Vincent Van Gogh is a Dutch Post-Impressionist painter whose life was fraught with failure, mental illness, and poverty. The way his life unfolded, ending in suicide, is a tragedy when you consider he is now one of the most widely recognized and famous artists in all of Western art history. I’ve had the privilege to see several of his paintings in person, including The Starry Night—which is the most impressive painting I’ve ever seen. If you get the chance to see it in person, do. Its three-dimensionality will blow your mind!
ABOVE: Photos of Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, Bedroom in Arles, and Self Portrait taken by Meredith Steele at the Smithsonian and The Art Institute of Chicago.
I’m an art geek and love exploring art history. I’ve been enjoying learning what inspired artists’ work and tapping into their stories. I’ve selected my favorite notable artists, and in the month of their birth, I share their stories with you and draw correlations between them and beaded jewelry design.
If you’re into art history, too, be sure to check out my previous article about artist Paul Cézanne, or read the entire Beading with the Masters series to get all caught up with what I’ve shared so far!
Beading with Color
When Van Gogh put his first works on exhibition, his brother (and art dealer, benefactor, and best friend) Theo said that the colors were too dark and, therefore, not attractive to buyers. Over the years, Van Gogh developed a much more colorful palette full of bright yellows, greens, reds, and ultramarine blue. Bead artists take a cue from Van Gogh when it comes to selecting their bead color palette, as well.
Here are a few of my favorite beading patterns that feature similar colors:
- Evelina Palmontova’s Drops of Rain Earrings
- The Garden of Eden Bracelet by Agniezska Watts
- Silke Steuernagel’s Keystone Mandala Pendant
- The Netted Pearl Earrings by Jill MacKay
Beading Like Sunflowers
One of Van Gogh’s most notable works, Sunflowers, is actually two series of paintings of sunflowers that he would begin and finish in one day. They were intended to display how he worked and show off his technical skill to Paul Gaugin, a painter he looked up to and later shared a studio with. Here are some beading patterns that remind me of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers:
- Yasmin Sarfati’s Sunflower Bracelet is an obvious choice. I love the inclusion of a blue colorway as the Sunflowers series of paintings has lots of blues to balance the bright yellow of the flowers.
- Melanie Potter’s Swinging Starlets Necklace bursts with a profusion of colorful little flowers.
- Valerie Felcetto’s Breezy Blossoms Bracelet is a chain of sunflower-shaped components that sparkle and dance on your wrist.
- Penny Dixon’s Tilt-a-Whirl Bracelet reminds me of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers paintings with their chunky gold and blue colors and floral motif.
Beading Like The Starry Night
Van Gogh’s The Starry Night is one of the most famous paintings in Western art and culture. From umbrellas to bedspreads to handbags, you see the iconic crescent moon and swirls everywhere! It’s no surprise that lots of beaded jewelry is influenced directly or indirectly by The Starry Night, including these beading patterns:
- Jamie Hogsett’s Starry, Starry Night Necklace features swirling circular square-stitched components and a handmade glass pendant that was inspired by The Starry Night.
- Szidonia Petki’s Vintage Vignette Bracelet has colors and shapes that remind me of Van Gogh’s star-sprinkled night sky.
- Carole Ohl’s Papillion Bracelet has three colorways that all hearken back to the blues, whites, and golden tones of The Starry Night.
- Cindy Holsclaw’s Chrysanthemum Blossoms Necklace also presents the same color palette, with multiple points of light emanating from the Swarovski crystal rivolis.
I feel that we are lucky as a culture to have had Vincent Van Gogh in the first place, but I can’t help but wonder what other masterpieces he would have painted if he had lived past the age of 37. The majority of his work was completed in the last 2 years of his life. His story inspires me to keep practicing art, even if only for myself.
Technical Editor, Beadwork