Paying Homage to Van Gogh

Coursework 1.2, Creative Arts 1.2 Creative Arts Skills, Creative Arts BA (Hons), Project 1: Identify, Locate and Plan

Homage Ideas

I initially wanted to continue a theme of looking at Celtic art and started working through some ideas using procreate:

I decide to explore the idea of paying homage to a famous painting like “The Starry Night” but bringing in Celtic elements like the photographs of the Celtic crosses.

The first step was to look at what makes “The Starry Night” a successful and effective piece of art and decide which elements I wanted to pay homage to.

Van Gogh’s Starry Night

The Starry Night” is a painting by Vincent van Gogh, created in 1889. The painting is considered one of van Gogh’s masterpieces and is widely recognised for its bold, vibrant colours and dynamic composition.

One of the critical elements of “The Starry Night” is its use of colour. To depict the night sky and the trees, Van Gogh uses a bright, vibrant colour palette, with intense primary colours such as blue, red, and yellow, which convey a sense of energy and excitement and contrast the dark, moody background.

Another critical element of “The Starry Night” is its use of brushstrokes. Van Gogh’s brushstrokes are thick, textured, and expressive, with thick, impasto strokes used to depict the swirling clouds and the rippling surface of the village pond. The brushstrokes convey a sense of movement and energy and give the painting a sense of dynamism.

The composition of “The Starry Night” is also notable. The painting features a central axis that runs from the top of the artwork to the bottom, with swirling lines and curves that create a sense of movement and energy. The central axis is framed by the trees and the hills, which invoke a sense of stability and balance in the painting.

Overall, “The Starry Night” is a masterful example of van Gogh’s use of colour, brushstrokes, and composition to convey emotion and movement in his paintings. The bright, bold colours, thick, expressive brushstrokes, and dynamic design combine to create a powerful and profoundly emotional picture.

My Painting Design

  • Use bold, vibrant colours: Van Gogh used bright, bold colours in his paintings. To paint his style, I wanted to use a rich colour palette focusing on strong primary colours such as blue, red, and yellow.
  • Use thick, expressive brushstrokes: Van Gogh was known for his thick, expressive brushstrokes, which he used to convey emotion and movement in his paintings. To paint in his style, I planned to use a heavy hand with my brush, using thick, textured strokes to depict the Celtic crosses and trees.
  • Use light and shadow to create depth: Van Gogh was skilled at using light and shadow to create a sense of depth and dimension in his paintings. To paint his style, I intended to use strong contrasts of light and dark to make sense of depth and dimension.
  • Use composition to create movement: Van Gogh used dynamic compositions, often featuring swirling lines and curves conveying a sense of movement and energy. I planned to use a similar arrangement, with lines and curves flowing and moving throughout the painting.
  • Experiment with different techniques: Van Gogh was an experimental artist who always tried new techniques and approaches. For me, this was important; I have never painted this style, so I wanted it to be experimental and playful.

The Result

Ethics of homage

Paying homage in art through appropriation, reference, or tribute is a complex issue with ethical implications. On the one hand, homage can be seen as a way for artists to acknowledge the influence of their peers and predecessors. It can show respect to those artists who have paved the way for their artistic endeavours. On the other hand, homage can be seen as a form of exploitation, with artists taking the work of others and using it for their purposes without proper credit or compensation.

One of the critical ethical concerns with homage in art is the issue of ownership and control. When artists appropriate elements from another work, they effectively take control of that work and use it for their own purposes. This can be seen as a violation of the original artist’s rights, mainly if the appropriation is done without proper credit or compensation.

Another ethical concern with homage is the issue of originality. When an artist references or pays tribute to another artist’s work, they are essentially borrowing elements from that artist’s work, which can be seen as a lack of originality on the part of the referencing artist. This can be particularly problematic if the reference is done in a way that is too similar to the original work, as it can be seen as an attempt to exploit the original artist’s style or reputation for personal gain.

There are, however, ways in which homage in art can be done ethically. One way is to ensure that proper credit is given to the original artist through an explicit reference, a citation, or attribution. Another way is to ensure that the homage is done in a way that is respectful and acknowledges the original artist’s contribution to the field. This can be done by using the original work as a starting point for one’s work rather than simply copying or replicating the original.

In conclusion, the ethics of paying homage in art is a complex issue that requires careful consideration and attention to detail. While homage can be seen as a way for artists to acknowledge the influence of their peers and predecessors, it can also be seen as a form of exploitation if not done ethically. To ensure that homage is done ethically, artists should give proper credit to the original artist, ensure that the homage is done respectfully, and use the original work as a starting point for their work rather than simply copying or replicating it.


The relation between time and place across the original work and my homage is interesting. Van Gogh painted in 1889; I painted a much older Celtic Cross using much more modern materials than he had access to. For example, I used digital art and acrylic to get that thicker paint style, whereas he had oils and a sketchbook. An interesting mix of time periods results in an old monument painted in a late nineteenth-century style using 2020s materials.

Van Gogh’s unique style seems to cross generations and is more popular now than when he originally painted; his bold, unconventional style was not widely appreciated by the public or the art establishment of his time. However, van Gogh’s reputation as an artist grew after his death, and his work gained recognition and popularity. This was mainly due to the efforts of his brother, Theo, a patron of the arts who helped promote van Gogh’s work after his death. In the following decades, van Gogh’s popularity grew, and his paintings became highly sought after by collectors and museums worldwide. Today, van Gogh is widely recognised as one of the most important and influential artists of the 19th century, and his work is considered among the greatest masterpieces of Western art. In recent years, van Gogh’s popularity has only grown, with exhibitions of his work drawing large crowds and attracting widespread media attention. This is due in part to the public’s fascination with van Gogh’s life and work, as well as the timeless appeal of his bold, vibrant style and the emotional power of his paintings.

When I started this exercise, I was unsure where to begin. It took me a while experimenting digitally to develop a solid idea, as I was initially going to do something more paying homage to the Celts. In a way, I still did, but it went down this van Gogh route that I didn’t expect. I am not sure it was the best route for me. I found the painting style challenging to emulate, but this gave me more respect for it.

I feel it is instantly van Gogh’s style, which makes me concerned ethically and creatively. I have tried to copy his style more than pay proper homage to it. It is not my one personal style, which I feel even an image should still reflect.

There are elements I like about my painting, but again, I feel like I am judging them compared to van Gogh. For instance, I appreciate my choice of bright primary colours, thick brush strokes, and movement contrasting with the solid cross. But I feel these are because I have tried to incorporate his elements into my work.

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