Bells on a Starry Night

You may be saying yo yourself….”self when does the name of this blog mean?”

If you are familiar with Amsterdam you would know about Anne Frank and Vincent Van Gogh. Both are reflected in the name.

The “bells” are a reference to the Westerkerk (or west church) bells that Anne could here from the secret annex.

Starry night is a reference to Vincent Van Gogh and his paintings; especially the Starry Night series (yes he painted more than one)

Starry Night
Starry Night Over the Rhone

The Van Gogh art is from The Vincent Van Gogh Gallery

Note to self….stop calling yourself “self”

The Domtoren (Dom Tower)

The Dom Tower of Utrecht is the tallest church tower in the Netherlands, at 112 metres (368 feet) in height, and the hallmark of the city. The tower was part of Dom Church, the medieval cathedral of Utrecht, and was built between 1321 and 1382.

Some of the best views of Utrecht are from the top of the tower.

City View

the Dom Church (whats left of it)

My Workout
I walked ALL the way to the top! All 465 steps, every last one of them. They are doing some maintenance work on the tower, so it was easy to imagine what it might have been like in the 14th century Let’s lust say I really like my job

I also spent time walking around Utrecht, exploring the streets, getting lost, learning how to read a map….you really do need to know where you are to be able to figure out where you’re going.

Today was Frites day, I had my first Belgian fries with Mayo for lunch…well….I did walk up all those steps, didn’t I?
Dinner was much Better, health wise, fresh Herring with onions and sweet pickles and a bottle of water. DELICIOUS

A typical Dutch delicacy is raw herring (Hollandse Nieuwe). This is typically eaten with raw onions. Hollandse nieuwe is only available in spring when the first seasonal catch of herring is brought in. This is celebrated in festivals such as the Vlaardingen Herring Festival

A soused herring, Zoute Haring Dutch, or Matjes (German, Swedish), is an especially mild salt herring, which is ripened using enzymes in a salty solution, or brine. In the Netherlands they are called maatjesharing which means maiden herring

If you’re a vegetable….I mean vegetarian…oops….sorry

“Your raiment, O herring, displays the rainbow colors of the setting sun, the patina on old copper, the golden-brown of Cordoba leather, the autumnal tints of sandalwood and saffron. Your head, O herring, flames like a golden helmet, and your eyes, are like black studs in circlets of copper
~Joris Karl Huysmans (1848-1907) French author, as quoted in Larousse Gastronomique (1988)

The Vincent Van Gogh Museum

Now I understand what you tried to say to me,
How you suffered for your sanity,
How you tried to set them free.
They would not listen, they did not know how.
Perhaps they’ll listen now.
Don McLean – Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)

Like most museums there are paintings and notes on the walls, this museum is different, it is dedicated to one artist….can you figure out who? (Hint:Vincent Van Gogh)

The museum has work from his contemporaries and his influences as well.
As I worked my way through he crowds, yes it is a very popular museum; I was amazed how a self taught artist discovered his talent. How he was able to develop a style all his own based on others around him. It also amazes me how much he knew about colour and pigment, although that shouldn’t surprise me because many painters mixed their own colours.

His numerous self portraits would lead you to believe he was vain, that was not the case, many of his self portraits were never meant to go on display, he was practising his technique; why pay a model when a mirror will do.
One of the best places on the web to see his art is the Van Gogh Gallery The site contains most if not all of his paintings and drawings. I mention this because looking at his paintings is fine if all you just want to see what he has done, but if you really want to see his work you need to stand in front of it, to see how Vincent applied the paint, how his brush strokes create the image, how the subtle shades of colour mix to create the exact colour he wanted.

Unfortunately Van Gogh was not completely healthy; he was mentally ill, possibly with some form of epilepsy or any number of other illnesses. This impacted his life and art, from his stays in asylums to his radical change in style, and ultimately his death.

What would his life be like if he could have received modern mental health care? Would his art still have the impact it does today? Would he just be one of the many unrecognized artists? Would he have sold any of his paintings in his lifetime?

Perhaps he knew?

I can’t change the fact that my paintings don’t sell. But the time will come when people will recognize that they are worth more than the value of the paints used in the picture. ~VVG