Van Gogh’s Café Terrace at Night [in Arles] is the first of his paintings that pops up in an image search. Does that mean it’s popular? I think so but other paintings of his are more well known. When you think of Van Gogh, you think of works like: Starry Night, Sunflowers, Almond Tree Branches, Black Crows in Wheatfield and many, many others. He was quite a prolific painter.
When my mother snapped these shots of a mural of Van Gogh’s Café Terrace at Night in New Orleans (NOLA), I was happy to see them because I hadn’t seen this mural before and this is one of my more connected memories to Van Gogh’s paintings. Art, I believe, has most meaning when there is connection.
I love Van Gogh’s work but certain pieces speak to you and this one did because even though I wasn’t in Arles, where he painted it, I was at that very scene in 2006, when I went on an “art trip” with my parents and my sister Lindsey in the Provence region of France. We were traveling with a well known pastel painter, Alan Flattmann. He taught us how to paint with pastels, which I was reluctant to do before because I don’t like the feel of pastel and/ or chalk. The difference is that pastel is pure pigment. Alan taught us through his creative process from finding the scene to paint, determining the composition and the type of paper to use, laying out the foundational drawing to the layers of additional pigment and showing us how the painting developed. He was a good teacher and is an exceptionally talented artist. I’ll have to reserve an entire future blog post dedicated to Alan and that trip, but for now, here’s just one picture of him in the process of painting the harbor in Coullioure, France.
In going back through this album, I just had to post this endearing photo of my dad, which I love, doing his best at drawing. The problem for a neurosurgeon is they get too stuck on the details. He did a good job but boy, did it take long — and he never lost focus. He was a practicing surgeon until 80 years old. Amazing!
Here’s my reproduction of Van Gogh’s Café Terrace at Night, that I painted when I returned home from this trip. It greets people when they enter my living room.