Van Gogh's Painting Technique

by James Stuart
Van Gogh had a unique painting style.

Van Gogh had a unique painting style. Images

Vincent van Gogh is one of the most prominent painters of all time. Although he failed to achieve much success in his lifetime, his work as a Post Impressionist has had a significant effect on painting and popular culture. Van Gogh's painting techniques fall into a few simple categories.


One of Van Gogh's most interesting techniques was his use of color. At the beginning of his career, Van Gogh's colors were muted, but as he began to develop his own style his use of color changed. Throughout his career, Van Gogh relied very heavily on greens, blues and yellows. His work was generally bright and colorful, although a few of his paintings are more sombre with darker, almost monochromatic colors.


The composition in Van Gogh's paintings is unique. Van Gogh often used strong vertical lines in his paintings. The composition often draws the viewer's eyes to the center of the painting where much of the action is usually taking place. Van Gogh often tried to create harmony in his paintings by balancing the strong vertical lines with horizontal ones.


Van Gogh's use of brush strokes changed over the course of his life. Early in his career, when he was attempting to emulate the masters, his brushwork was refined. However, as he began to develop his own style, his brushwork changed. He became more bold with his brushstrokes, and this became one of his signature techniques. From the swirling lines seen in "Starry Night" to the claustrophobic curved lines of "The Bedroom," Van Gogh's brushstrokes often dominated his work.

Subject Matter

Van Gogh's subject matter is varied, but much of his work portrays landscapes and natural scenes. Works like "Starry Night" seem to show the conflict between nature and civilization, with nature dominating. Many of Van Gogh's most famous works are self-portraits where he portrays himself at various stages in his life. He also completed a number of famous still-life paintings of sunflowers and other objects.

Photo Credits

  • Images