Amsterdam: Van Gogh Museum

The one souvenir I’d wanted to bring home from Amsterdam was a copy of Barbara Stok’s graphic novel Vincent in English, from the Van Gogh Museum bookshop. When I got there the Friday night I arrived, though, it was completely sold out—and the soonest it’d be back in stock was the day after I left! Blarg. Only after I returned to the States did I realize it was still available at the American Book Center on Spui, which I’d chanced by earlier the same afternoon that I visited the museum but hadn’t thought to check before I departed the city six days later.

barbara stok graphic novel vincent

The book appeals to my nascent love of graphic novels
as well as my longstanding love of introspection.

So that evening at the museum, I consoled myself with buying greeting cards taken from panels in the book, to send to friends as airmail souvenirs. (Don’t you love the idea of carefully sticking a foreign stamp on a letter, popping it into a mailbox, and imagining its journey in planes through the air and in trucks over roads to its destination back home? Way more tactile than texting photos, as immediate as that is.)

van gogh bedroom barbara stok graphic novel

Van Gogh’s bedroom, as interpreted by Barbara Stok.

van gogh bedroom

In the meantime, I felt chills being in the same room as paintings like this! The Bedroom (1888) by Van Gogh was supposed to have inspired Egon Schiele’s similar painting The Artist’s Room in Neulengbach (1911) too, though I hadn’t covered the latter in my master’s thesis.

I arrived on a Friday, which meant the museum was open until 10 p.m. So I decided to make the artist’s acquaintance (at this point I was still running on an espresso doppio to power through the jet lag).

van gogh self portrait as painter

Vincent Van Gogh, Self-Portrait as a Painter, 1888

Visitors were fairly free to get up close and pore over the paintings as they liked, along with snapping photographs on their smartphones—particularly of the well-known works. Isn’t it incredible to peer at the very daubs of paint that Van Gogh himself had applied to the canvas? Stroke by stroke, until the now-familiar image emerged.

van gogh irises

Vincent Van Gogh, Irises (detail), 1890

van gogh wheatfield with crows

Vincent Van Gogh, Wheatfield with Crows (detail), 1890

To see how Van Gogh applied color theory was pretty fascinating. That is, when placed side by side in a painting, colors opposite each other on the color wheel—red opposite green, yellow opposite purple, and blue opposite orange—heighten an image’s overall intensity.

van gogh color theory boats

Vincent Van Gogh, Fishing Boats on the Beach
at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer (detail), 1888

van gogh garden saint paul's hospital

Vincent Van Gogh, The Garden of Saint Paul’s Hospital
(‘The Fall of the Leaves’)
, 1889. I love how the saturated blue of the wall
picks up the blues off center in the painting.

(Barbara Stok’s Vincent panels via the Van Gogh Museum’s Google+ and Pinterest)

“Soppy” by Philippa Rice

This panel from Philippa Rice’s mini comic Soppy was recently posted on Susan Cain’s “QUIET: The Power of Introverts” communal Pinterest board. “Introvert bonding time!” the poster said. It’s sweet. Even “dangerously sweet,” as the website It’s Nice That put it. (“It will get you. You will be won over by the charm, the illustrations, the painfully lovely relationship that plays out in front of you where boyfriends kiss girlfriends’ heads, order them pizzas, make them cups of tea, fall asleep on top of them on the sofa, and yet still refuse to bake them biscuits.”)

soppy philippa rice introvert

Being alone, together. 

The original 16-page Soppy is currently sold out but should be available again soon in Rice’s online shop, alongside prints of certain Soppy panels (though not the one above). The likewise 16-page mini comic Soppy 2 is still in stock and going for £4.

“Food Life” comic by Luchie

Lucie Bryon (known to the world at large as comics artist Luchie, currently based—as far as I can tell—in Brussels, Belgium) recently came out with a food-related comic for the young-adult literature magazine Cicada. Because I would love to live at the intersection of food and art, this of course tickles me.

Looked casually for more of her work in the comics shops I popped into while I was in Brussels (self-proclaimed comics capital of the world) less than two weeks ago, but couldn’t seem to find anything more … I hope that for her this is just the beginning. :)

Happy summer solstice!

In the Northern Hemisphere, sunlight lingers the longest today, enveloping you in a balm that’s deliciously warm. (In my mind at least.) How would you like to wade through the eddies of a lazy river?

I’ve always loved the way the water swirls and flows in O’Keeffe’s Chama River image, contrasted with the shades of red rock surrounding Abiquiu.

Chama River, Ghost Ranch, 1937 by O'KeeffeGeorgia O’Keeffe, Chama River, Ghost Ranch, 1937.

Chama River via TripadvisorThe inspiration, or a literal rendering.

(bottom photo via TripAdvisor user Chante_m, June 2009)

Omelette (and) the dog

I know this short film by CalArts’ Madeline Sharafian has been making its rounds on the blogosphere, but it’s such a sweet piece. Even the bossa nova accompaniment (“Águas de Março” by Elis Regina) is soothing—the kind of music you’d switch on after coming home at the end of a long day. The animation is like Totoro meets Ratatouille, all wrapped up in love.

In Sharafian’s words,

I wanted to make something that focuses on how meaningful it is to make food for someone you love. My family’s lives practically revolve around cooking for each other, so it’s a theme that I’m deeply attached to.

I enjoy museums as places to read, absorb, and pique my curiosity as well as stoke my love of learning. (They appeal to the introvert in me.) My favorite Bay Area museum may actually be the San Jose Museum of Art … it’s small, but well curated, fun, informative, and down-to-earth in its presentation. Plus its exhibitions program draws big names (Calder, Mapplethorpe, and now Leibovitz coming up).


Far from the stuffy, sterile elitism that the word “museum” traditionally evokes, San Francisco is home to some of the most vibrant, interactive and – dare we say? – fun museums around. For decades, SF’s museums have focused on accessible engagement with art, science, discovery and history. The recent closing of the Museum of Craft and Folk Art inspired us here at Flavorpill SF to look hard at the treasure trove of cultural life our museums offer every day. As with all accessible art and culture, museum exhibits and programming are possible only through patronage. Of course, we encourage you (and remind ourselves) to integrate a habit of visiting our local museums regularly, just to surround yourself with art or to sit and breathe – but sometimes it’s helpful to have a particular reason to go, too.

So here are seven reasons to visit our museums and pay a little…

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First thought: Wasn’t Rembrandt’s Storm on the Sea of Galilee one of the paintings stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in a theft attributed to Myles J. Connor Jr.? (I read The Art of the Heist not too long ago, and remember it being described as one of the few landscape-type paintings that Rembrandt did.)
My second thought, though, is that I actually love to step inside art museums for the same reason I like to go hiking on my own or browse in a bookstore or library with no other particular where to be. It lets me learn, takes me to a world outside of my own, and gives me space to ponder (which, with me being an introvert, are all things I love). In fact, I myself am looking forward to checking out the Rembrandt’s Century exhibition at the de Young Museum in San Francisco…after the crowds there for Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring subside somewhat.

Ordinary Time

Two weekends ago, two of my girlfriends and I visited the newest exhibit at the Frist Center for Visual Arts: Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age.  It was interesting to see the influence of Protestantism on art after the Netherlands broke from Catholic Spain, and while still life isn’t my favorite, there were lots of other pieces I really enjoyed.

The first pieces were Rembrandts, and they were my favorite.  I especially liked his Visitation, which I had never seen before.


It also included one of his portraits of Christ (of which there are many).  Not his most famous one, but a very nice one.


Two of my favorite Rembrandts that weren’t in the exhibit were his Storm on the Lake of Galilee and his Return of the Prodigal Son.

The way the Frist is laid out, it’s easy to find yourself in a completely different exhibit while in the…

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