Letters of Vincent van Gogh

Butterflies and Poppies is one of the unfinished paintings van Gogh did in the year before he died.

After spending the better part of October creating designs for Zazzle’s new treats product line, I decided it was time to do a new design for my main store, 400 Planets. My Fine Art category needed to be updated, so I added a new subcategory for Vincent van Gogh, and chose his Butterflies and Poppies as the first design for this category.

My usual workflow when designing for my stores is:

  1. Decide on a design.
  2. Create the PhotoShop file.
  3. Create a smaller file to be uploaded to my Zazzle account.
  4. Write a description for the design, create a title, create tags, note any miscellaneous information.

Sometimes when I write a description for a design, I keep it short—with a basic description of what the design looks like and the color. If the design is completely original or based on a famous artwork, I might write a more elaborate description.

For van Gogh’s painting, I wanted to write something special, but I was stuck. I had just discovered this painting, had never heard of it or seen it before, which was one of the reasons I chose it. So, I did a search on the Internet and found an article that discussed the painting. To my surprise, Butterflies and Poppies was one of van Gogh’s last paintings, which is probably why it was unfinished.

Like most fans of van Gogh, I knew that he was a prodigious letter writer and that he wrote hundreds of letters to his brother Theo. Through my search, I also discovered that he had a sister, Wilhelmina. In a letter to her almost one year before he painted Butterflies and Poppies, van Gogh mentions poppies and concludes, “The hours of trouble and battle will assuredly come and find us without our going to look for them.”

And in a June 22, 1888, letter to Wilhelmina:
Here we are now, living in a world of painting which is unutterably paralytic and miserable. The exhibitions, the picture stores, everything, everything, are in the clutches of fellows who intercept all the money. And do not suppose for a moment that this is only my imagination. People give a lot of money for the work after a painter himself is dead. And they are always slighting the living painters, fatuously defending themselves by pointing to the work of those who are no longer there.

Vincent van Gogh died July 29, 1890.

Vincent van Gogh

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