Vincent Van Gogh liked to paint his old shoes. Worn out shoes are chapters of life that have come and gone. The past is our history and it should be appreciated. Van Gogh is possibly the most famous artist there ever was. Most anyone could recognize Starry Night from twenty feet away. His fame is unprecedented, yet he experienced none of it. He is known by most as the crazy artist that cut off his ear. He did cut his ear off, but why? For those that want to dig deeper into this madman’s life, the truth is an intricate story.
To call someone crazy is an unfair dismissal of hard truths. His life was a tragedy. His madness is the product of a life of rejection, misfortune and shame. It is believed he suffered from temporal lobe epilepsy, a condition that causes unusual and erratic behavior. He may also have suffered from bipolar disorder. The build up of too many hardships led to his crises and eventually to his untimely death. He never sold one painting. His friends could be counted on one hand. Yet his greatest companion besides his brother Theo, was his artwork. At moments it was all he had. That is probably why he completed over three thousand paintings in his last four years. Nature gave him joy, the stars gave him hope.
Solace is found in his legacy. His unique colors have inspired millions. The entire town of Arles is committed to honoring his memory. One hundred and twenty five years ago, children here threw rocks at him as their parents encouraged it to drive the mad painter out of town. Now each sidewalk has markers pointing to the nearest spot where Van Gogh once stood with his easel and canvas.
Tomorrow I will rise early to go to the sunflower fields where he spent his time. I must believe that it was in these reclusive places where Vincent was able to no longer be an outcast. When he painted he was amongst his friends: the earth, the sky, the water, the wind, and the sun. These happy moments shine out of his paintings and continue to make people smile, including me. He is my hero. That is why I’ve come to Arles to walk in his shoes.