Starry, Starry Night

Trip Start May 22, 2009
Trip End Feb 16, 2010

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Flag of France  , Provence,
Friday, October 30, 2009

    Starry, starry, night. 
    Paint your palette blue and grey. 
    Look out on a summer’s day,
    With eyes that know the darkness in my soul.

Arrived in picturesque provencal France - immortalized by the many artist’s who have lived here over the years capturing the soft light, countryside and charming towns.  Arles is our destination and was home to Van Gogh’s most famous time of painting from 1888-1890. 

    Shadows on the hills. 
    Sketch the trees and daffodils. 
    Catch the breeze and winter chills.
    In colours on the snowy linen land. 

I was just thrilled to be in the same place that inspired this painter.  To know that I was beneath that same starry starry sky overlooking the Rhone.  Narrow streets hung with lamps and strung with ivy still hold the same charm.  All homes decorated with ancient shutters and worn doorways.  How could one not want to paint?

    Now I understand, what you tried to say to me
    And how you suffered for your sanity
    And how you tried to set them free.
    They would not listen, they did not know how. 
    Perhaps they’ll listen now. 

But what a sad story of a man impassioned by his art, yet rejected by all around him.  To the point where only his brother befriended and supported him.  Only selling 2 paintings during a lifetime, and even those that are given away ended up on hen-house doors and shot up by young passersby.  However did he find the determination to continue?  Even the one friendship he had ended so bitterly that he felt the need to main himself.  Thus triggering the descent into insanity. 

    Starry, starry night,
    Flaming flowers that brightly play.
    Swirling clouds and violet haze.
    Reflecting in Vincent’s eyes of China blue. 

I was so excited to wander around this town ad see the exact places that are pictured in famous works.  It’s amazing how much closer you can feel to a person just knowing you’ve been to the same places.  But of course, 120 years later things have changed.  Buildings are gone, skylines have changed, and 20th century influence is everywhere!  Not quite as romantic as a painting.  But instead of letting that get to me, I will sink myself into the paintings and see the world the way Vincent would have liked. 

    Colours changing hue.
    Morning fields of amber red.
    Weathered faces lined in pain
    And soothed beneath the artist’s loving hand.

Envious of the painter’s ability to tweak colours, add details, and as Vincent so skillfully did:  show movement and texture with brush strokes.  As I photographer, I must only capture what is there.  Although I can make some minute adjustments, it’s reality.  So many times I wish a tree would just move to the left, the shadow would fall differently, or that a person would get out of the way!  In the few places I’ve seen in Arles, Vincent had it just right!

    For they could not love you, but still your love was true
    And when no hope was left inside on that starry, starry, night

    You took your life as lover often do. 
    But I could have told you, Vincent
    This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you

    Like the strangers that you’ve met. 
    The ragged man in ragged clothes.
    The silver thorn, the bloody rose
    Lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow.

But instead of letting me get down, I will seek out more ancient places and dine in a tucked away jardin savoring the unique tastes of the area, and enjoy the skillful provencal cuisine as I gaze upon the 22 million pound sterling images that were worthless when Vincent was alive. 

    Now I think I know, what you tried to say to me

    And how you suffered for your sanity, and how you tried to set them free
    They would not listen, they’re not listening still.
    Perhaps they never will. 

    ~ written by Don Mclean, sung by Josh Groban

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