I’ve been reading about Vincent van Gogh lately. The guy was kind of crazy, as you may have heard, and also pretty unbearable. He was always mooching off of his brother to support himself. He would have been almost impossible to put up with, I think.
I’ve also been surprised by how many of his paintings were kind of lousy. One of his famous early paintings was The Potato Eaters, which was not that well-received:
To be honest I kind of like that one, but it was not popular in its time, and I can see why. The ones I really cannot stand are his paintings of farmers at work in sunny fields and colorful little hamlets. They are painted in a cartoonish, weird style, and oftentimes the lighting is just too much for me. This one, The Olive Trees, gives you some idea:
I like his night paintings much better. This one, Starry Night Over the Rhone, I prefer even to his more famous Starry Night:
I wonder if painting, maybe more so than other artistic endeavors, just requires that you keep at it. I don’t mean just in terms of practicing to learn how to paint, but even once you are a technically skilled painter, you have to just keeping painting stuff until you happen to get something good. There are one-hit wonder novelists and musicians, but maybe painting is more of a “quantity leads to quality” kind of thing.