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A slight look of Vincent Van Gogh's hardships and experience throughout his life and childhood.

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Vincent Van Gogh

Samantha Nichols

Art History Honors

18th or 19th Century Artist Booklet


     This booklet is specifically based on the life of Vincent Van Gogh. After reading this information you should have a better understanding of the hardships Van Gogh went through, and how the experiences even inspired his artwork. Throughout his masterpieces it may even be simple to understand the colors and techniques he used to paint showed his emotions during that time. Vincent Van Gogh went through a rough life with his family, relationships, and art work. However, in the end it seemed to all pay off because his personal life is what seemed to make his artwork so popular. Now as many people may recognize him as "the artist who cut his ear off," rather than "Vincent Van Gogh." 


    Vincent Van Gogh was born on March 30, 1853 in Groot-Zundert, Netherlands. His father was a stern country minister, while his mother was an emotional artist with a passion for nature, drawing, and watercolors. At 15 years old, Van Gogh's family had a large amount of financial problems. This was when he was required to drop out of school in order to invest in a job at his uncle's art dealership. Despite the fact that Vincent Van Gogh was poor and unknown throughout most of his life, in the end he had a very successful career-- believe it or not. Throughout his life, he remained extremely unstable from an emotional stand point, and moved from place to place countless times. Van Gogh had a problem of falling in love with women who were facing their own struggles, because he felt as if he could help them through it. However, he would only become depressed when his relationships would continuously fail. Van Gogh's only way of becoming emotionally balanced was through his artwork. This helped him to produce some the most famous pieces recognized today. 

Summary of Van Gogh's Life

Vincent Van Gogh's Style

of Artwork

     Vincent Van Gogh relied on his self-teachings when it came to his artwork. He began his career by copying prints and reading nineteenth-century drawing manuals and books. He worked to first master drawing before becoming a successful artist. Van Gogh felt as if it was a better idea to work on his perspective and essentials in black and white before using color. Drawing to him was meant to channel his inner emotions. What makes Van Gogh's artwork stand out from others is the fact that he does such a wonderful job depicting the figures, light, and landscape without the use of color. He used pencil, black chalk, red chalk, blue chalk, reed pen and charcoal within his works. Van Gogh was also very popular for his use of his watercolor paintings. Though these did not show his technique in brush strokes, the pieces became incredibly popular and liked by others. 

     Vincent Van Gogh's style exceptionally changed when he moved to Paris in 1886 after becoming inspired by Impressionists and Neo-Impressionists. He began using lighter mediums with a new broken brush technique. Van Gogh also darkened the outlines of the objects he painted, and filled them in thick with color. What he painted, and the colors he used usually depended on his emotions. 

     Throughout Van Gogh's experience and advanced years he continued to work towards mastering his techniques. He began caring less about realism and more about painting to express moods, which is why it helped him so 

much to become emotionally stable. Van Gogh also began painting nature by using more light and vibrant colors. As you scan through his different pieces of artwork, you will notice how his techniques transformed for the better and how he eventually conquered the expectations of his art.


Created: June 1889

Current Location: Museum of Modern Art, New York City

Medium: Oil on canvas

The Starry Night

 The Starry Night Analysis

     The Starry Night is most definitely one of Vincent Van Gogh’s most popular and recognized paintings today. I chose this painting because it is one of my most favorite pieces of art of all time, and I’ve even seen it in person at the Museum of Modern Art in New York about 5 years ago! The style of this painting with the swirling clouds, exaggerated features, and blazing stars keep most any viewer at ease with their eyes while scanning throughout the painting and it’s entirety. Van Gogh did an exceptional job at making the stars in the sky and the windows in the town below stand out by using cool dark colors to surround them. On the left side of the painting there is a huge dark colored structure which stands out and creates a sensation of depth. The viewer is allowed to interpret what this is with an open mind, which makes it even more unique. The small town below the moving sky allows the painting to go further into depth, reminding them of their childhood or maybe even the town where they live. The post-impressionism is obvious throughout this painting because it is concentrated on themes stronger than symbolism, beauty, and abstract. All in all, I believe that it can be agreed that this masterpiece is incredibly moving and allows the reader to truly dig deep when analyzing all of it’s meanings. 

Created: 1885

Current Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Medium: Oil on canvas

The Potato Eaters

Created: 1888

Current Location: Yale University Art Gallery

Medium: Oil on canvas

The Night Café

Created: 1889

Current Location: The Art Institute of Chicago

Medium: Oil on canvas

The Bedroom

Created: 1888

Current Location: Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Medium: Oil on canvas

The Yellow House

The Yellow House Analysis

      The Yellow House was so interesting to me because it is actually the place Vincent Van Gogh lived when he first arrived in Arles during February of 1888. The colors he used in this painting (yellow and blue) seem to express his deep feelings which he had for this small house. Van Gogh made the sky so dark and simple by using only one color, unlike his techniques in The Starry Night. I believe he did this in order to make the house stand out, along with its color and intensity. The people painted in the street seem to add more of a warm welcoming, adding the message that he enjoyed his company and small community during his time of living in this place. It is almost like the place where I live, small amounts of people and simple streets—which is why I enjoy this painting so much. Just like in other paintings by Vincent Van Gogh, this piece also gives a good example of post-impressionism because of the mood it sets with the colors used and the symbolism it gives through the house and people on the streets. 

  • Portrait of the Postman Joseph Roulin

Created: 1889

Current Location: The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Medium: Oil on canvas