Aja Trier, it’s the artist that has brought a new version of Van Gogh’s Starry Night featuring dogs in it. The story about how it all started it’s quite comic, which she shared with Earthwonders.
“I’ve been painting since I was little and from as early on as 3rd grade I spent lunch hour in the art room. I even had my own corner of the high school art room, and several of the works that I painted in the school including a large window in the main office still reside there. I attended Montserrat College of Art in Beverly MA on scholarship in 2001, started Sagittarius Gallery in 2003, and started selling my art online. Since then I have been blessed with tens of thousands of patrons all over the world,” said the artist.
Scroll down below to learn more about the story behind her paintings, what should be considered as the modern van Gogh.
Recreating starry night and adding dogs to it, it all started with a love for texture. Aja started painting with a spatula she stole from the kitchen when she was 18. Then in art school, she started honing her skills while using a palette knife. ” I love the thickness of the paint and the immediacy of it all. Brushes can be prohibitive to me. A knife lends itself to impressionism though, as it’s pretty difficult to be realistic with only a knife. In recent years I started using brushes, especially when I started the van Gogh style works because they were necessary to emulate his style.”
The story of how Aja got into painting like Van Gogh is quite funny actually. Being frustrated that a lot of people were mistaking her work with the impressionist artist, the artist was pushed to create something that surpasses Van Gogh’s era.
” I have always painted in an impressionist manner but did not think my work looked particularly like van Gogh’s. Selling your work online, people tend to share and abbreviate what they are sharing for their audience. I had painted an Eiffel Tower piece I called “Seine” in 2011 that people started sharing on Pinterest with the caption “‘Eiffel Tower by Van Gogh’ and it spread like wildfire. I tried correcting people, but when things are disseminated to such an extent, you can’t catch them all. It’s almost impossible,” shared Aja for Earthwonders.
As the artist was scrolling through an French educational blog that had an article on Vincent van Gogh that was advertising a trip around Paris to see some van Gogh works and locations, and there she saw her painting. ” It was mind boggling. Especially since it’s impossible for van Gogh to have painted a finished Eiffel tower. He had moved to the south of France on February 20, 1888, well before the tower was completed. He never returned to Paris. The Tower wasn’t completed until March 1, 1889. I’d told people this previously when they would insist van Gogh painted my painting – but when I saw this French educational site touting my painting as a van Gogh, it prompted me to start my “van Gogh Never” series of pieces, showcasing things van Gogh never saw. It was a game.”
A simple dare. She just wanted to see what people would actually believe van Gogh painted and re-share it as such. Aja explains that she never pretended to be van Gogh, and still doesn’t think that her work looks like van Gogh. The whole thing exploded out of what really was a joke. The artist had to go through a lot of arguments and debate to convince people that she’s the one making those paintings, where a lot of people had responded – “Oh, so I guess you’re van Gogh, huh?” Since then Aja has painted everything from the Great Wall of China to the Last Unicorn and other pop culture icons.
“I began the dog and cat paintings after that. I had painted a Pomeranian sleeping under a Starry Night for my solo show at Future Gallery in Lake Orion MI in 2018. I shared it on my Instagram and people started asking me to paint different breeds, or painting their pet in particular. I figured if I was going to paint one, I might as well try and paint as many breeds as I could. At this point I have painted about 160 or so over a span of just a few short years. I have admittedly slowed down in the past few months. It’s easy to get burned out!”
Moreover, the artist also shared her working process with us. It all starts with finding a reference to work from and then sketching it out on black canvas in white gel pen.” I prefer black canvas because it creates a visual buzz when paired with thick oil paint saturated in color. I paint the subject first, then the sky, then the foreground. The subject usually requires a delicate hand and small brushes (most of the pieces I paint are 12×12 or smaller) so I need to paint that first to then move on to the gestural work in the background and foreground. I use a palette knife predominantly for that to create texture and movement. Once I’ve completed the background and foreground, I add swipes of color with the palette knife to the subject to bring harmony to the piece so that there isn’t a disconnect between the subject and the rest of the piece because they are completed separately. Adding flourishes in the end brings the piece together. They take about 2 weeks or so to dry because the paint is undiluted and thick, and then once dry I get them photographed professionally for prints and documentation and then the painting is off to its new home.”
“My work is ever evolving – I have been recently working on animating my paintings and converting my work to NFTs. My most recent painting though was a lion on a Starry Night that I am getting photographed this week. I should state I am not currently taking on any custom work, but welcome people to suggest breeds or visit sagittariusgallery.com or sagittariusgallery.etsy.com to see my offerings which include prints and print products, as I have painted over 160 dogs and cats at this point so there is a lot to choose from! I even have a bunch of originals available at my Etsy link as well. ”
Earthwonders was granted permission by Aja Trier to use these images.