this impression is dedicated to the memory of vincent van gogh, who is the single greatest artist with the largest influence on me and my artistic expressions...and this impression of mine is created in a way that reflects those huge influences from him that can be found and seen with in my photography...
and, what you see here is another one of my dreams, inspired by the idea of what i think maybe vincent van gogh dreamed about at night, the stars and sunflowers. these were two of his deeply favorite subjects to paint, and he felt deep connections to both, although he never created a masterpiece of the two together as one, which i really wish he would have done...so this is my humble attempt to do just that, put the two of them together in a composition, a photographic impression that would be difficult at best, if not impossible, in real life to capture in one single frame photograph...
“i don't know anything with certainty, but seeing the stars makes me dream.” ― vincent van gogh
i wanted the sunflower in the foreground to be in clean focus as my subject, along with the stars and milky way as my background, yet i wanted to blur the middle ground of the image (lens blur using large aperture) to make the sunflower stand out, and sort of float like in a dream with the stars behind...
“at present i absolutely want to paint a starry sky. it often seems to me that night is still more richly coloured than the day; having hues of the most intense violets, blues and greens. if only you pay attention to it, you will see that certain stars are lemon-yellow, others pink or a green, blue and forget-me-not brilliance. and without my expatiating on this theme, it is obvious that putting little white dots on the blue-black is not enough to paint a starry sky.” ― vincent van gogh
sunflowers turn to face east at night, literally go to sleep from sundown to sun-up, just waiting until the sun rises the next day...and during the day as young growing flowers (full grown flowers do not turn anymore, just continually face east), they are heliotropes, meaning that the face of the flower tracks to face the sun throughout the day...
in literature, the sunflower has become a symbol of devotion and loyalty. in their various stages of decay, these flowers also remind us of the cycle of life and death...
they won’t be here for long
sunflowers still choose to live
their brightest lives” ― rupi kaur
“no more words. in the name of this place we soak in with our breathing, stay quiet like a sunflower. so the nightbirds will start singing.” ― jalaluddin rumi, the soul of rumi
“in the garden of our solar system
there are peonies on pluto,
orchids of earth,
roses on saturn;
meteor showers raining mirth.
did you see
the junipers on jupiter?
the marigolds on mars?
did you know
in the bellies of stars?” ―
“i don't think there's anything on this planet that more trumpets life that the sunflower. for me that's because of the reason behind its name. not because it looks like the sun, but because it follows the sun. during the course of the day, the head tracks the journey of the sun across the sky. a satellite dish for sunshine. wherever light is, no matter how weak, these flowers will find it. and that's such an admirable thing. and such a lesson in life.” ―
"come with me
into the field of sunflowers.
their faces are burnished disks, their dry spines
creak like ship masts,
their green leaves,
so heavy and many,
fill all day with the sticky
sugars of the sun.
come with me
to visit the sunflowers,
they are shy
but want to be friends;
they have wonderful stories
of when they were young--
the important weather,
the wandering crows.
don't be afraid
to ask them questions!
their bright faces,
which follows the sun,
will listen, and all
those rows of seeds--
each one a new life!--
hope for a deeper acquaintance;
each of them, though it stands
in a crowd of many,
like a separate universe,
is lonely, the long work
of turning their lives
into a celebration
is not easy. come
and let us talk with those modest faces,
the simple garments of leaves,
the coarse roots in the earth
so uprightly burning.” ― mary oliver, the sunflowers
“we've left the moment. it's gone. we're somewhere else now, and that's okay. we've still got that moment with us somewhere, deep in our memory, seeping into our dna. and when our cells get scattered , whenever that happens, this moment will still exist in them. those cells might be the building block of something new. a planet or star or a sunflower, a baby....whatever it is, it'll be a part of us, this thing right here and now, and we'll be a part of it.” ― libba bray, going bovine
“what is it with you and sunflowers he asks?
i point to the field of yellow outside...
sunflowers worship the sun, i tell him.
only when the sun arrives, do they rise...
when the sun leaves,
they bow their heads in mourning.
that is what the sun does to those flowers...
it's what you do to me” ― rupi kaur, the sun and her flowers
“i need you, my fairytale. because you are the only person i can talk with about the shade of a cloud, about the song of a thought...and about how, when today, i looked a tall sunflower in the face, it smiled at me with all of its seeds" ― vladimir nabokov, letters to vera
“sunflowers and seashells and logarithmic spirals, sweep of galaxies and the singing curve of the universe, the oscillating wave thrumming in the nothingness of every atom’s heart” ― keri hulme, the bone people
"sunflowers are heliotropic, which means they naturally turn towards the sun, and like the sunflower, i am heliotropic, because you are my sun" ― bodhinku, sunflower
so, like i said above, this impression of mine is totally inspired by vincent, not just his paintings of sunflowers and of stars, but also the artist behind the work as well, his story, so inspiring even though it is both joyful and sad at times, i can relate to his thoughts, writings, his expressions in his paintings, and how he felt and lived...i can relate to all of it and truly know how he felt, i can empathize as there are so many similarities to my life and his...i have always felt such a deep empathy for vincent...i am very much able to relate to everything i have come to understand about him, and his work will always be a huge influence on my photography...
“normality is a paved road: it’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow on it.” ― vincent van gogh
“when i have a terrible need of - shall i say the word - religion, then i go out and paint the stars.” ― vincent van gogh
vincent was often lost, lonely, and up and down with his emotions and moods. often questioning his art work, and his meaning in the art world, as well as in the world of life... but always had his love of nature around him and his painting of that beauty as he saw it. his passion for his artwork was there for him to turn to, to give him meaning, purpose, and raise his spirits.
"be clearly aware of the stars and infinity on high. then life seems almost enchanted after all.” ― vincent van gogh
he had no children (like me) and was seen as a loner (like me as well), often off the beaten path doing his own thing (very much like me as well), regardless of what anyone else said, but he did care about what others thought of him, even though he often wrote that he did not. he was a deeply sensitive being, and so often got his hopes up, only to have them dashed, and he then turned to drinking absinthe all too often in excess to help him cope with his doubts and worries. he seemed tormented all too often, but then extremely happy at other times...but even in his deepest melancholy states, he always held his hopes and dreams, and positivity (as we read in his letters to his brother).
"i am doing my very best to make every effort because i am longing so much to make beautiful things. but beautiful things mean painstaking work, disappointment, and perseverance.” ― vincent van gogh
the color of yellow to vincent was his true expression of this hope and often a reflection of his happiness. his famous yellow house in arles in the south of france and his series of sunflower paintings are evidence of this, and both are tied permanently together with the color of yellow along with their connection to yet another artist who has been a huge influence on my photography, paul gauguin...sunflowers form a unique connection between vincent and paul as friends and as artists.
it was one of van gogh’s dream to start an art colony in arles, based initially at his yellow house. he finally persuaded gauguin to join him in arles after theo van gogh agreed to pay for gauguin’s travel and expenses. part of van gogh’s impetus to paint the arlesian sunflowers came from his desire to decorate and prepare the studio in arles for gauguin’s arrival and stay there. he wrote to theo in 1888: “i am hard at it, painting with the enthusiasm of a marseillais eating bouillabaisse, which won’t surprise you when you know that what i’m at is the painting of some sunflowers. if i carry out this idea, there will be a dozen panels. so the whole thing will be a symphony in blue and yellow. i am working at it every morning from sunrise on, for the flowers fade so quickly.”
“do you know why we have the sunflowers? it’s not because vincent van gogh suffered. it’s because vincent van gogh had a brother who loved him. through all the pain, he had a tether, a connection to the world. and that is the focus of the story we need...connection.” ―
“you may know that the peony is jeannin's, the hollyhock belongs to quost, but the sunflower is mine in a way.” ― vincent van gogh
he continued in the letter, “in the hope of living in a studio of our own with gauguin, i’d like to do a decoration for the studio. nothing but large sunflowers.” and the sunflower image that he painted for gauguin turned out to be the single image that he was the most proud of creating. however, this happiness turned away as his expectations of the yellow house and his ideas of an art colony in arles never came to fruition with gauguin. although gauguin and van gogh did work together at the yellow house in arles, it was only briefly between october and december of 1888. van gogh and gauguin had a famously tempestuous friendship, which may explain gauguin’s reluctance to join van gogh in arles in the first place.
during his brief stay there, gauguin did manage to paint a now-famous portrait of vincent van gogh painting his sunflowers. shortly thereafter, gauguin fled arles to eventually make his home in tahiti after vincent’s deteriorating mental condition led him to slice off part of his own ear. however, while living in french polynesia, he was still inspired by van gogh's paintings, and gauguin went on to paint four more sunflower paintings of his own.
van gogh experimented with putting the sunflowers against a blue background but his later versions have yellow flowers in a yellow vase on a yellow table, against a yellow wall and yet the picture seems to radiate light. the color theories followed by the impressionists dictated that to intensify colours, one should place opposing colors next to each other – yellow next to purple for example. vincent took a huge risk and broke this cardinal rule of the impressionist painters by using complimentary colors, almost all shades of yellow plus an impressive range of techniques, from tiny pointillist dots to thick sculptural strokes
van gogh was not trying to make an exact copy of reality in his paintings. he did not use colour merely to imitate nature, but to express emotion.
d.h. lawrence began his essay "morality and the novel", by taking sunflowers as an example of everything a work of art should do, that is, reveal the relation between man and his circumambient universe, in the living moment. in his sunflower painting, lawrence argued, vincent had captured “the vivid relationship between himself as a man, and the sunflower as a sunflower, at that quick moment of time...”
the title of my image, "vincent dreams" reflects these sentiments
"i exaggerate, i sometimes make changes to the subject, but still i don’t invent the whole of the painting; on the contrary, i find it ready-made—but to be untangled— in the real world.” ― vincent van gogh
"contemplate without thinking. stop the world. slow down everything. shut off the noise. relax. seize this moment. reconnect. feel and sense what surrounds you. listen to all the colors of light that envelope you. see the melody and harmony that floats about unnoticed. taste the solitude of all this wonderment. smell the beautiful silence within your peaceful serenity. then, reach out and touch your faith. this is my world. awaken." ― bodhinku, my world
above all else as always, i hope this message and image find you well.