A fascinating new film about Vincent Van Gogh is out on Tuesday 14 April 2015. Vincent Van Gogh: A new way of seeing gives an insight into the man himself but also features painting after painting, in beautiful colour on the silver screen.
What did I learn?
* I did not know that he was so affected by the poor of London. He read Dickens and wrote to his brother that he was impressed with the writer's focus on working people. Of course, when you see the people featured in The Potato Eaters, they are reminiscent of so much of Dickens' descriptions of meal times and family life.
* The relationship with Gauguin was at once significant and destructive. It was, apparently, the breakdown of their relationship that resulted in the ear-cutting incident, rather than the influence of a prostitute.
* His troubled life also gave him inspiration. Some of his drawings while institutionalised are stunning.
* In the 70 days immediately prior to his death, he produced 80 paintings. Beautiful, beautiful paintings.
* The plethora of self-portraits came about because of a shortage of available models and the proximity of his own face. He was practising.
* His skill was, first and foremost, in drawing. His pen and ink works are intricate and are perfect for enjoying on a big screen.
* Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum is worth another visit.
He said "Art is long and life is short" and the man should be remembered not for his mental health issues but for the beauty of what he left behind.
If you have the chance to watch the film, I'd urge you to do so. It's not a piece of fiction and not romanticised, but we'd all be better for knowing more about how great artists create.