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.  

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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.

Postman

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.

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

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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.

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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:

MILTON GLASER DRAWS & LECTURES from SEECOY on Vimeo.

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:

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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!

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