Portrait of Vincent Art Coelho ©
My personal history on the Portrait of Vincent painting is I wanted an original image of his, not a print-so I modeled two of his canvases to come up with one subject. First I picked one of his self-portraits that he did; then in one of his landscape pictures there was a garden and a house in the background. Also, in most of the portraits that Vincent did of himself, he was not calm and reflective like in this one. They were flashy and dramatic and grabbed you like an electric octopus they were so powerful; and his eyes were as intense as fireballs. I’d always wanted Vincent to have a less tragic life. When I did this canvas I totally wanted to represent him studying something profound far off in nature. There is a kind of slight sadness to him though, which I really like in this canvas because I know how painters take that inner darkness and use it to express our deepest most unknown human emotions.
I could have never really have borrowed anything from Van Gogh’s soul. But what happened as far as our lives is they met on very familiar ground. We both grew up rural, which added to our intimacies with nature. Vincent was a preacher’s son; myself the son of a farmer. We were both raised with formal religion; and we both separated ourselves from that to find our faith in the common people- so our spiritual sense would never be out of focus when it came to who we were, and how we wanted to represent pathos or humility in our art. Van Gogh was not a writer or poet; but he did write very elegantly of his work in his letters and had poetry in his soul as much as in his paintings.
Actually my more impressionist work is done quite differently than the Impressionists. They worked out of doors and studied light and movement and contrasts of shadows; they labored with subtle impressions of nature, not in replicas. They wanted to express the way nature and they felt; and take it beyond the dirge of modern painting up to their time. I work indoors under bright light and where Vincent had a lavish expression with his paint brushes; my work is done in an almost subdued mosaic painstaking fashion. But I have the epic strain in me, too, and I can be quite explosive with my colors. I pick subjects like I am choosing them to be grand murals. My details can be so engrossing that I often use a magnifying glass to mix my colors precise enough to suit my artistic temperament. I’m not doing it exactly as it is in nature; I’m trying to get an imaginative balance between the rocks, trees, and vines climbing up a patio wall. I’m more into a composite imagining that can be more original than nature because nature repeats itself; and I isolate nature for my own purposes, and bring it into more pure lines where my fiction of pigment can run wild or be full of grace. I often abstract nature; make the shapes almost indefinable so one side of a canvas will balance with a different side where I use a whole different design with pearl-precise detail. And last, my connection with the old Impressionists is simply a result of the fact they weren’t afraid to experiment. They were ambitious in their expressive art. They dared to take chances and their genius could proved them out.
P.O. Box 249, Big Timber, Montana 59011