Doctor Who has had an incredibly long run. Some of my earliest tv memories include watching the first Doctor on his adventures when they played re-runs in the 70s. The stories were fantastic. Scary. And sometimes tough for a kid to follow, but I still did so anyway.
The 1980s were cruel and horrible to say the least and I stopped watching. I returned a couple of years ago to the fandom and spent a few weeks watching “New Who,” catching up and falling in love all over again. Mostly strong stories. Interesting characters. A great show to share with my spawn.
But one episode stands head and shoulders above the rest. One story kicked me right where I felt it the most, especially as an artist. “Vincent and the Doctor,” where the 11th Doctor, played by Matt Smith goes to the time of Vincent Van Gogh and meets him.
I have a huge background in art history, most of which I’ve thankfully forgotten, but the one thing that always struck me was how we see the paintings left by the artists but we don’t know the artists themselves. Their pain. Their motivations. How they felt. Paintings are an echo left behind, muddied by our interpretations and world views.
It’s impossible to really know any of that outside of their writings, other people’s observations and so on. But this one episode of Doctor Who made an honest and powerful attempt to capture the madness of Van Gogh and make him human.
It’s the episode I hang onto when things are tough. When paintings don’t sell or I question my very existence.
It wasn’t hard for me to pick a moment, THE moment, that every artist craves. Validation. It was an incredible gift the Doctor gave to Van Gogh by taking him to the future to see his eventual success, and though in the end it didn’t make a difference, it did for a moment. And sometimes that’s all that we have. Moments.
I will paint the Doctor again later this month but his face wasn’t important for this scene. I wanted the sincerity of Doctor Black’s words, and the effects on Van Gogh to be front and centre.
You can see how in the series of images, paintings often look terrible as they go. It’s hard for me to share these stages, especially since I paint live. But I think it’s so important because these stages happen in almost every painting and it’s worth pushing through. Getting to the good stuff.
Can I just say how much I hate painting beards? They dominate a face, so they have to come in early enough that I get the skin tones right, but can’t be flat or feel like they’re pasted on. I’m lucky enough to live with a bearded fellow, which helps me paint them more accurately.
Lots of subtle changes to the work leading up to the end.
“A Kick In The Feels”
20″ X 16″
Acrylic on canvas