Van Gogh: How Wonderful Yellow Is


Vincent Van Gogh was a revolutionary artist. His post impressionist and abstract paintings are timeless due to their complexity. His masterpieces are inspirations, rebelling against common impressionist paintings. Van Gogh was a pioneer of the post impressionism movement. He experimented with lines, shapes and forms. Despite Van Gogh’s talent and timeless success, he was clinically depressed – leading to his suicide in 1890. This article will focus on mental health, and the extent to which people will go to achieve happiness.

Van Gogh used to write about his desire to eat yellow paint. He thought of yellow as a cheerful colour, stating that it: “stands for the sun”. Therefore deducing that, by eating yellow paint, he too could be happy. Through a desperate attempt to satisfy his manic depression, Van Gogh wanted to poison himself, trying to ease his pain. He was prevented from doing so by his doctor at St. Rémy Institution. This is an example of the extensive means people will go to in order to be happy.

This heartbreaking story may be an extreme, but it outlines the mental trauma that Van Gogh endured. Van Gogh was diagnosed with: “hallucinatory psychosis, alcoholism, turpentine poisoning and gas intoxication, but also schizophrenia, manic-depressive disorder, a metabolic disorder, and even sunstroke” (Van Gogh Museum).

Letters left by Van Gogh for his brother Theo are first-hand examples of his necessity for treatment. Written before the production of his Self Portrait with Straw Hat, Van Gogh exclaimed, “I am so angry with myself because I cannot do what I should like to do, and at such a moment one feels as if one were lying bound hand and foot at the bottom of a deep dark well, utterly helpless.” An interpretation of the portrait is the depiction of the crumbling health of Van Gogh. He demonstrates melancholy through the thick application of oil paint, the neutral colour scheme and hollowness of his expression. The painting could also be considered pleasant, The most prominent colour throughout the piece is yellow. It relates to the association of yellow, with happiness. Painting was always therapeutic for Van Gogh. It could demonstrate calmness throughout a difficult period of his life.

The colour yellow is common throughout Van Gogh’s paintings, and often carries the same feeling. A well-known example is Starry Night.

This iconic piece is one of Van Gogh’s most studied creations.There is a noticeable contrast between the light and dark colours, adding depth to the piece. The complex sky consists of movement and texture. Every individual brushstroke is visible. The sky could represent both safety, and faith. Being the son of a minister, Van Gogh often infused religious meanings in his works. This piece could represent Van Gogh’s security, found through faith. Large halos of light surround a village, in which a church steeple stands out. The colour yellow once again has great significance throughout this piece, symbolizing a greater power. The painting could suggest the isolation the artist felt, outshone by his faith. This brings one back to the question: how do people find ways to work towards happiness? Van Gogh symbolizes happiness through the colour yellow, believing that eating it could be a means to console himself. This can be indirectly compared to other problems such as substance abuse. For example, people often try to heal themselves, and stop pain through substances. Alcoholics search for solace in alcohol consumption.

Therefore, as absurd as the consumption of paint is, it is as justifiable as common means being taken for comfort. Can we justify these means? We shouldn’t have to. Youth mental health support is being offered all around Toronto, and is easily accessible. If ever in need of support or care, please text: 68-68-68, a youth crisis text line. Speak to guidance counsellors, parents or friends.


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