Postcards From the Margins: Happy Birthday to Me!

Vincent Van Gogh's "Blossoming Almond Tree," St.-Remy:  Feb 1890
Vincent Van Gogh’s “Blossoming Almond Tree,” St.-Remy: Feb 1890

This is one of my favorite Van Gogh paintings, for the colors and simplicity and the fact that there are places in the world (Provence, for one) where something (anything!) blooms in February.

And since it is my birthday, and I’ve started out with one favorite, I’ll dedicate today’s blog to nine other of my favorite things about Vincent Van Gogh (besides, of course, the amazing novel ms my agent is reading even as I write!).  Here they are, in generally increasing favorite-ness:

9.  He was Dutch, and had red hair.  My grandfather was Dutch, and had red hair.

8.  He was an all-or-nothing kind of person, with religion, with friendships, with his artwork.

7.  He was a prolific letter-writer, although letters written by him and received by others are much easier to come by than letters received by him.

6.  His younger brother, Theo.  Theo was terrifically supportive–emotionally and financially–of Vincent for both of their lives.  Theo died very shortly–months only–after Vincent.

5.  By many accounts, he was soft-spoken.

4.  He had a fondness for coffee, and for down-and-out people.

3.  Even though he is perhaps best known for his landscapes, he loved painting portraits more than anything.

2.  He was afraid of madness.

1.  He found the courage, nonetheless, to paint the portrait of a fellow patient when he resided in an asylum in St.-Remy.  “It is curious,” he wrote to his mother while working on the portrait, “that after one has been with them for some time and got used to them, one does not think of them as being mad any more.” The subject of this portrait, a previously anonymous patient, is a main character in the novel I hope and dream will some day, maybe even soon, come into the world.

I’ll be taking some time off for the best birthday present ever–a visit from my kids.  Hope you all have a great 1st week of August.

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