Vincent Van Gogh – Colors and Emotions

Vincent Van Gogh - SunflowersVincent Van Gogh is considered to be the most popular artist of Modern Art. According to, his art works Starry Night and Café Terrace at Night are the top ranking oil painting reproductions sold online and every time his originals hit the auction houses it is a major event.

It is sheer irony that in his lifetime, Van Gogh sold only one oil painting and now, long after his departure he is the top selling artist in the world.

Many associate Van Gogh as a deranged genius who cut off his ear and committed suicide. His turmoil and mental state are felt in his artworks, many of which show scenery from his daily life and are engulfed with emotions and deep anguish.

However, it would be wrong of us to disregard the great contribution Vincent Van Gogh brought to the modern art world. His vanguard use of colors and techniques to depict emotions brought something completely different to the then realistic world of painting.

“Do not quench your inspiration and your imagination; do not become the slave of your model.” – Vincent Van Gogh.

Looking at Van Gogh’s palette we see a great shift from his early beginning in 1880. Then, Van Gogh used dark earth tone colors such as raw umber, raw sienna and bottle green. His subjects were mostly peasants and the hard working class such as the “Two Peasant Women Digging In a Field With Snow” oil painting.

Then around 1886 a new movement in modern art swept Van Gogh. Impressionism came along and Van Gogh started capturing the essence of his subjects with a bright color palette that included Naples yellow deep, Vermillion, Red Ochre, Cinnabar Green and a wide array of Blues.

His emotions dictated his palette as he painted according to his feelings, sometimes he used to restrict himself from using certain colors, as he did with “Sunflowers” were he used almost exclusively shades of yellow.

Van Gogh painted as a man possessed with lots of oil painting straight from the tube at times, thick brushstrokes and rapid movements. He is said to have averaged a painting a day in his last days!

In his lifetime Van Gogh was able to complete over 870 paintings and over a thousand drawings and watercolors. It is a shame that his genius was only recognized after his passing, but we will forever have his art to give us a small glimpse into the world of the most talented artist of all times.

About the Author

Amitai Sasson of is an art world traveler on a mission to seek out the beauty and passion of the art world. As an avid enthusiast of art and oil paintings, he contributes to as Chief editor and writer.