copyright Katherine Tyrrell
Depicting the Harvest The vast landscape has been built up in horizontal planes; in the foreground lies the harvested wheat, while in the background the purple-blue mountains rise up into the turquoise air. (Van Gogh Museum)I was conscious of trying to use the complementary colours which Van Gogh seemed to favour - blue/greens and oranges and yellows and mauve/purples (see below for more about this). Overall, it has resulted in the drawing having much more saturated colour and being brighter than I might have done if I'd been following the rather more muted colours from the day of the original sketch - on which the Mistral blew making everything seem rather hazy.
Van Gogh's letters contain some 324 references to colours. The Van Gogh Musuem also has some interesting narrative about use of colour:
- the way in which Van Gogh changed his palette
Experiments in colour: Soon after arriving in Paris (in 1886), Van Gogh senses how outmoded his dark-hued palette has become. He paints studies of flowers, which Theo describes as "finger exercises"-practice pieces in which he tries to "render intense color and not a gray harmony." Van Gogh keeps balls of wool with threads in different hues-red and orange, blue and yellow, orange and gray-to sample and test the effect of different color combinations. His palette gradually lightens, and his sensitivity to color in the landscape intensifies. Van Gogh regularly paints outdoors in Asnières, a village near Paris where the Impressionists often set up their easels. Later, he writes to his sister Wil: "And when I painted the landscape in Asnières this summer, I saw more colors there than ever before."
- the brightness and colour contrasts associated with his work after Japanese prints "Van Gogh used different, brighter colors, or enhanced the color contrasts."
- his use of still life for experiments with colour
Still Lifes as Color Studies: During his Paris period, Van Gogh painted a number of still lifes. Based on scientific theories of color, they were designed to help him understand the effects of various color combinations. He experimented with contrasting pairs of colors, such as blue and orange, red and green, or yellow and purple. He first painted a series of flower still lifes in which the subdued tones are increasingly replaced by bright, unmixed colors. He then turned his attention to various other subjects – books, fruit, plants, shellfish, glass – all captured on canvas in brilliant color and with a loose brushstroke. (click the link to see examples of the still life color studies at the bottom of the web page)
- Finally, a A current exhibition at the Van Gogh Museum also focuses on "Hidden Colors" Red, yellow and blue in the early paintings of Vincent van Gogh. The exhibition closes on 7 October 2007.
- Making A Mark: After Van Gogh: Drawing the Languedoc Landcsape
- Van Gogh's letters: 324 references to colours
- Van Gogh Museum:
- links to comments on color (44 results)
- work after Japanese prints - and colour
- experiments with colour - balls of wool
- experiments with colour - still lifes as colour studies
- exhibition - "Hidden Colors"
- About: Painting - Palettes and Techniques of the Masters - Vincent Van Gogh