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In this series, local photographer and Phipps volunteer Paul g. Wiegman highlights the essence of the plants that Vincent van Gogh was inspired to paint.

On display in our Welcome Center to coincide with the Van Gogh in Bloom exhibit is a series of photos by Paul g. Wiegman that help show nature's inspiration on the work of one of history's most celebrated painters. Wiegman has isolated each plant from its environment, its community and ecosystem, and visually captured it as simply as possible. Working in the field and avoiding any disturbance to the plants is critical to his work. Paul uses a process of lighting an individual plant and placing a portable white background to provide a clean backdrop for the plant of interest. He looks for plants along the edges of existing walking/hiking trails so he can get the camera as close to the ground as possible and be at the level of the subject.

Van Gogh was profoundly impacted by the natural beauty of plants and landscapes that surrounded him. He regularly wrote to his family and friends about the seasons and the color combinations of plantlife that inspired him. In an excerpt from a letter to his brother, he wrote:

It is very beautiful here (though it is in the city). In every garden the lilacs and hawthorn and laburnums are in bloom and the chestnut trees are beautiful. If one really loves nature, one can find beauty everywhere. But still I sometimes long for Holland and especially for home. I am very busy gardening and have sown a little garden full of poppies, sweet peas and mignonette…”

About the Artist

As a naturalist and former vice president of science and stewardship for the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, Paul g. Wiegman has spent his career exploring, learning and educating others about the marvelous natural history of western Pennsylvania. Using photography to share the region’s rich geology, botany and zoology, he hopes to inspire viewers to explore nature for themselves, experience its genius, and share his desire to protect and preserve it.

Photos © Paul g. Wiegman

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