Art Journal Every Day: A Page-in-Progress
Happy Little Moments

Portrait of Joseph Roulin

I love going to the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art).  It's about three blocks from my apartment and I try to get there every week.  


I don't go for a long time each time.  Usually just about an hour.  I poke around and look at the things that are grabbing my attention on that particular day.  I often only visit a single exhibit.  I just need one really exciting spark and I consider the visit an enormous success!  On this particular day I paid a visit to one of my favorite paintings.


Portrait of Joseph Roulin by Vincent VanGogh.  I've always called it "The Postman" -- as it is a painting of a friend of VanGogh's who was a Postman.  But its real title is "Portrait of Joseph Roulin."  It's a lovely painting and the background has always fascinated me.


In some ways I feel that VanGogh's background deeply influenced the background of this painting I did several months ago:


I know you're scratching your head because the two paintings seem to have nothing in common.  But my intention is for the background to tell a story.  I remember painting this and thinking about how I wanted the background to be something more than simply a piece of draped cloth or a stucco wall.  The pie graphs and the writing say to me that she's a thinker and a planner.  That as quietly patient as she seems sitting there, there is some tumultuous thinking going on inside.  

I tend to want to tell the viewer things as I paint.  So I write words on my art.  I'm trying to learn how to just let the painting speak for itself and I feel like the backgrounds are a key to this.  It's an idea that I want to explore more of as I continue to paint.

But let's get back to that gorgeous background.  This time at MoMA I found myself compelled to sketch it.


Sketching is not something I'm good at, but I'm practicing and getting better.  It is so important.  This week I watched this video from Milton Glaser:


He is the author of the book Drawing is Thinking.  And in the video he says that he doesn't think he's ever really seen anything that he hasn't drawn.  I think that is so true.  It is shockingly amazing to me how much more you see of an object or a person when you try to draw them.  That's why I drew the background.  It helped me to clarify what was going on.

And then on Sunday I painted this painting:




You can see in this instance that I lifted the background pretty directly from VanGogh.  

I'm not sure what the next step is for me and the painting of Mr. Roulin.  But I know that it continues to inspire me.

Tomorrow I'm going to share some photos of this painting in progress!

Thanks for stopping by!