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Potato Eaters
Minnie and Sunflower

Letters to Van Gogh

From My Corgi Art

Vincent Van Gogh taught me how to paint, but what I learned was who he is, then who I am, who didn't know that I love painting. I painted 11 of his works by simply following his passion for nature, life, and people.


When I came across the piece that I struggled to paint as he could, I asked, "Help me, Van Gogh, how to paint this piece" by imagining his feeling and thought while he was painting the same piece. Then, I felt like Van Gogh smiled or laughed at me and said:

You believe in yourself. Observe and feel the object and surroundings.

He loved writing letters, so now I write my struggles and happiness to him by expressing beauties embedded in the same objects that he visualized and valued but on my canvas.  


Please do not try this at home.

The paintings should not be stepped on or sat on, but put smiles on anybody's face, even on Minnie's face.

Image by cyril mazarin

Avenir Light is a clean and stylish font favored by designers. It's easy on the eyes and a great go to font including thunderclouds, even it covered the blue sky. titles, paragraphs & more.

My Later Coincidental Findings After Painting "Tribute to Van Gogh"

This painting, "Tribute to Van Gogh," is my first original painting using my imagination without actual objects. I don't usually plan the result when I paint except knowing a few items that I want to paint in the painting. When the painting had completed, I started researching objects in this painting. Then, some coincidental facts were discovered to speak the message itself.

"The circle of life and love for self and others"

1. My doubt to paint tulips for Van Gogh 

Tulips were chosen to express my tribute to his home country, Holland, but Van Gogh hardly painted them. Therefore, the decision to paint tulips remained doubtful even after "his first garden painting in oil paint on canvas mounted on wood" was actually "Bulb Fields."  


However, the key to explaining my doubt about painting tulips for Van Gogh was resolved, like solving a puzzle while writing Section 5 and 6. Finally, it gave me a sense of purpose for painting tulips as a tribute to Van Gogh.


Bulb Fields by Van Gogh

​2. Tilted window

It can be "funny" to see the tilted window on my painting. However, its "distorted" perspective was enjoyable to me. In fact, when the vase was observed from a slightly higher angle at the right side of the vase, the window looked tilted while the vase stood straight.


Van Gogh expressed the panoramic view of tulip fields in his "Bulb Fields" painting, and "the regular composition allows him explores his interest in perspective" (Wikipedia). This finding gave me comfort that the tilted window could be acceptable to him.

3. Six red tulips and my purple scarf

The plan was to paint six tulips in red. However, any yellow flowers (intentionally excluding tulips) could have been a better choice for Van Gogh since he loved yellow sunflowers and hardly painted tulips.


After going through some thoughts, a bunch of six red tulips was still chosen as a painting object because his favorite colors were red and green. 


When the painting of tulips and a scarf was completed, my doubtful feeling yet continued, so three words - Van Gogh Tulip - were typed in Google to help me discover some answers to this feeling.

It was surprising to find out that tulips, called Tulip Vincent van Gogh have existed.

"On the 21st of March 2011, museum director Axel Rüger named this unusual flower in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. It is a fragrant black to brown tulip with fringed petals!"


This "Tulip Vincent van Gogh" could have been painted on my canvas, but my scarf had already been painted in the same color as Tulip Vincent van Gogh. How odd.

Also, the vase seemed to fit only six tulips despite there were several attempts to paint more. Then, the number six reminded me to re-check one fact; six was right. Vincent was the eldest son of six brothers and sisters. How odd again.

Tulip Vincent van Gogh

My scarf in the painting

"His brother Theo was born on 1 May 1857. There was another brother, Cor, and three sisters: Elisabeth, Anna, and Willemina (known as "Wil")"

4. Mother and Van Gogh's portraits

Painting Van Gogh's works taught me his love for his mother. Hence, his mother's portrait was placed in front of the window. After her portrait was painted on my canvas, it was discovered that his mother loved flowers and taught him painting after searching for more information about his mother on Google. It was good to place his mother's portrait in front of tulips. 

Van Gogh loved to hang his self-portraits in his bedroom. After searching through all his self-portraits, the same self-portrait, seen in his "Bedroom in Arles (3rd)," was chosen for my painting because it was enjoyable to paint "My Corgi Naps in Gogh's Bedroom in Arles." After (the corner of) Van Gogh's self-portrait was painted, the unique observation - handsome and tidy Vincent - made me curious to research more about this portrait.


It was a privilege to place his and mother's portrait together on my canvas since this chosen self-portrait was his last portrait and was gifted for his mother's 70th birthday.

Mother and Vincent portraits by Van Gogh

Bedroom in Arles by My Corgi Art

Bedroom in Arles (3rd) by Van Gogh

5. The book beside the vase and the view from the window

The initially planned object beside the vase from "Still Life: Vase with Fourteen Sunflowers" on the wooden table was Van Gogh's watch, but it was not found from a collection of his still life paintings. While searching for his watch, the painting of two books stood out, especially the small yellow old and well-used book (not the bigger book). Neither the painting title nor any information about these books was investigated until blurry writing on the small book cover required me to research further to paint the cover correctly on my canvas.


This two-book painting was called "Still life with Bible" and had a remarkable story (Van Gogh Museum):

"This hefty Bible had belonged to Van Gogh's father, a Protestant minister. Van Gogh painted it just after his father's death. He placed his own copy of Émile Zola's La joie de vivre next to it. That book was a kind of 'bible' for modern life. The books symbolize the different worldviews of Van Gogh and his father."


This story filled me with an overwhelming joy that my "Tribute to Van Gogh" painting has the piece of Van Gogh's tribute for his father. Besides this, the small book title, "La joie de vivre (The Joy of Living in English)," was a great surprise.

Van Gogh highlighted his living - joy - in contrast with the way his pastor father lived - the bible - in his "Still life with Bible" painting. Nonetheless, the intention of the "Tribute to Van Gogh" painting was to highlight his joy of life by shining soft light from the warm brown colored wooden window, accompanied by his mother's portrait in front of flowers.

In contrast with his joy, the window displayed the view of "Wheatfield under Thunderclouds"; the view in the weeks before his death, demonstrating confusion, sadness, and sorrow, described by thunderclouds regardless of how joyful and beautiful the wheat field was and looked.

Still Life: Vase with Fourteen Sunflowers by Van Gogh

Still life with Bible by Van Gogh

The book in Tribute to Van Gogh

Wheatfield under Thunderclouds by Van Gogh

6. Color choices

The further information on "Still life with Bible" became more interesting to me:

​"Vincent described* this work to Theo as 'a still life of an open, hence an off-white Bible, bound in leather, against a black background with a yellow-brown foreground, with an additional note of lemon yellow.' He wanted to show that the colour black could be effective. The brothers had previously discussed this question at length.

Theo thought Vincent's canvases were too dark and gloomy. He encouraged his brother to use lighter, brighter tones, as the Impressionists did."


Van Gogh's opinion was encouraging because my first exercise painting was "Daisy in the Crystal Glass," a yellow lemon flower against a black background with a brown table in the foreground.

The idea of the "Tribute to Van Gogh" painting was initially consisted of painting the crystal vase with a black background but changed to paint in "lighter, brighter tones" by considering what was preferred by others as well as expressing joy for Van Gogh instead of keeping my color preference or theory (i.e., enjoy highlighting blight objects by a darker background).

From the long explanation of Van Gogh’s color theory (in his above letter), he mentioned "COLOUR EXPRESSES SOMETHING IN ITSELF" and added. 

"... because these days it really comes quite readily to me to paint a given object, whatever the shape or color may be, without hesitation.

Lately I made several studies outdoors, of the autumn landscape. I’ll send you the still life and one of these autumn studies soon [18] ..."


One of these referred autumn paintings happened to be one of eleven chosen Van Gogh paintings by chance, which is "Avenue of Poplars with My Corgi" that is his "Avenue of Poplars in Autumn." This beautiful painting was chosen out of 868 Van Gogh oil paintings because it was unusually red and orange for Van Gogh but beautiful and peaceful.


Daisy in the Crystal Vase

Avenue of Poplars with My Corgi

Avenue of Poplars by Van Gogh

7. Discovering a purpose of painting tulips​ for Van Gogh

*The tulip mania was often mentioned in Vincent's letters. For example, the following quote was taken from the above letter to Theo (in Section 6).

"... You must just let me maintain my pessimism about today’s trade, because it definitely does not imply despondency. This is how I reason to myself. Suppose that I’m right when I increasingly see something like tulip mania in the curious haggling about the price of paintings [4]. Suppose, I say, that like tulip mania at the end of the previous century [5], the art trade, with other branches of speculation, were to disappear at the end of this as it came, that’s to say relatively quickly.

Tulip mania may have perished, BULB-GROWING REMAINS. And for my part I’m content, for better or worse, to be a little gardener who loves his nursery..."

This letter from Vincent to Theo guided me to find a letter from Vincent to his mother. Vincent wrote about his last portrait (Section 4) and the tulip mania as follows.

"... And those high prices one hears about, paid for work of painters who are dead and who were never paid so much while they were alive, it is a kind of tulip trade, under which the living painters suffer rather than gain any benefit. And it will also disappear like the tulip trade.

But one may reason that, though the tulip trade has long been gone and is forgotten, the flower growers have remained and will remain. And thus I consider painting too, thinking that what abides is like a kind of flower growing. And as far as it concerns me, I reckon myself happy to be in it. But for the rest!..."


It is needless to say that Van Gogh felt the painting trade was becoming like the tulip mania and the Van Gogh Museum Instagram mentioned that "he developed a dislike of the flower due to its association with ... tulip mania."


This information made me regret painting tulips for Van Gogh, although Van Gogh stated that the tulip trade has long been gone and is forgotten" and "BULB-GROWING REMAINS."


I agree to say, "And for my part I’m content, for better or worse, to be a little gardener who loves her nursery" and "I reckon myself happy to be in it, but for the rest!"

The purpose of painting tulips is to remind how Van Gogh felt and painters in 2021 probably still feel the same way he felt. 

8. The wall color

After eliminating an option to paint the black background, only one color that I thought of painting was the sky blue with a mixture of ocean green as seen in the background of "Vase with twelve sunflowers and My Corgi" despite this color differing from Van Gogh's "Twelve Sunflowers (my dream)." While writing this article, this color turned out to be the same as "Three sunflowers,"; it is his first sunflower painting.


It was a pleasant surprise to paint the starting point of his sunflower painting journey and his first oil painting object, tulips, together on one canvas as a tribute to Van Gogh.   

All I do is stroke brushes with paints by listening to what Van Gogh speaks, what objects talk, and what our nature tells me.

 "The Joy of Living" is always placed in his heart despite the view that thunderclouds could shadow beautiful nature. 

​Tulips remind us how Van Gogh lived and felt like a great humble painter in us.


By odd chance, my "Tribute to Van Gogh" painting taught me one story of Vincent van Gogh's life by naturally guiding me to objects. It showed me that the beginning and end of life existed together like a circle with "joys and love" and "confusion and sadness."


Learning from how Vincent felt about his Van Gogh Family, I would like to give my sincere tribute to my parents, partner, and family, and all people, especially my lovely neighbor like my family, whom I love and who support my passion for painting because they help me keep growing bulbs and I am happy to be in it.

From My Corgi Art

Vase with twelve sunflowers and My Corgi

Vase with twelve sunflowers by Van Gogh

Three sunflowers (first version) by Van Gogh

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