Friday, July 31, 2015

Part 3 In Vincent's Footsteps

'In Vincent's Footsteps'              9x12            pastel                ©Karen Margulis
purchase painting $150
It was a stop I will always remember. I knew it would be an interesting stop but I wasn't prepared for the emotions I experienced. We were up early to load up the vans for our departure from Paris. Instead of heading straight for Normandy and our home base, Stan had planned for a special detour for us.

The anticipation built as we made our way through the Paris traffic into the French countryside. The sight of the famous wheat fields made me smile. I wanted to stop and walk in those fields. I would have my chance later in the week. Today our detour was to the village of Auvers-sur-Oise.

close up detail with a hidden surprise

Auvers-sur-Oise (say ovayers sur waaze) is the village outside of Paris where Vincent Van Gogh spent the last 70 days of his life. In the wheat fields of this village Vincent shot himself, succumbing to his wounds two days later in his room in the Auberge Ravoux.

We came to Auvers to pay our respects.

It was very quiet here. Only a few people walked the streets.  It was peaceful compared to the bustle of Paris. There were flowers everywhere. Hollyhocks and climbing roses graced the buildings. There were paintings to be made everywhere. Van Gogh painted 70 paintings in the short time he lived here. I can see why.

We walked in the footsteps of Van Gogh. We saw the subjects of some of his most famous works. We walked down the path that he must have walked every day to and from his room and out to the fields carrying his easel, paints and canvases.  The village appeared as though it could have looked the same as when Vincent lived there. 

We took the short tour of the Auberge Ravoux. Vincent stayed in room number 5 at the top of a narrow creaky staircase. It was small. And spare. You could feel the loneliness.  Next we were ushered into another small dark room. We were shown a film about Vincent's days and last days in Auvers. And then it hit me. How very sad it was to be so misunderstood yet to be able to create so much beauty. It was incredibly moving.

After the tour we made our way down the main street to pass the church and head up into the wheat fields and the cemetery to pay our respects. It was my first close up view of the wheat fields. They were in various stages of growth from new to downtrodden. I was inspired to paint them all. I could see why they excited Van Gogh.

I would have my chance later in the week. For now our visit was over. The mood was quiet as we loaded into the vans for the remainder of the drive to Meuvaines.  It is a detour that will stay with me and inspire me.

Click here for an interesting page on Auvers-sur-Oise.
For Part 1 of my trip report click here. In June I spent 10 days with Stan Sperlak and his Painter's Passport group on a workshop expedition in France.

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