Learning from Vincent Van Gogh
I was intimidated by the challenge. The on-line group I belong to encouraged us to paint pictures following the masters. I’ve always had difficulty calling myself an artist, I’d rather say I love to be creative, and drawing and increasingly painting has been balm for my soul. The masters seemed a little out of my league.
As I studied Van Gogh’s works, I also found myself learning about this unusual man. That he first was a minister, and had a heart for the poor. He was only 37 when he died tragically, sadly, after taking his own life. He created over 2000 works, many in the last years of his life.
He never knew how his art would speak to people, and his messages would live on, timeless and thought provoking.
I recently read a book by Susan Garlough Brown, called Shades of Light. I had been blessed by her series Sensible Shoes, which I borrowed from the library. Reading these books was like taking a mini course in spiritual formation. I would highly recommend them.
But this lovely novel took a new twist, following a young woman crippled with depression and anxiety. Vincent Van Gogh is her mentor and guide, and the novel explores how his story, writings and paintings affected her life. I found it fascinating, and learned a lot. About mental illness, and about Van Gogh.
In these days of ongoing pandemic there is such a surge of mental health problems and illness. It is a pandemic in itself. I have found it helpful to learn as much as I can, through reading, and learning from others.
And as I attempted to create my own pictures, with a deeper understanding of this famous painter, it was therapy for my own mental health.
I find it sad that Van Gogh died, not knowing how precious he was, how his gifts would impact others, discouraged and lonely. I am again convicted to care for those who are marginalized, who need an encouraging word, who need to know they are loved.