Under The Influence Of Happiness

Whilst holidaying in Melbourne this Christmas, a friend recommended I visit the incredible Vincent Van Gogh exhibition at the Lume – and I am so glad she did. I mean, why tiptoe through a silent gallery to view masterpieces from afar when you can be immersed in the world of this incredible artist on a grand scale?

The vivid colours and intricate details of Van Gogh’s world-renowned artworks came to life on 11 metre high panelled walls, on the ceiling and even danced around us on the floor while a symphony of classical music and intricate sounds created an awe-inspiring multi-sensory experience.

I visited the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam many years ago, however this was next-level and provided a real insight into not only the amazing work produced by this troubled man, but also his passion and genius for colour and nature which really resonated with me.

Vincent Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” is one of the artist’s most recognised paintings and was the piece he was said to be most proud of. In February 1888, the lonely and passionate Van Gogh had moved to the warm weather and bright colours of Arles in the south of France where he dreamed of setting up a community of artists with his friend the artist, Paul Gauguin, as its mentor. “Sunflowers” was painted during this rare period of excited optimism, while he awaited the arrival of Gauguin. The work is full of light, energy and an array of bright yellow hues.


The sunflower held special significance for Van Gogh, as yellow was his favourite colour, and was depicted in much of his art.  Yellow, for him, was an emblem of happiness and in Dutch literature, the sunflower was a symbol of devotion and loyalty, often synonymous with happiness and light.  It’s also been said that at times during Van Gogh’s fits of severe depression he used to eat yellow paint, because he thought it would get the happiness inside him.

Yellow is highly recognised as the happiest colour in the world for two main reasons. 

Many studies have linked the psychological powers of yellow to the sun. Sunlight helps to lift our mood and improve our outlook on life as well as being the source of life on earth. This connection suggests that the brain is programmed to associate yellow with these positive effects of sunlight and stimulate the nervous system. 

The second reason researchers believe yellow has mood lifting effects is the ability of yellow to stand out from other colours in the spectrum. Studies have suggested that the ability of yellow to stand out from other colours helps to associate yellow with positive memories.

“How lovely yellow is. It stands for the sun.” – Vincent Van Gogh