Negative space is subtly used to calm the painting. The emptiness of the sky allows the observer’s eye to connect the “dots”, which are the stars. Meanwhile, the empty space of the mountains and Cyprus trees quiets the stars and moon, allowing the town to emerge as positive space. These negative spaces also allow the observer to catch their breath, and experience sublime serenity as van Gogh intended.
Van Gogh demonstrates classical color theory with his touches of orange and red balancing the dominant greens and blues. He avoids a monochromatic painting with the yellow and orange stars and moon. The bright orange on the right side of the painting contrasts with the dark green of the trees of the left side.
The bright stars parallel the darker hues of the trees. Within the town, bright pinpricks of green, red, yellow, and orange shine through the thick black strokes. The pure colors of blues, greens, and yellows are offset by the black or white brush strokes next to them. These strokes dampen the intensity of the colors. The gradual deepening of the greens and blues settles the intensity of the yellows and oranges.
The thick brush strokes give movement to the wind in the sky. Also, this texture gives the illusion of the Cyprus trees waving in the night. Meanwhile, the rays of the stars and moon extend out in three dimensions. Since the texture gives depth to the scene, it allows the observer to enter and experience the painting.
“The Starry Night” offers you an experience of the transcendence of nature. The crescent moon invites you to sit on it and let the wind blow through you. When the brilliance of the sky becomes too much, you can nestle quietly in the trees. Go beyond interacting with nature to become one with nature herself. Enter the quiet town and reach up to the moon. Explore the sacred magic of nature through van Gogh’s “The Starry Night”.
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