Vincent’s Self Portrait

‘…painted portraits have a life of their own that comes from deep in the soul of the painter…’ Vincent van Gogh

A grubby strip of cloth
bound around his head
distracts from the bright
spot of burning reds,
a Japanese print
pinned to the wall
before he sliced his ear.
He painted the background
of his self-portrait of despair
so lovingly: a colourful diversion
of figures, flowers and gnarled
thorn branches: a source of inspiration.

Kim M. Russell, 2018

Related image
Van Gogh self portrait with bandaged ear – from the Vincent van Gogh Gallery

My poem for Poets United Poetry Pantry #395

Mary has shared a photo she took inside the Milwaukee Art Center a couple weeks ago, which prompted me to share a poem I ‘found’ in an article about a new Vincent van Gogh exhibition. 


40 thoughts on “Vincent’s Self Portrait

  1. My goodness this is good!💖 You have brought Vincent to life with your wonderfully vivid descriptions! Especially love; “He painted the background of his self-portrait of despair so lovingly.”💖

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love how you took such a deep look into this self-portrait….some things I had not even thought about like the background. Amazing how our self-portraits that come from deep within us onto a canvas of paints or words or digital pixels show more than we even imagine.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well observed Kim.
    Genius sometimes brings with it ‘madness.’ Vincent fought his demons with fortitude – but oft they won. His genius lives on.
    Anna :o]

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Anna. The new exhibition, Van Gogh and Japan, looks very exciting. It’s on from 23 March 2018 – 24 June 2018 at the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. I would love to go!


  4. Yes indeed he has painted the background of his self-despair lovingly. One would really never guess by looking at a lot of his works Just watched part of a movie “Loving Vincent” last night….’the world’s first feature-length, oil-painted animation.’ I eventually tired of the movie, but really it was fascinating to view the intricate oil painted scenes. You might want to try to find this. I checked it out from the library. It is a 2017 film.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Love van Gogh … especially his use of beautiful yellow – though I read that this may have been a result of his sight being affected by glaucoma – or perhaps lead poisoning. That has, since then, often left we wondering – when looking at a piece of art or reading a piece of literature – what is it that has taken the artist to where they have gone, artistically. The van Gogh quote gives me pause.

    An interesting take on the artist – well rendered.

    Liked by 1 person

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