CountryWomanStudio|Vincent van Gogh, Color and Pain
Painter on his Way to Work-Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh, Color and Pain

Feb, 01, 2019
It is better to be high-spirited even though one makes more mistakes, than to be narrow-minded and all too prudent.

Vincent van Gogh

View of Arles by Van Gogh
View of Arles

He painted over 700 paintings in his final 10 years of life.
His greatest work was done in the last 3 years of his life.

But life was always a struggle for Vincent van Gogh.

Vincent van Gogh's Bedroom in Arles.
Vincent van Gogh’s Bedroom in Arles. Always yellow everywhere!

Following his final stay at the “Asylum for the Insane”,
one of many in which he spent long, lonely months,
he was happily released into the care of his doctor for, what would become, the last few years of his life.

Often in the garden, Vincent painted the flowers we now see in his work.

van gogh -irises; painted a year before his death in 1890
Irises by Vincent van Gogh
van gogh sunflowers
Twelve Sunflowers by Vincent van Gogh

Only one of his paintings sold during his lifetime despite the desperate attempts of his brother Theo and Theo’s wife, two of a few who stayed loyal to him throughout his life.
They were both his dearest friends and the family to which he retreated.
They kept him safe when the terrors of his illness became unbearable.

Portrait of Theo van Gogh.
Portrait of Theo van Gogh by brother Vincent

Vincent, when feeling stable (and perhaps manic), was undeterred by lack of monetary gain or notoriety. He kept painting.

View of Arles with Irises in the Foreground
View of Arles with Irises in the Foreground

During this time he moved often but always returned to Arles, a lovely little town in southern France.
The light, the color, a world he wished to become a part of.
It was never to be.

One summer morning in July, 1890, amidst the wheat fields of southern France he so often painted, Vincent van Gogh ended his tumultuous life with a bullet to the heart.

He was 37 years old.

Oddly it was not the bullet that killed him.
It passed through, missing his heart and lodged against his spine.
Sadly infection followed; He died 29 hours later.

It is thought that it was soon after painting “Daubigny Garden”, seen below.
Experts believe this painting shows signs of not yet being finished…
We will never know.

To look at the gorgeous hues in his painting, the movement of the wind in trees, that gorgeous pink in the large building, and of course the lavenders in the foreground; one wonders the torments that lie beneath. What might have been had he continued to paint this painting…

Daubigny Gardens by van Gogh
Daubigny Gardens by Vincent van Gogh

I look at his work and see things that speak of a gentle wisdom far beyond those years, a perspective on humanity that can only come from deep human suffering.

Below in his painting,  “At Eternity’s Gate”, I imagine Vincent as the old man in the empty room and a small warming fire, holding his head, weeping, dejected, ill. Vincent was, in life, very human.
Perhaps a self portrait…
He painted many.

Vincent van Gogh-At eternity's gate;
At Eternity’s Gate by Vincent van Gogh

I am awed by van Gogh’s work, especially his bold use of color and line, his passionate vision, certainly his determined will to keep painting, how he almost never gave up.

I will always weep when pondering the tremendous mental and emotional anguish that brought about the end of his life despite his intense desire to live.
And paint.

I am convinced that still, there is a place somewhere in the vast unknown, he continues painting in peace.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec Portrait-vanGogh in pastels
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec Portrait-van Gogh in pastels

van Gogh-Starry Night over the Rhone River
Starry Night over the Rhone by Vincent van Gogh (my favorite)

He suffered from long periods of severe mental illness, of mania, depression and psychosis, that often resulted in long periods of hospitalizations. He lived during a time when there was little (or no) treatment available.

Perhaps with modern medicine, he would not have left this world so soon.
However even today many with mental illness cannot overcome the suffering, choosing suicide.

Wheat Fields with Crows van gogh
Wheat Fields with Crows by Vincent van Gogh

His last words as he lay dying were,

The sadness shall last forever…

That he might have found a gentler way to be the giant artist that he was.

Painter on his Way to Work-Vincent van Gogh
Painter on his Way to Work-Vincent van Gogh

If you hear a voice within you say

‘you cannot paint,’

then by all means paint,
and that voice will be silenced.

Vincent van Gogh

van gogh-Red_vineyards
Red Vineyards by Vincent van Gogh – The only painting that sold during Vincent’s lifetime.

Today it is van Gogh and Picasso that hold the record for the highest price paid for a work of art. Vincent van Gogh’s last painting sold in the 1990’s for nearly $100 million.

Van Gogh Painting Sunflowers

“Van Gogh Painting Sunflowers by Paul Gauguin”


  1. susan


    Whenever I look at his paintings I find myself wishing I could see as he saw.

    • L'Adelaide


      It is his amazing way with color that really moves me. I do love his way of making paintings but it’s that amazing color that really gets to me. So brave… xx {surgery is over and am doing ok–YAY}

  2. Mary


    A wonderful write up this extraordinary artist . he saw as few could, no matter the personal pain he was in.

    • L'Adelaide


      Hi Mary! Thanks for joining my club 😉

      I adore his work and often post about him. I’ve got many posts stuck away from the years of blogging. I’m glad you liked.

      • Mary


        Sorry I have been missing , a lot going on here with aging parents, but also dealing with pinched nerve in my neck and back that has referred pain in my painting arm. But all is getting better. Always happy to be in your club!

        • L'Adelaide


          I am so sorry to read of your pinched nerve referring pain into your painting arm. I know much about all that and it’s so frustrating! It seems you have lots on your plate.. but all is getting better, the sooner the better. 🙂 And I am always happy to have you in my club too. Thank you for subscribing and we shall talk soon. I’m finally feeling better in the pain dept from surgery and so soon, will be back in my studio again. My body feels much better getting rid of all that infection growing in these rickety bones!♥

  3. loujen haxm'Yor


    Was fortunate enough to catch an exhibit of his works years ago in Los Angeles. Was worth the 2 hour wait in line. Seeing his paintings in person outweighed however I saw them in book photos. Many thanx for sharing and giving me the flashback.

    • L'Adelaide


      I’m glad you were transported! His work is magic.. thanks for your comment!

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Cyan birds sing, hidden. Ruby-throated hummingbirds flash amongst lemon trees. Shy creatures peer from purple shadow. Nature is a glorious tapestry.

I paint from my heart. I lost my mind a long time ago…

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