This is an essay I wrote for a community college art appreciation class. My teacher isn't expecting brilliance, just basic knowledge and thought. I kind of think I over did it XD Anyways, if anybody could give their input on anything they think I need to fix, I'd love feedback! I'm not doing so great in this class (I'm hovering between a B and C and I'm used to As T_T). Help is appreciated! lol
The works I have chosen are Wheat Field with Cypresses (1889) by Vincent Van Gogh and Landscape Near Figueras by Salvador Dali. In this essay I will discuss how the paintings are similar to one another and different from one another.
In terms of color, the paintings do share one thing similar; they both utilize the color green. I think this because both are landscapes and have plants in them. Green is the first color one thinks of when you think of “nature” colors. But that’s the only similarity. Van Gogh uses bright jewel tones to evoke a feeling of summer and warmth: the bright yellow of the wheat field, the clear dark blue of the sky, the deep indigo of the snowless mountains (1). Dali’s colors are darker than Van Gogh’s; I think this is partly a lack of experience on his part as this painting was completed when he was six years old (3). Perhaps he would have added more contrast and light had he been more experienced, but with what he has done, the painting evokes a mood of its own.
The subject of both paintings are landscapes. Van Gogh has a wheat field with some sort of bush, a small clump of flowers, cypress trees, mountains, and an azure sky. Dali’s work also appears to have a cypress, maybe a reference to Van Gogh, as well as mountains and possibly some shrubbery. He also put in a house or two, but the bulk of the painting is of the land. Van Gogh’s painting is focused more on the feeling of summertime as made obvious by the bight colors (1)(2). Dali’s looks almost misty and exotic. It reminds me of possibly the Himalaya Mountains, or even the volcanic mountains in Hawaii – any mountains you would find in an exotic land. I think he does this with the dark emerald plant life and snow capped mountains.
When it comes to technique both use loose brush work. Van Gogh was influenced by Japanese art where each stroke of the brush was considered significant (2). Rather than try to blend his colors all into one solid shape, he chose instead to let the eye blend them. Each stroke was thoughtfully executed: length, thickness, color, straight, curved, impasto, flat. This also helped to create texture. Dali’s brushwork in Landscape Near Figueras is somewhat more blended but is certainly not hard edged or sharp (3). This lends a misty look: lack of detail, blurred. Almost like he was more focused on the over all shape of the “big picture” than the little details and textures. It looks like he put lots of small little brushstrokes right next to each other to where they weren’t fully blended and each stroke is visible, but not fully distinct (5).
Both artists used oil for these paintings (1)(3). Many artists prefer to use oil because it doesn’t dry quickly and so they can go back and change anything they don’t like (5). Van Gogh like to use oil in part because he could put it on thickly and this created texture and a feeling that the painting itself was coming off the canvas (2). Dali’s painting was considered his first masterpiece (3). He painted Landscape Near Figueras on the back of a post card. The paint was so thin in some places that part of the design was visible (3). I believe he did so on purpose for the purpose of aesthetics.
Another common element is that both make use of diagonal lines. Diagonal lines give a feeling of space, and help move the eye through out the work of art. Van Gogh achieves this in Wheat Field with Cypresses with the shape of the mountains in the background and the edge of the wheat field in the foreground. This causes the viewers eye to bounce for the tallest mountain to the tip of the tallest tree to the bushes to the wheat field before being directed up from the tree to the sky, down to the shortest mountain and across the to the tallest mountain again. Dali’s main diagonal lines in Landscape Near Figueras consists of the thin pathway in the foreground, the slope of the grass and the line of tree and roof tops in the middle ground, and the slope of the mountain in the background. This has the same effect as Van Gogh’s: the eye latches first on the brightest spot of white in the pathway and is drawn to a dark patch of trees in front of the house. From there they eye moves up to the lowest edge of the mountain’s slope and follows that to where it meets a white snow cap of the mountain behind it. Your eye follows the slop of the mountain down to the tallest tree and drops to Dali’s signature before sliding right to the bush in the corner. It follows the branch of a bush back to the path and starts all over again. These masters of art knew intuitively how to get an eye roaming and used their techniques shamelessly.
In relation to lines, as discussed previously, both artists used vertical lines in their paintings. Vertical lines give a feeling of strength and stability. Van Gogh’s cypress in his painting is a strong vertical line and the only one in his painting. Trees are also traditionally associated with strength and stability (maybe because they are vertical). In Dali’s painting, he too uses a cypress tree to create a vertical line. This is like some sort of silent conversation through the ages, a nod, an acknowledgement. With this one, almost insignificant detail, you can see just how much influence a master artist can have on future generations of other masters.
In conclusion, The paintings share very many similarities. I believe that Dali was very influenced by Van Gogh in his early years just from comparing these two paintings alone. It seems to me that art is like a signature; it’s unique, and even though somebody else had to teach you to do it and you sometimes learn by copying, it’s always your own and the best way to say, “I was here. I felt, I thought, I lived.” Art leaves a mark on those who follow and the best thing you can ever hope to come from your art is that people will like it so much that they will copy you, and carry on your legacy.
PS sorry there aren't clear paragraphs, this didn't copy well from microsoft word!