Loving Vincent painter Dena Peterson
“Wheatfield With Crows” is one of the five scenes painted by Peterson for “Loving Vincent”

Dena Peterson is a painter/animator for the Academy Award-nominated movie, “Loving Vincent,” a film made with more than 65,000 frames of oil paintings by 125 artists.

Peterson recently blogged about her experience, about which she says, “As I studied the brushstrokes of Van Gogh, via high-resolution photos of his work, I became intimately involved with trying to recreate them. What color were they? How was the paint applied? What size and shape was his brush? What direction were his brushstrokes? I felt I needed to truly get inside his head as an artist in order to pay tribute to the work. I listened to the audio version of Irving Stone’s book Letters to Theo while walking to and from the studio. I wanted to really know him and understand his life and his struggles.”

Loving Vincent painter Dena Peterson
Dena Peterson, “Hayfield with Crows,” oil, Plein air

She goes on to share 10 things she learned from Van Gogh during this process, including the importance to “study and learn, then go beyond”:

“Many people say that Vincent taught himself to paint. He actually took many classes and was extremely well-read. He studied extensively about drawing and painting. I don’t believe that any of us are ‘self-taught’; we have all learned from those who came before us. Vincent had the motivation to study and learn all he could from the masters and his contemporaries on his journey as a painter. However, he then took his art in his own direction, never forgetting what he learned. He began with darker colors in a more realistic fashion. Then, inspired by Japanese prints and Impressionism, he pushed beyond even this, creating his unique style. He became posthumously known as the Father of Expressionism.

Loving Vincent painter Dena Peterson
Dena Peterson, “Chamisa on the Chama,” oil

Another lesson she learned was to “stay true to your own vision.” 

Loving Vincent painter Dena Peterson
Peterson in Gdansk, Poland, home of BreakThru Film Studios, where she painted for “Loving Vincent.” Peterson is also a field instructor for the 7th Annual Plein Air Convention, taking place this week in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

“Van Gogh only sold one painting during his lifetime, and that was to another artist. Yet, he stayed true to his art, to his style,” Peterson says. “He did not change who he was in order to be more appealing to the public. He did not copy others who may have been more trendy at the time. He may have been inspired by new art movements, but he took them to a new and completely different direction.”

Visit denapaints.com to read her full list of “10 Things I Learned from Vincent Van Gogh.”

Related article: We Can Finally Watch the Highly Anticipated “Loving Vincent”


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