When writers turn to the canvas

Aurelio Peña, a veteran journalist from Davao City, has taken to painting, apparently a first love judging by his fine strokes executed in a private workshop. Peña paints the Masters such as Renoir ("Dance at Bougival,” whose replica has been shipped to San Fransisco), Monet ("Woman with Parasol,” also duly delivered to an art patron abroad), Picasso, Degas and Da Vinci, all done in acrylic on canvas. But the writer-turned-artist seems to have a soft spot for Vincent Van Gogh, the Dutch post-impressionist immortalized by every cultural era after his suicide in 1890.

Scribbles Peña in his Facebook posts:

Nov. 22/ I got into a heated argument with someone from the Van Gogh museum over Vincent's brush strokes, saying that he was going crazy because of drinking Absinthe and that he was always running out of paints and oil to mix, a reason why he uses line dashes of paint done in impasto, not because he was influenced by the Impressionist Movement sweeping across Europe in the 1880’s, which, by the way, reflected on his painting "Starry Night" from his locked room inside a mental hospital in France.

Dec 6/ It’s still a struggle, trying to capture the essence and spirit of Vincent Van Gogh in his "Portrait of Dr Gachet" here at my little art studio Le Gallerie at Lanang, Davao, Philippines, using acrylic instead of oil colors (that’s where the difficulty lies), all the rough impasto brush strokes that you don't see in old 15th Century masterpieces like Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" which I'm also struggling to finish, especially the purple garment and the unusual background. 

Vincent made about a dozen "Gachet" portraits, not pleased with the outcome. It was the same with Da Vinci who took four years to finish "Mona" and never delivered the painting to the merchant's wife Gioconda who commissioned him to do her portrait inside his dark studio lighted only by lamps. Vincent, on the other hand, kept drinking Absinthe, a toxic alcoholic drink, even while trying out several Gachet versions which never gave him satisfaction—until he shot himself to death.