Monday, July 4, 2011


Van Gogh

supplied the illustration


A perfect human-being could not have painted this.
Good health and eyesight would have made things bland;
Only Van Gogh's imperfections caused this brilliant view,
The brain imparting colour to the hand.
He was affected doubly, by digitalis and lead;
It is thought that these two poisons made him see
A world of sunflower yellowness, of circles and of swirls,
Unlike our world of dull conformity.
Lead-based paints were culprits; they made the retina swell,
So that he saw distortions everywhere;
He took digitalis for epilepsy, from the foxglove plant;
This caused him to see yellow in the air.
We admire Van Gogh for perfection; his view of the world is revered.
So if modern medicine leads to health perfection,
Will 'perfect' works of art become the exception, not the rule?
Are we moving in a healthy, but dull, direction?



Flowers of all colours blend in a garden plot;
No-one ever bothers as to whether they 'go' or not.
Orange grows by purple, yellow teams with red
And no-one thinks to uproot them and move them apart instead.
It must be the same with shadows made by the passing sun.
The circular and the jagged seem to blend as one.
The baskets and the flower look great by the long straight line;
They're not fighting for position; together they look fine.
Sometimes we can be too careful, sometimes we're too precise.
This jumble of different shadows, in the end, looks very nice.


Reflections said...

Both of these are so explicit. Love the combination, perfection in nature is so much more than our own perceptions of perfection, aren't they?

Isabel Doyle said...

Very interesting perspective. Beautifully written.

If all artists are 'cured' we have no hope.

Jinksy said...

I think 'perfect' and 'art' are poles apart - I find the srtiest things are usually random and haphazard...though that might br me! lol

Jingle said...

apt take n imperfections.

Kathe W. said...

imagination is the creator of art.....too much realism really doesn't do it for me
and isn't orange the new neutral?
Happy 4th!

Maggie said...

That got me thinking of all the imperfect artists and writers. Good grief, we owe so much to them.

Loved your write about Van Gogh.

Helena said...

Oh my! I never thought of it like that.......!

Imperfections make you what you are, I suppose, but we also rely on perfection in some cases. I don't think I've considered any artist 'perfect'. This is a puzzler - where's that Absinth....

Unknown said...

Your treatise on perfection is spot on. The Good Husband and I were recently discussing the falseness of the notion of perfection. It simply isn't. And when we assume it's possibility and find disappointment in not achieving it, we lose so many opportunities to see the glory that IS there.

Martin said...

Nice one. Let's hope modern life doesn't remove the representation and interpretation from art.

jabblog said...

Excellent - knowledge lends perspective and deeper understanding.

Lyn said...

Thank God for the imperfect path of the artist. No cure for Van Gogh, for Mozart either...for art. You are very good, no cure necessary!

Sioux Roslawski said...

This was an interesting take. It reminds me of a great-aunt a long time ago. She (and she probably had Alzheimer's) was once talking about the "snowmen" she saw in the July. I thought then, "The world is more interesting from her perspective.

What WOULD our world have been like if Van Gogh was completely healthy--physically as well as mentally?

Tumblewords: said...

Each one well crafted - full of truth and energy.

R. Burnett Baker said...

Well written. Ya know, some of the most creative and passionate artists have been mentally ill, drug addicts, or drunks. Or all three!

Vincent was thought to have been quite fond of absinthe. That could explain so much about his art.


Anonymous said...

Wow I learned something I didn't know Van Gogh had Epilepsy I do as well, luckily not the same medicine lol Brilliant poems I loved them both

Jo Bryant said...

Imperfections are what make both the artist and art.

Tess Kincaid said...

Healthy, but dull, indeed. Very nice piece.

Kay L. Davies said...

Here's to imperfections, here's to jumbles — the story of my life, Brenda, (minus the poisons) but I couldn't have said it as well.
— K

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

Helen said...

Love your insightful view of this painting and the artist ...