Take a close look at these photos of the Place de l'Eglise (Church), Auvers-sur-Oise, France. What similarities and differences do you see? No, this is not a test.
When Drew and I visited the church in July, we had not yet seen Vincent Van Gogh's painting of it in the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. But we had seen a collection of similar churches in other French villages, constructed of local stone, primarily in the 12th century. While we admired the craftsmanship and appreciated the church's significance to the people throughout the centuries, there was little to set the church in Auvers apart from its contemporaries.
However, the church I saw a week later – through Van Gogh's eyes – was an entirely different story! It was alive with color and movement, as are so many of his paintings. The whole structure looked like it was getting ready to dance off its foundation and fly into glorious cobalt blueness. Who would have thought to cast the church in shades of violet, with streaks and flecks of dazzling orange atop its roof?
I wanted to peek in the windows, sit on the billowy grass, skip along one of the paths that flowed like rivers. I was inspired!
As a person who feels more comfortable coloring inside the lines, I was energized by Van Gogh's boldness. No one gave him permission to paint something different than what stood before him. He didn't watch a Youtube video about how to experiment with color, transform straight lines into waves, and put his soul into his art.
He listened to – and trusted – his own imagination.
Few approved, or even took notice, in Van Gogh's lifetime. But that wasn't the point.
It never is.
Imagination seeks expression, not approval.
Thank you, Vincent!
May we be so bold.