Today your children were introduced to the art of Dutch Post-impressionist, Vincent Van Gogh. Some of Van Gogh’s most famous works are Starry Night, with its swirl of stars and moon over a sleepy town, and his number of self-portraits with his intense eyes staring into our gaze. As with many gifted artists, Van Gogh struggled with himself, remaining impoverished throughout his life and dying young. In the midst of a painful personal life, Van Gogh was able to create landscapes and still-lifes of great beauty, elegance and simplicity.
The story of Vincent Van Gogh is a case of extremes. He experienced extreme poverty in his younger years, having to quit school to go to work at 15, working in his uncle’s art gallery. Soon after he fell in love, was rejected in his proposal, and sold all his books except the Bible and committed himself to service to God. His anger at his situation; however, lingered as he bounced from job to job in various ministerial/teaching positions. He learned three languages beyond Dutch by the time he was 15, but was rejected for seminary because he refused to take the Latin exam for entrance.
Vincent was an itinerant preacher, a teacher, a womanizer and a self-taught artist. While we would not want Van Gogh’s life for any of our children, he is a great example of the human condition of almost limitless creativity in a flawed and broken vessel. God has imprinted each of us with His nature, yet we all have the curse of sin running through our veins. How we allow God to develop our creative capacity and how we harness that root of sin is the essence of human life. The story of Vincent Van Gogh is one of a tragic brilliance. I encourage you to read online about Van Gogh, print some of his paintings and put them around your house, look for the qualities of his paintings of color, texture, substance, and perspective, and talk about these with your children. Consider telling pieces of his story and how God uses the gifts of even those who are tragically broken by the effects of this sin-infected world.