Learn to Paint like Van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh is thought of as one of the greatest artists that ever lived.

Born in 1853, he originally wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a pastor. But, after failing in this endeavour, Vincent pursued the life of an artist. His genius wasn’t recognised in his lifetime. In fact, he only sold one painting while he was alive. In 1990, one of his paintings, Portrait of Dr. Gachet, sold for $82.5 million. He is often known for cutting off his own ear, but most people will recognise his famous paintings of sunflowers and landscapes.

Impressionism and post-impressionism

Impressionism is a style in which artists use small, narrow but very effective brush strokes to vividly display the changing qualities of light and darkness within a painting. They use thick paint and vivid colours. Their paintings are normally focused on ordinary subject matter but incorporate unusual visual angles. Famous impressionist painters include Monet, Manet and Cezanne.

Van Gogh is thought of being a member of a slightly different school of art called the post-impressionists. The post-impressionists took their style from the impressionists but differed in a few key ways, mainly by using geometric forms and unusual colours.


Van Gogh’s work is most notable for motion, paintings such as Starry Night (above) have been praised for how it captures the deep mystery of motion and light. Anyone interested in both science and art should check out this interesting video below.

Facts about Vincent

  • He sold only one painting while alive, The Red Vineyard. He became famous only after his death.
  • In 10 years he created around 900 paintings, many of which are considered as some of the greatest works ever created.
  • Vincent wrote over 800 letters. The majority of these were sent to his brother and closest friend, Theo.
  • Van Gogh never had formal training in art and is considered self-taught.

Source(s): TED-Ed, Philip Scott Johnson