On this day in 1888, which is 130 years ago, Vincent Van Gogh cut of a piece of his right ear in a bout of anguish brought on by his fight with Paul Gauguin, who was leaving Arles and their shared yellow house. Earlier in the evening Gauguin had threatened Vincent with a saber, and there’s some conjecture that Paul had nicked Vincent’s ear, and Vincent merely covered up for him. Van Gogh hadn’t been in a very stable mental condition for a long time, and was prone to passionate outbursts. He was undoubtedly too intense a personality for Gauguin to be in close proximity with, and vice versa, but Vincent, who had virtually no recognition for his art in his lifetime, cherished the opportunity of working together with another artist and forging a new revolution in painting. When all this fell apart, it was too much for him.

Vincent Van Gogh Self-Portrait with Cut Ear by Eric Wayne: 12/2016.

The painting above is not by Vincent, but is my tribute to him, in a style approximating his own, but done using my own digital impasto painting technique. Of course he didn’t manage to knock off a self-portrait while his eat was freshly cut and still bleeding, but I wondered what it would look like if he did do such a painting, and at perhaps his lowest moment.

Nobody can really paint like Vincent, and I’ve never seen a fake that I couldn’t see through, and thousands upon thousands of people have tried. I even think some of the paintings that are generally accepted as real are fakes. Mine, of course, is no exception.

I like to think it’s not a bad tribute, though, and shows how someone might continue his enduring artistic legacy into the new millennium, even while using a computer to do so.

Here is a real painting by the artist with a bandaged ear.

Self-portrait with Bandaged Ear, Easel and Japanese Print, January 1889, by Vincent Van Gogh.

And here’s another:

Self-portrait with Bandaged Ear, January 1889, by Vincent Van Gogh.

Van Gogh is probably most famous for cutting off his ear, and maybe without that legend surrounding him, and his episodes of madness, he wouldn’t be so popular today. But his art itself is far more interesting than relevant than his self-mutilation of 130 years ago, even if I made a tribute to thew incident. Vincent is an artist that I never tire of, who just grows more on me, and who continues to take my breath away. Even if he is famous for the wrong reason, or partly so, he deserves to be a famous artist with paintings in art museums.  Some say he’s overrated, but I’d argue overrated for the wrong reasons, and underrated for the right ones.

For a more extended analysis of why Vincent is great, see my article about my tribute painting, which goes well into why I admire him, with lots of pics.

Is Vincent someone to think about at this  time of year. For me, despite the madness and the tragedy, he is, because besides all that he’s a very honest, humble, and good painter, and to the degree that he’s flipping amazing.

~ Ends

23 replies on “Anniversary of Van Gogh Severing His Ear.

  1. Good comments. Van Gogh is a favorite of mine as well. Loved wandering through the museum in Amsterdam, even though at the time, they were doing Prints of Paris while some of his work was on loan to Paris.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I really like the brush strokes on your portrait. The swirly pattern you’ve used feels like it grows out of Van Gogh’s own brush stroke style. It’s how I imagine he would have painted if he had gone on to develop further. What software did you use for this? It’s a super job!
    I saw some of his original work in the Musee D’Orsay in Paris last year. Having seen many prints I had never realised how luminous his actual work is. It was captivating – I couldn’t keep my eyes off it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi. Thanks for the compliments, and, yeah, Van Gogh paintings are even more luminous in person.

      I used Photoshop and Painter to make the image. The digital impasto technique I came up with on my own. Most people don’t find it an avenue worth exploring, so I don’t know if anyone else has figured out how to do it. If they have, I haven’t seen it. It was a lot of trial and error.


      Liked by 1 person

  3. Eric, you’ve really channeled Van Gogh’s expression within your portrait. I am amazed that the impasto technique was realized digitally! The colors and luminosity make this painting rather lifelike. Really great exploration of digital materials. I’ve been getting into the medium quite a bit lately myself. Awesome painting and post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Adam. I’ve been a huge fan of Van Gogh for decades, so it comes fairly naturally to imitate his style, as I’m so used to looking at and studying his paintings.

      Glad to see another artist working digitally.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Eric, I enjoyed your take on the plethora of Van Gogh films in a prior post you wrote. I’m just getting my feet wet in digital media, but it is already very rewarding. I enjoy the ways that it can bolster and add new layers to traditional media too.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. This is a self-illusion: digital media are incapable to “add new layers”, they are flat. Also it is simply not the same as to create, truly create by yourself with your own alive means & material matter. Computer has only that many means & already by this is dictating you the narrow boundaries. Also the material piece of art has SUCH an impact that is by now means comparable with the shallow, design-like impression.


      3. You sure you want to put your name on that comment? I get that you have a problem with digital painting, but, uh, do you even know what layers are in Photoshop or similar programs? There’s literally talking about “layers” and there’s “figuratively”, and you can add both with digital mediums depending on your skill-set, background, and so on… But, convince yourself that if you splash around watercolor on a sheet of paper it’s automatically superior if you want. The world will spin with or without you. It doesn’t care.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. P.S.
        an expression of one’s creativity does not HAVE TO be always called “art” – there are many different ways of expressing creative urge (entertainment, for one, aesthetics, for two, etc…). & they have DIFFERENT IMPACT & purpose too.
        Collingwood “The principles of art” – very enlightening book…


  4. This is a VERBALLY brilliantly looking piece – yet it is a pity its digital. Also the face on it is somewhat similar to yours. I think his brush stroke was shorter too.

    “Van Gogh is probably most famous for cutting off his ear, and maybe without that legend surrounding him, and his episodes of madness, he wouldn’t be so popular today.” IS THAT SO?!
    Never thought of it. I find it a pity that you repeat this nonsense in your article, especially that you speculate yourself: “…maybe without … he wouldn’t be so …”.
    I am SURE it is not like that. All the proper museums have his paintings, he is in all art history, there is the museum for only his works, his art is being constantly quoted here & there etc.
    When being a teen I had by chance seen a photo of 1 of his paintings – & fell in love with it. Without having known any thing about his personal troubles back then. Surely I am not the only one in the world. Your presumption implies that humans are unable to SENSE & appreciate real outstanding art.
    I would not repeat the inappropriate to reality above notion of an ignorant minority about van Gogh’s art’s highly deserved fame.


    1. Have you had your coffee this morning? You realize your comment is a bit hostile, don’t you? As for your arguments, well, they are self-indictments on the face of it, so I need do nothing to refute them.


      1. I have re-read my comment – nope, not “hostile”.
        Just not flattering, honest & factual.
        (as for me I as an artist/web-designer/… would be thankful to someone who gave me a factual feed-back like mine about the length of the brush-stroke. You seem to be a bit narcissistic?.. Or am I mistaken? 🤔)
        Van Gogh is very important to me, his art I mean. SO I prefer to openly stand up for the true reasons of the immense outstanding impact & quality of his art.
        “You realise../coffee…” – oo. How patronising 🤓 you sound. But thank you for caring – next time you can bring me my coffee 👽.


      2. I didn’t say you were dishonest or that you didn’t believe what you were articulating, and it doesn’t surprise me you are not aware of your aggression. What I will say is that you misread my text and you know nothing about digital painting, in which case your highly biased subjective opinion is not “fact” but an ugly piece of self-serving fiction.


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