Poem: I Am Van Gogh

Updated on March 12, 2018

The Beautiful Ordinariness of Vincent Van Gogh's Art

I've developed a keen interest in Vincent Van Gogh's art lately. His paintings are so raw and earthy, yet refined and elegant. They stick to me like an earworm, playing in my head over and over. His pictures of people in the villages and fields told me more about him than any biography that I've read.

He often used hundreds of different colored tubes of paint to get the dirt the farmers plowed just right, and in many ways, this behavior defined just how skilled and exact Van Gogh's art was. He made us feel the magic of people in the villages, those rosy-cheeked, broad-shouldered farmers and sturdy women carrying buckets of water across their shoulders.

Sure, Van Gogh lived in the Netherlands and later moved to Paris like most painters of his time. But what made him different to me, was that he was not a member of the noble class but a humble person who admired people who worked with their hands. Van Gogh was a man who loved to capture the ordinary folk doing their mundane jobs and their leisure time activities.

His passion for art and nature's beauty seemed to override his ability to take care of himself. He broke down mentally, spent years in an insane asylum and eventually killed himself. He passed on far too young, missing out on many of the experiences that most of us enjoy. But I'm sure if he could do it all over, he wouldn't have changed a thing.

I Am Van Gogh

I am the swirling blue skies

And crescent moons

Of Van Gogh’s

Starry Nights.

The working men

And women

Of quiet, humble

Neunen village,

Lugging barrels,

Scaling roofs

On narrow ladders,

Walking along

Winding dirt paths

with broad shoulders

and satisfied smiles.

Drinking in French pubs,

families in simple homes

with a desk, a chair

stark surroundings,

life's necessities.

I am the rosy-cheeked farmer

with big, lumbering oxen.

I am the artist

that plows the earth,

that digs up a myriad of colors,

that struggles with his mind

in the loneliness of the night.

I am Van Gogh

buried with my sunflowers,

Forever at the easel,

Painting the green fields

Lined with bright red poppies.

I Am Van Gogh


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    • Mark Tulin profile image

      Mark Tulin 6 days ago from Santa Barbara, California

      Thanks Dora for pointing that out. It's interesting that Van Gogh, one of the most celebrated artists of all time, never sold a painting when he was alive. That probably kept him humble.

    • CaribTales profile image

      Dora Weithers 6 days ago from The Caribbean

      Impressed that words like "ordinary" and "humble" are chosen to describe this exceptional man and his work. Thank you for sharing these insights about him. Mental illness robbed both him and us.

    • Mark Tulin profile image

      Mark Tulin 8 days ago from Santa Barbara, California

      Thanks, Tim. The respect is mutual. I'm glad you were able to see Van Gogh’s work through my words. And I was deeply touched by your compliments.

    • Tim Truzy info4u profile image

      Tim Truzy 8 days ago from U.S.A.


      I read your poem and then listened to your work. Startling!

      Not only did I draw closer to the famous artist, I felt a sense of impending limitation of time on Earth to continue to create such visual master pieces.

      Although due to my vision loss, I can't enjoy the works like I did while younger, I can clearly imagined them as you read.

      I want to add: You have a style of presentation similar to what I hear from actors and performers who read audio books. I am humbled and honored to have shared the experience you presented to us.

      Thank you again.


      Much respect,

      You are a true poet with a depth of understanding of people and art.


    • Mark Tulin profile image

      Mark Tulin 9 days ago from Santa Barbara, California

      Thanks, Linda.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 9 days ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Van Gogh's story is very sad, but I love your poem. It's a great tribute to the artist and his work.

    • Mark Tulin profile image

      Mark Tulin 9 days ago from Santa Barbara, California

      Thanks, John. There's a small museum where I live, and they have one painting of his of a wheat field. I'll often go in just wanting to look at that. There's something about his art that fills you up like a good meal.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 9 days ago from Queensland Australia

      Mark, I love this tribute to Van Gogh. He is undoubtedly one of my favourite artists (not just his art but his story as well). I have two prints of his Sunflowers and Irises in my living room.

      You captured his essence well in your poem. Well done.

    • Mark Tulin profile image

      Mark Tulin 9 days ago from Santa Barbara, California

      Thanks Three Keys and Janis. He suffered to make us happy. It's interesting, all we see is the beauty in his art and not the suffering.

    • threekeys profile image

      Threekeys 10 days ago from Australia

      I liked your tribute to Vincent Van Gough.

      Such suffering and such beauty. I hope one day that changes within the human psyche.

      Thankyou for your lovely poem.

    • janshares profile image

      Janis Leslie Evans 10 days ago from Washington, DC

      Beautifully written article and tribute to the great Vincent Van Gogh. His work iconic, your poetry honors him and his art very well. Delightful and original piece.