Loving Vincent is the world’s first fully painted feature film which brings the paintings and subjects of Vincent van Gogh to life to tell his remarkable story. It follows the last few days of the Dutch Master’s passionate and ill-fated life to his mysterious death in July 1890.

Every one of the 65,000 frames of the film is an oil-painting, hand-painted by professional artists who travelled from all over the world to the Loving Vincent studios in Poland and Greece to be a part of the production.

In her normal life Sarah Wimperis is a contemporary impressionist painter and illustrator, based on Cornwall’s Helford River and one of the leading artists with the Beside the Wave galleries.

As part of the select Loving Vincent artistic team she spent five months working twelve hour days in the Gdansk studios – using the colours and techniques Van Gogh himself would have used. As in the nature of animation, the 350 oil paintings she created make up about 30 seconds of the final film.

“Such an intense experience is bound to affect your work,” says Sarah, “and I think we all felt Vincent was inside our heads. Certainly I’m finding it very easy to devote long hours to painting and I know my brushwork and colour skills improved. I also believe that his dogged pursuit of his own artistic voice, in the face of all opposition, has helped me to believe in myself as an artist.”

If the Loving Vincent film-making process was all indoor and cool, then Sarah’s latest paintings embrace the open air, light and heat of rural France which inspired much of Van Gogh’s own work and where Sarah herself lived and painted for many years.

“I am not interested in the classic tourist spots so much as in the mundane, everyday and small things that make a sense of a place,” she says. “To paint in extreme heat is challenging and exciting, the air seems to have a different colour. I also find the constant barrage of new sights and smells very inspiring. 

“During this trip I spent 10 days house-sitting in a very isolated area east of the Dordogne – a place filled with brocante, antique French furniture, cupboards full of French linens, glassware and crockery.  This treasure trove combined with a lifestyle of living and eating outdoors in a gloriously overgrown garden provided me with much subject matter as well as the time and solitude to paint to my heart’s content.”

Sarah appeared on BBC Breakfast along with Loving Vincent’s writer and director Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman on Thursday September 28, ahead of the premiere on Monday 9 October, when the film was broadcast live from the National Gallery to cinemas across the UK. Now she and the gallery team at Beside the Wave are straight into the launch of her own exhibition to run consecutively in Primrose Hill and in Falmouth from Thursday 12 October.

“Sarah has been reassembling her private relationship with France after channelling Vincent van Gogh for so long,” says Beside the Wave Director Ingrid Heseltine. “She’s spent the summer seeing afresh the landscapes that are familiar to her, but through the expressive ‘lens’ of Van Gogh’s paintings –  the way in which he represented the characters and the landscape around him.

The work she has produced is, in our view, some of her best yet.”

The 94 minute feature film of Loving Vincent was first shot against a green screen background as a live action film with actors whose famous faces match the famous paintings they portray, among them Poldark’s Eleanor Tomlinson and Aiden Turner and Hollywood stars Saoirse Ronan and Chris O’Dowd.  The film was then hand-painted over frame-by-frame in oils and the final effect is an interaction of the performance of the actors playing Vincent’s famous portraits, and the performance of the painting animators, bringing these characters into the medium of paint.

© 2017 Joanna Reeves, all rights reserved.

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