“Starry Night Painting” by Vincent Van Gogh

The Starry Night is probably one of the most famous paintings by Vincent van Gogh. The artwork was produced by Vincent Van Gogh using the oil-on-canvas technique. Today, Starry Night is everywhere, and the artwork can be seen on magnets, towels, t-shirts, and coffee mugs, among other things. The art focuses on memories rather than an outdoor environment, which is one of the reasons why Starry Night has commanded such a strong emotional response as compared to other paintings by the same artist. The artwork was created in 1889 and depicts the east-facing window of Vincent’s sanctuary room in Saint-Remy-de-Provence (Richardson et al. 389). It has been in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City since 1941.

Description of the Artistic Impression

The drawing depicts a pre-sunrise period of the day. The embellishments deciphered throughout the artwork reflect on how beauty is timeless and universal. The paintwork has been subjugated by a moon image and star-filled night sky which all cover up to seventy-five percent of the entire picture frame. An overview of the picture depicts turbulence comprising of forceful whirling patterns that appear at the surface of the drawing in the form of waves. The artistic impression is pocked using bright planets including the crescent moon on the far right-hand side while the morning star and Venus appear to the left moving gradually to the center of the frame. These images are then enclosed using concentric circles that illuminate yellow and bright white lights.

Underneath the sky, there is a village with traditional houses that surround a church that gently appears above blue-black mountains that are visible from the background. However, what mesmerizes is that the community represents the author’s native home in Netherlands or France. There is also a cypress tree appearing at the foreground, and these cypresses almost touch the top of the picture frame. It can be said that the cypress tree is symbolic because it interlinks the land and the sky (Olson 39). Besides, the cypress is also the most eye catching item due to its massive size and black color that contrasts with the brightly illuminated stars at the mid-ground. The cypress is a type of vegetation mostly associated with the dark, death, and cemeteries. It can, therefore, be said that this particular expression is connected with the artist quotes, “viewing the stars always makes me dream if the shiny stars in the sky are as accessible as the dots represented on France’s maps. Just as people board a train to reach their destination, we also take death to arrive at the star.”

How the Painting Reflects with Real-Life Scenario

The painting reflects the author’s direct observation of real-life perception as well as personal imaginations and emotions. For instance, the pictures of the steeple of the church portray personal experience back from his countryside, Netherlands, but not France. There is also the whirling in the sky that reflects on astronomical observations of dust and gas movements of outer space. The manner in which van Gogh has depicted the cypress tree and steeple through several brush strokes smeared using a thick paint describes visual contrasts from an artist inclined towards the interest of the night, and the artist has persistently utilized illustrations to show that his night times were alive and colorful compared to his daytimes.

Color Effects in Starry Night

The color selection in the artwork has been dominated by a combination of white and yellow whereby it is widely believed that Van Gogh choice of yellow was influenced by the suffering he experienced from a certain complication. Fusing white and yellow color in the picture has resulted in a spiraling effect that automatically drives viewers’ attention to the sky. At the background, there is also a selection of dark blues and greens that have been complemented by light green to illustrate on reflections coming directly from the moon.

Lighting Effects in Starry Night

The artist’s affection with night time is evident from the drawing, and it is seen how the authoritative sky directly overlooks a peaceful town which is also symbolic in the sense that optimism comes from the top, not down from the town. Besides, light also symbolizes hope because even during the night it is possible to see the light through the windows of the house, and the shining stars also depict a scenario of guidance, and since the artist was getting cured of his illness, through the light from the window he had eventually found a route to heaven.

Despite the fact that the hospital staff was unable to allow the artist do the painting inside his bedroom, Van Gogh often embarked on his routine by making sketches through charcoal or ink on paper, later on developing newer variations of the artwork from previous concepts. Inside the picture, one of the fundamental uniting objects seems to be the diagonal line that comes from the right side illustrating small rolling hills of the Alpilles Mountains.


One of the reasons why the painting popularity has surged is the strong feelings conveyed by the artists through the illuminating stars that shine over a dark landscape during the night. Throughout the painting, the artist has illustrated his view of different periods of the day, and also under different weather conditions, including rain, wind, overcast, sunshine, moonrise, and sunrise.

Works Cited

Olson, Donald W. “Vincent van Gogh and Starry Skies Over France.” In Celestial Sleuth, pp. 35-66. Springer New York, 2014.

Richardson, Bradford A., Alexandra M. Rusyniak, W. George Rusyniak Jr, and Charles B. Rodning. “Neuroanatomical Interpretation of the Painting Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh.” Neurosurgery 81, no. 3 (2017): 389.

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