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My Inspirations #1 - Vincent Van Gogh

As a general rule I don’t like navy or dark blue, having lived in that colour throughout secondary school and vowed I would never wear it again, although now, ironically, I wear navy in my part time supermarket job!

Yet my favourite painting is Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night. Why? It’s full of dark blues and navy!

I think it’s that swirly bit in the middle. It’s almost hypnotic, the way it sweeps in from the left then curls in on itself in a vortex.

When I saw “Wheatfields with Cypresses” in the National Gallery, as I walked slowly past it I could have sworn down that the wheat was moving. It’s the same with the swirly galaxy.

If I ever get a decent photograph of the Milky Way I’m going to try to emulate the movement within the painting somehow. I’m going to Kenya on safari in March so I’m hoping for some clear skies at night to give it a go!

In 2012 I had the privilege to see the real painting in the MoMA in New York City. I ended up seeing it twice in one weekend. Mam and I arrived on the Friday with pre-booked tickets, slightly cranky at each other after a long flight and indecision over what to do with our first evening there, only to be told at the door that it was free entry on Fridays. 

That perked our moods up so we saved our booked tickets for the day before we left. On the second trip that weekend I bought a large poster print of the painting. It was the same weekend we missed our flight home (with no money left to afford to change our flights) to see Andy Murray win the US Open. The print is now proudly framed (thanks to The Picture Framer) in a lovely simple, elegant silver frame. Every time I look at it I think of our crazy adventure to see a piece of sporting history.

I have just finished reading the published book of Van Gogh’s letters to his brother, always with a pen in hand to highlight and star any particularly inspiring or creativity-boosting passages. Some of them, it has to be said, bring tears to my eyes; either because of knowing what becomes of him and how popular his work is now, or because I am feeling the same way about my own creative flow.

What is evident from these letters at the halfway point is just how hard he had to work on his craft, how hard it was to find willing subjects to pose and how much he had to ask Theo for new canvases and paints every so often. However there are also many inspirational, creative quotes, my favourite being: “I have walked this earth for 30 years, and out of gratitude would like to leave some memento in the form of drawings and paintings - not made to please this school or that, but to express a genuine human feeling”. 

After my safari, my next travel ambition this year is to visit the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. There are regular offers for ferry crossings from Newcastle so I am keeping my eyes peeled!

And yes, I laughed and cried in equal measure at the Doctor Who episode “Vincent and the Doctor”! It’s in my top two episodes!