Paint Schoodic

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

It's apple blossom time

Orchard in Blossom, 1888, Vincent Van Gogh
This week, the fruit trees are starting to come into blossom. With my usual impeccable timing, I’m knee-deep in a project in my studio. Nevertheless, if Mother Nature cooperates, my class will be outdoors painting at G and S Orchards in Walworth this weekend.

Because I want my students to see how Vincent Van Gogh painted orchards in blossom, I went to Wikipaintings looking for examples. I do this all the time, but this morning the process stopped me cold.

I’d estimate Wikipaintings has about 1900 paintings and drawings attributed to Van Gogh. Between November of 1881 and July of 1890, Vincent van Gogh painted almost 900 paintings. Wikipaintings, therefore, must have his complete oeuvre in one place.

Orchard with Blossoming Apricot Trees, 1888, Vincent Van Gogh
We can’t understand a painting in depth from the internet. However, it’s quite possible to understand a painter in breadth using a resource like Wikipaintings. And, very simply, nothing like this existed any time in the past. When I was young, we looked at paintings on slides or in books. (In comparison, internet images are very clear.) The rare and pricey catalogue raisonnĂ©, compiled by researchers, was as close as we could get to a broad view of a painter’s work.

Orchard and House with Orange Roof,  1888, Vincent Van Gogh. Wanna paint as well as Van Gogh? Draw, draw, draw…
We are beginning to see the development of online catalogue raisonnĂ© (see here for an example) but they’re almost redundant in the face of this free, open resource, Wikipaintings.


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