Task 13 Learning from an Artist

Vincent Van Gogh

If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.

Learning from an artist is a great exercise to really test and stretch your technical skills. It will force you to try new things and learn new approaches, and this can only be a good thing for a developing artist!

Vincent Van Gogh is one of my favourites. Just reading up on his life, or watching the film ‘Loving Vincent’ is bound to conjure up inspiration for you. However, art is subjective, and if you have another artist in mind for this task, use them instead. The skills you gain are the same and the objective of the task will end up the same also: Learning from an artist to build on your own skills and techniques.

So to start, research your artist. Create a page of information that inspires you…facts on their life, images of their work… it will give you a great starting point and can help you start to think like them. Van Gogh didn’t just want to paint what he saw. He wanted to paint what he felt… when you know the emotions that went into the art, as well as the technique, you will see the work in a completely new way.

Once you have found out about your artist, you should get to work on imitating their style and doing some samples of their technique to learn about it.

You could sketch places that have meaning to you, just like Van Gogh did. Or paint some sunflowers to capture their forms and use the brilliant tones of yellow on a blue background (like his Paris series).

Did you know he was heavily influenced by Japanese art prints? See the image below with Van Gogh’s version, on the right, of the original Japanese print on the left.

Image taken from google images: https://artchive.ru/news/3304~Van_Gogh_and_Japan_the_fascination_that_changed_Vincents_style

Maybe you could research some prints and imitate them, just like Van Gogh did. Sometimes, inspiration comes from copying the artist’s approach and ideas that inspired them. You don’t always just have to replicate a painting, or part of a painting, of theirs to learn from them.


The image here is of Starry Night that I did in a class with my students. It’s not supposed to be exactly the same, but we worked on how to layer the colours and tones to create a similar effect. And I added features and changed compositions slightly, just like you can, to focus on areas of interest. It has really helped students to learn a new style of painting and see what is possible if you apply a different approach to your art.

I’ll be showing you how we did it in my next facebook live tutorial. I hope to see you there 🙂

Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and friendly art community – see you there 🙂

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART


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