Friday, April 9, 2010

I Saw Van Gogh in My Bathroom Shower. Really.

Nope, I'm not a raving wackadoodle. At least I don't think so. But I really did see him!
Before you call the crazy bus to my house, allow me to explain.

For several years now I've been trying to bring more peace into my life, to take time to breathe and pay attention to my surroundings, to see, to sense, to listen. Usually I'm a complete failure at this and race around like everyone else. But every now and then I get little reminders of the value of inner peace. Like the gold nugget Karen Jackson shared a few weeks ago at the women's conference I attended: the Chinese pictograph for busy is made up of two characters, the one for killing and the one for spirit. Hear that, America? (Hear that, Becky Ramsey?) Our culture may equate busyness with importance, but I know that running all day long sure doesn't feel good to me. So I say all this to give you background, in hopes that you won't think I'm too much of a looneybird.

There is one time of day that I can say I do a pretty good job at paying attention: my morning shower. So it only lasts about five minutes, but hey, it's a very peaceful five minutes. And sometimes it inspires me to continue paying attention even after I've toweled off!
And sometimes it inspires me to see impressionist painters in flower petals stuck to my shower door and to write blogs about them and their inspiring, creative lives!

No? Look harder. That white blotch is a petal from our pear tree that somehow ended up stuck on my shower door. You still don't see van Gogh's face? Come on. I took the trouble to get back in the shower with my camera just to show it to you. It's his silhouette.
Maybe this will help.

Ta da!
Okay, so it could be any bearded man, but to me it's Vincent van Gogh. (It's also an example of pareidolia . Remember that?)
Before our French life, all I knew about van Gogh was that he was the crazy painter who chopped off his ear in a fight with Gaughin.

Plus, he painted the picture that hung in the kitchen of my childhood home.

I'm pretty sure that my mom picked that one because it was cheery and went with our orange and yellow plaid wallpaper, not because I would grow up and one day have a spiritual transformation in France in which van Gogh played an active part, but I'm grateful just the same. It makes me feel like the artist has been following me around all my life, whispering in my ear.

Do you know much about van Gogh?
I'm so glad I got to know him a bit. His life proves what I keep discovering: people are so much more than their darkest moments, more than their weaknesses and disabilities, even more than their mental illnesses.

I'll share just a couple things about him that were new to me.
Van Gogh started out as an evangelist, a preacher like his dad and uncles. But when he gave away all his things to the poor, in order to more closely identify with them, it started to freak out his family. They made warned the bishop about him and made him quit. He had been painting during that time, painting his parishioners and scenes of their daily life in Holland.

He went back to painting, but he didn't stop working for God. He even wrote a letter to his brother Theo, in which he described Christ as "the supreme artist, more of an artist than all others, disdaining marble and clay and color, working in the living flesh."

His art was dark and grim until he moved to France and discovered his own brand of impressionism. Don't you love the passion in his work? I think it vibrates, like his light.

Here's another of my favorites. The almond tree, in blossom.

Look! We're back to flower petals again.
I just love it when that happens.
Have a great weekend, y'all!
Love, Becky
PS. Enjoy this amazing series of self portraits of van Gogh. And if you want a great movie to see this weekend, I recommend Lust for Life, the 1950's film about van Gogh's life starring Kirk Douglass. It's a favorite of mine.


lotusgirl said...

Whoa. That's cool. I love Van Gogh. I read Lust for Life years ago, and it made me love him even more. I think his paintings shout out how passionate he was. They seethe with emotions.

R and L said...

You're no looney bird - you just like to say things like that (or does Todd?), that's for sure -- you are MUCH more visually perceptive than the average person. I've never seen that painting of the Almond tree in bloom, that's a pretty one, but it's not the typical Van Gogh with the motion lights. I love his paintings but his self portraits sometimes look a little creepy - good thing his personality wasn't that way - except well maybe a little eccentric!
Have a great weekend Becky!

CC said...

Well, I don't really see Van Gogh in that. But that's okay. I still like you. I'm very hot and cold with VG. I looooove some of his art and am really not thrilled at all with some of it.

adrienne said...

I love his paintings. Too bad he didn't find more inner peace...

I've never seen the almond blossoms - the light is beautiful in that one.

Fete et Fleur said...

Peace and rest are illusive things in our society. Have you ever seen the movie Star Trek Insurrection? They make contact with a society of people who are able to literally live in the moment. They have the learned to slow time and make each second a treasure. I love that!

I'm constantly looking for ways to slow down and live in the moment rather than in the whirlwind.


joyfulploys said...

Thanks for the Van Gogh post...I didn't realize that he painted so many self portraits. I don't recall ever seeing the almond tree painting before. As for the shower door...that's like cloud watching, you see what you see :)

ParisBreakfasts said...

What a Brill idea!
Has it been done?
Eeep it has...
I WANT ONE and you planted the idea in my head!

Natalie said...

I like you.
I like your blog.
I like Van Gogh... wherever he shows himself.


HI Becky (:) been while Love seeing your fun posts again..

Susan said...

Like it used to be said in my family, "know of him, but I don't know him". Several posts back I did a piece of jewelry based on the almond branches. Check out my March 25 post for my homage to VG. And by the way, I do see him in your flower petal art. Take care, Susan.

Ronnie said...

I LOVE these kinds of happenings! I love the mystery of these kinds of events.
I see it, Becky.
I also love Vincent Van Gogh. He was extraordinary. It's too bad they didn't have Prozac back then. He probably would have been able to manage a longer life and so many more paintings for us to enjoy.
I'm sure you've heard the song Vincent by Don McLean. Let's sing it together...
"Starry, starry night
Paint your palette blue and gray
Look out on a summer's day
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul...
Shadows on the hills
Sketch the trees and the daffodils
Catch the breeze and the winter chills
In colors on the snowy linen land."
Thanks for sharing. I see things too. I'd like to hear more about your spiritual awakening in France. Did I miss that post? Love, Ronnie

Rebecca Ramsey said...

I agree, Lois. I love the passion in his paintings. I've never read the book. It's now on my To Read list!

Hi Randy, yep, some of his works were a little creepy. I used to be turned off by them, but now that I know more about him and his mental illness, they interest me more.

CC, I know what you mean. I like the sunniest ones best. And the one of the crying man. It breaks my heart, but I love it.

Adrienne, YES. It really is so sad that he couldn't find peace.

Nancy, I have seen that movie. Thanks for reminding me of it! Sounds like we're on the same search. :)

Mary, it is interesting that he did so many self portraits. He painted constantly. From what I read, many many works ended up torn into pieces.

Carol, you're too funny! I love the shower curtain idea. If only my showers didn't come with doors. I'd snap one of those up in a minute!

Natalie, I like you too. :) Your blog always inspires me!

Hi Patty, I'm still craving hamburgers and hot dogs after your last post!

Susan, glad to hear I'm not the only one who sees him. I LOVE your van Gogh inspired work. It's gorgeous.

Ronnie, so true! I wonder though what medication would have done to his art and passion. So many artistic creative people struggle with some form of mental illness. I'm going to have to read up on the connection between the two. As far as the spiritual transformation, I've not really blogged about that. Cross your fingers, though. If it still interests you, maybe you'll be able to read about it some day. I'll tell you more when I can. :)

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I do love his work. One of the big thrills in my life was to see his paintings IN PERSON at a few museums.

Jenny said...

I love that almond tree painting. What a magnificent blue. THank you for the info on Van Gogh. And I think I will check out lust for life.