Vince Laws writes: Work-in-progress photos for Making Van Gogh Smile. I had previously painted Selfie with Van Gogh when I started reading Van Gogh’s letters. I got to a point where I wanted to give him a hug, and painted Hugging Van Gogh.
After reading that Van Gogh had lost most of his teeth and tried not to smile, I wanted to paint him with a smile on his face. I started with a simple sketch to place his head and mine, and offered him some sunflowers.
Next I blocked in the background, played with radiating patterns using a palette knife, changed to me holding a palette, and a paint brush, and literally painting Van Gogh’s smile. There are no photos of him smiling, so I gave him my teeth.
There’s a competition in Japan for a painting on the theme of Smile. I’ve had this in the back of my mind. I got out my book about Japanese Colour Prints. Van Gogh really like Japanese prints, so I put in Mount Fuji, looking a bit like a fruit lolly. I found a waterfall and added that as Van Gogh’s shirt front.
… until everything fell into place, Van Gogh’s painting smock transformed into a Las Vegas catsuit, with a waterfall and unicorn decoration, based on Katsushika Hokusai’s The Waterfall of Yoshino, 1830. I transformed myself into The Courtesan Oh No Cocoa with fresh magnolia blossom clenched between my teeth, a symbol of hope.
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