the corner - by One Happy Blog - 20Thought of the day - Miracles are just around the corner - by One Happy Blog - 25Thought of the day - Miracles are just around the corner - by One Happy Blog - 28Thought of the day - Miracles are just around the corner - by One Happy Blog - 24 Thought of the day - Miracles are just around the corner - by One Happy Blog - 22 Thought of the day - Miracles are just around the corner - by One Happy Blog - 23

Thought of the day - Miracles are just around the corner - by One Happy Blog - 13Thought of the day - Miracles are just around the corner - by One Happy Blog - 29Thought of the day - Miracles are just around the corner - by One Happy Blog - 14Thought of the day - Miracles are just around the corner - by One Happy Blog - 30Thought of the day - Miracles are just around the corner - by One Happy Blog - 15Thought of the day - Miracles are just around the corner - by One Happy Blog - 9Thought of the day - Miracles are just around the corner - by One Happy Blog - 11Thought of the day - Miracles are just around the corner - by One Happy Blog - 10Thought of the day - Miracles are just around the corner - by One Happy Blog - 12

Enhanced by Zemanta

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.

The Secret Movie

I take a great pleasure in writing this post about the movie that transformed the lives of billions – The Secret. It is rather difficult to find a person who hasn’t seen or heard of this movie. But, if by chance you haven’t, I hope you can dedicate 1 hour and 30 minutes of your precious time to watch it.

I watched the movie about 4-5 years ago and it was a stepping stone to the amazing changes in myself, in my thinking and in my life as a result of those inner changes. Once I saw this movie, I remember I couldn’t stop talking about it to all my friends and relatives. And then I witnessed tremendous changes in the lives of those of them who were willing to change their thinking.

Today I found this video in my Recommended list on YouTube and decided to watch it again. And I noticed so many more insights from the first time and remembered again some of the concepts that I already forgot. So, even if you watched the movie before, may I suggest you to watch it again, especially if you’re having rough times. I’m sure the movie will raise your vibration and positivity level up again.

To sum up the movie in few words, The Secret = The Law of Attraction. You attract what you think about. If you focus on your problems, you draw to yourself more of that. If you have more positive thoughts, thoughts of happiness and joy, as a magnet you will attract joyous and happy experiences in your life. You are the creator of your life and the Universe responds to your every wish. It doesn’t differentiate the positive from negative. So, if you want to change something in your life, all you have to do is to shift your focus.

The creative process can be described in 3 simple steps:
1. Ask
2. Believe
3. Receive

Before this movie, I didn’t even realize how many negative thoughts I had. The process of transformation for me wasn’t very easy and didn’t happen over a day or a month. I’m still working on it every day. However, I put a lot of effort in it and now about 70% of my thoughts are focused on health, wealth, joy and abundance. And, as a result, day by day I attract amazing happy people, joyous experiences and a lot of times I receive such pleasant surprises from the Universe, I didn’t even know were possible.

After ‘The Secret’ movie, it’s amazing author, Rhonda Byrne, wrote “The Secret’ book, ‘The Power’ and the ‘The Magic’ books. Her new book, ‘The Hero’ hit the stores November, 19th and I can’t wait to get myself a copy.

If you liked the movie, you can also find a lot of useful information on ‘The Secret’ official website – http://www.thesecret.tv/. I enjoy reading the stories from different people all around the world on how ‘The Secret’ and the proper use of the Law of Attraction transformed their lives. You can find them in the http://thesecret.tv/stories/ section.

Wishing you health, wealth and abundance!

 

The Secret to Personal Change

Great advice from my favorite Deepak Chopra, which I found here: http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130928001037-75054000-the-secret-to-personal-change

Most people want to change something about themselves. In this country we have an optimistic tradition about “getting somewhere” and “reaching higher,” which includes getting somewhere with the self. Change and optimism go together. It seems, in the current economic downturn, that optimism is lagging, but there’s still a strong motivation to succeed, which means overcoming obstacles. Many, if not most of the obstacles that people face in their rise to success, are personal. Which is why almost everyone wants to change a habit, a personality trait, a chronic state of anxiety, and so on.

The problem with personal change is that if you attack your old habits directly, the task is quite difficult. The mind that desires change confronts the mind that is bound by old conditioning. The result is inner conflict, with one side pushing and the other side resisting. Countless people feel trapped inside this war, whether their goal is to stop overeating, manage their anger, become more assertive, or stop being fearful – the desire to change isn’t enough, and keeping up the motivation to change soon wears out.

The secret to personal change is to stop fighting against yourself. If the inner war was winnable, you’d have won it long ago. I’m not advising you to give up. Giving up takes you out of the war zone, but that’s not enough to create positive change. Your brain is still trained to follow the pathways set down by habit and conditioning. This is where the secret to personal change comes in. Change occurs by giving the brain new pathways. Without these new pathways, your default reactions will remain in place. Brain wiring isn’t the same as house wiring. Even if you are “wired” to overeat or to lose your temper quickly, these reactions can be over-ridden.

The process has a few steps that need to be repeated anytime you find yourself having a familiar, undesirable reaction.

1. Notice what you’re about to do.

2. Pause, close your eyes and wait until the surge of your reaction quiets down.

3. Ask yourself if you really need to react this way.

What you’re doing with these steps is bringing in the higher brain, which is the only part that can decide to change and then carry out the change. The part that keeps you from changing is emotional and impulsive – in other words the lower brain. The lower brain has quicker access than the higher brain, which is why you jump when you hear a car backfire and only seconds later make the decision that you are not in danger. Survival impulses like hunger, aggression, and fight-or-flight aren’t stronger than reason; they are just faster and thoughtless.

By pausing and waiting for the surge to pass, you give yourself time to do the things that the higher brain is expert at: considering, reflecting, weighing options, etc. But here comes the tricky part. If you have given in to impulse and habit many times, ignoring the choices available to your higher brain, grooves of habit become the path of least resistance. In a word, the more often the lower brain is favored, the weaker your decision-making becomes. That’s why overeaters feel helpless to change their eating habit. They aren’t hungrier than other people; they’ve weakened their other choices.

So your campaign, whatever kind of change you are aiming for, is to take back your power to choose. You must do this over and over. Only repetition can rebalance your brain, allowing stronger pathways to be built and older grooves to wear out. Besides the three steps given above, the following are also very useful.

– Write down how you feel.

– Make a note whenever you make a better choice.

– Appreciate your good choices and celebrate the fact that you made them.

These additional steps reinforce higher-brain awareness. They reconnect you to your emotional brain and teach it to see that it doesn’t feel good just to overeat, lose your temper, or act aggressive. It feels just as good to make a better choice. Celebration, which many people leave out, reinforces the positive emotional side of making better choices. When you put all these steps together, they make change possible, not by fighting against yourself, but by adding the fulfillment of knowing that you are the author of your own life story and can turn the plot in any direction you want.

The most beautiful years

“One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful.” ~ Sigmund Freud

notsalmon-f713445c-ff2b-4784-81d1-7db0e2ae7a8c-v2

How to achive the goals

I love Jon Assaraf. You might recognize him from “The Secret” movie. I have watched several of his videos and I love his down-to-Earth realistic approach to achieving the dreams and goals and the way he explains the connection between our thoughts and action with the process that go in our brains. Hope you also enjoy and find it useful.

Life on Target