Figure & Motion: Self-Portrait Research

I chose to look at some of Vincent Van Gough’s self-portraits because they expressed some of the mental turmoils he suffered through during his life. More specifically, his bandaged ear and his 1889 self-portraits. Van Gough’s self-portraits are known for their strong use of color to convey emotions, thick paint strokes, and fluidity of movement.


Self-portrait with a bandaged ear (1889)

In terms of color, Van Gough uses many different values and tones of blue in several of his self-portraits. Ranging from a variety of dark blues to light teals, Van Gough uses color to express his emotions at the given time within his paintings. Given Van Gough’s history with mental illnesses, the usage of the color blue could convey his battle with depression and severe anxiety, and expresses his innermost emotions without being too direct. To give his paintings texture, Van Gough used thick paint strokes to give more depth and emphasize certain aspects of his paintings, such as clothing or hair. His paint stokes also give his paintings fluid movement, as they draw the eye in swirl-like motions. The creases of fabric, the direction of hair, and even things as plain as a background are transformed by the way Van Gough incorporates movement into his artwork.


Self-portrait (1889)

Works Cited

Impact, The Net. “Vincent van Gogh Gallery.” Vincent van Gogh Gallery. N.p., n.d. Web.      22 Mar. 2017.



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