Welcome to the latest installation of Inspired by Art! Lately, as you may have noticed, I've been thinking Green; after all, Emerald green is Pantone's 2013 color of the year! More importantly though, I've been noticing the first green shoots and buds of spring emerging in windy Chicago, even as the intermittent splinters of winter frost keep our windows shut and our scarves wrapped tight. There is an uncertainty in this year's spring renewal, as if the anxious roots are wondering whether it's safe to peek above the ground.
It was during this time of year in 1890 that Van Gogh was painting his final works in the Saint-Paul asylum at Saint-Rémy. Though his year-long stay at the hospital was often troubled by poor living conditions and crippling bouts of illness, Van Gogh produced about 150 paintings, among them some of his best-loved works, including the world-renowned Starry Night. Near the end of his stay, Van Gogh painted several still-lifes of flowers to convey his cautious optimism toward his impending release. He wrote to his mother:
"But for one's health, as you say, it is very necessary to work in the garden and see the flowers growing."
Among these final still-lifes was a beautiful painting, titled Vase with Roses. It features beautiful white blooms (originally pink, but faded to a soft white through the years) amongst a wash of exuberant greens. Naturally, I was inspired to feature an interplay among the various greens. Rather than using greens as monotones, I've layered them to add intrigue and depth, just like one would find in natural foliage. Light or medium greens like Bobbi Brown Mint eyeshadow or NARS Misfit eyeshadow duo (reviewed here) are a good base. Deeper greens like MAC Plush eyeshadow and MAKE UP FOR EVER Aqua Shadow #8E (reviewed here) add depth.
The color palette in Van Gogh's Roses provides clues as to what would pair well with our green eyeshadows. I love the blue outlines and shadows on the roses. MAC Parisian Skies (reviewed here) is a great soft blue that could play a similar role in my Van Gogh inspired look. Of course, we can't forget about the aged white of the roses themselves. Illamasqua Sex eyeshadow is a white that would contrast beautifully with the greens above. The large earthen vase in Roses is a great neutral that grounds the rest of the colors. Likewise, I would suggest colors like MAC Moleskin eyeshadow (reviewed here) and Bobbi Brown Cement eyeshadow for use in blending or adding a little depth to the eye crease in this look!
Nail colors are another great way to incorporate the similar verdant greens and complementary colors into a cohesive look. SpaRitual Peace & Harmony (reviewed here) is the color of blousey white roses. Sephora by OPI Havana Dreams mimics the petals' shadows. Sephora by OPI Going Nude Eh? and OPI Did You 'Ear About Van Gogh? (reviewed here) are the color of an earthen flask. Some of my favorite green nail polishes include: Revlon Minted, SpaRitual Introspective (reviewed here), Essie Going Incognito, and China Glaze Exotic Encounters (reviewed here)
Finally, a flower-inspired look wouldn't be complete without a scent to match! Since my last installation of Inspired by Art, I've been incorporating perfume to quite literally add another 'layer' to the experience! Rather than take roses literally, I think the perfumes that would best reflect Van Gogh's Roses would fall into to one of two categories : green florals or big white blooms. Two green scents I've been loving lately include Prada Infusion d'Iris and Cartier Baiser Volé. Two big white bouquet scents suggested by my mom include Estée Lauder Beautiful (a classic) and Estée Lauder Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia.
It is thought that Van Gogh saw the springtime blooming of the hospital garden as a renewal --- a reaffirmation of the strength and beauty of life. Perhaps seeking a similar renewal in himself, he painted these beautiful pale-pink blooms floating in a sea of springtime green. Unfortunately, his optimism was ultimately conquered by his illness, and he took his own life not three months after his release from Saint Paul. Although Van Gogh succumbed to the ravages of his winter, the seeds he planted have since bloomed, making the world a more beautiful place --- something we can take to heart as the timid green buds peek out through the frosty ground this spring!
Thanks for reading! What are your favorite Van Gogh paintings? What green items have you been loving lately?