I had been wanting to get to Auvers for a while, the town where Van Gogh spent his last few months, and my friend Mavis kindly accompanied me (and guided me through the mysteries of the suburban train system). It was a powerful place to be. Vincent and his brother Theo are both buried there (thanks to Theo’s generous wife who decided they should be together), as is the church that Vincent painted which I had seen in the Orsay. We spent most of the day there, wandering and looking and sketching. From the graveyard you can walk out into the fields where Vincent painted his late masterpiece of the crows. It’s a gorgeous spot, and I sketched it in my journal, just for the thrill of being there and also because after so long in the city, it was marvelous to be in actual countryside again.
The church was covered in scaffolding as they retile the roof, but I had to sketch it as well.
I also fell, not surprisingly, for a tree, just near the site of the crows. I sketched it once and then went back the next week (I’ll post these after) to paint it again. Mavis and I also went up to the small room where Vincent lived and then died. It was a bit of a crowded tour, but I got in the room before most of the group did and was able to stand in silence for a minute and also take this photo. It was a moving place to be.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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