January 2, 2016 Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Kent among the trash in the streets after New Year's Celebrations

Kent among the trash in the streets after New Year’s Celebrations

Ice Skating Rink in the heart of Amsterdam

Ice Skating Rink in the heart of Amsterdam

On this day we took the local tram to the Van Gogh Museum to take in the works of Vincent Van Gogh. The museum was extremely crowded and so we had to wait outside in the drizzle and wind for nearly one hour before making our way inside. The young Italian couple behind us had been to the smoke shops the night before so didn’t seem to mind the wait.

Vincent Van Gogh was born in 1853 in Zundert, Netherlands, to upper middle class parents, the son of a preacher. He did not begin painting until he was 27 years old and died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound at the early age of 37. During this short ten-year period Vincent produced more than 2,100 artworks, including 860 oil paintings, 1,300 watercolors, drawings, sketches and prints. This museum has the largest collection of Van Gogh works of art with 210 paintings and 527 drawings.

Vincent was a troubled man with mental illness and found that painting was helpful in calming his mind. He spent much of his time painting in Paris, northern and southern France. He felt more at home in quiet out of the way places than in the big city. He spent considerable time studying books, drawing extensively, practicing color techniques and fine-tuning his craft.

Vincent painted peasants in the countryside and meticulous landscapes before exploring the style that is more impressionistic. He began to use small brush strokes, often in circular motion or dots to create a painting. Some of his paintings are quite dark with a haunting feeling to them while others are of flowers that are bright and festive. At auctions, Van Gogh’s paintings have fetched some of the highest prices ever paid for art.

We spent about three hours in the museum before winding our way back to the hotel and stopping for a bite to eat at an Italian restaurant called the Ponte Vecchio. Along the way we stopped at an ice skating rink to watch the kids skating and to purchase a deep fried donut-like pastry ball sprinkled with powdered sugar. We returned to our hotel by 7:30pm and were happy to be out of the cold.