After Van Gogh Patience Escalier
17x15 oil on canvas
by Kim Blair
This is the second copy of an Old Master that I created for the final project in my painting course at the university. Vincent painted the original in August of 1888. He wrote to his brother Theo about a new model he was going to use to portray a peasant... an old man named Patience Escalier who was formerly a cowherd in Camargue, and now a gardener in Arles.
Van Gogh was inspired to infuse his work with more symbolism and mystery through the arbitrary use of color and brush work. He chose to render this portrait of Patience with deliberate crudeness in order to portray his ideal of a rustic rural peasant from southern France.
I encountered many interesting challenges trying to copy Van Gogh's Portrait of Patience Escalier. Energetic brush strokes that seem random when you are experiencing the painting as a viewer, made more sense when attempting to follow the mark making trail with a loaded paint brush applying the pigment to the canvas.
As I tried to match his color choices I started to see the connections within the hues... while attempting to replicate his brush work I began to achieve an understanding of the order within the seemingly chaotic marks... especially in the blue background/sky brush strokes surrounding the straw hat.
The crudely rendered paint application and brush work of Patience's weathered face is mirrored throughout the painting. Via his deft mark making Vincent successfully portrayed how this peasant/gardener was completely integrated with his rural life/surroundings... he had essentially become one with his environment.
Symbolism at its best!