Painting Van Gogh into Film


“Self-Portrait” September 1889. Oil on canvas.

Photo URL

     There is a new absolutely brilliant project happening out in Gdansk, Poland.  Ambitious animation filmmakers and oil painters are creating a feature film in which every single frame is an oil painting.  Yeah, you read that correctly: every frame is a painting.  Just take a second to appreciate how much patience that’s going to take.  So many of us get frustrated just when we try to open packages (which, btw, is apparently called ‘Wrap Rage’):


And yet this project, written by Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman, and Jacek von Dehnel, has over 100 trained painters already working on it.  To have decent animation quality, the film has 12-oil-paintings per-second, which if you calculate their stated 80 minutes projected run time X 60 seconds per minute X 12 paintings per second, that equals a grand total of 57,600 paintings, although their official website cites a number under 57,000.  Keep in mind that Van Gogh created about 900 paintings and only sold in his entire lifetime.

The film is being created by Breakthru Films and Trademark Films, and the plot is based off the many letters Van Gogh penned during his lifetime as well as his paintings and the events leading up to his death.

This is an excellent time to make a film focusing on Vincent Van Gogh, considering the recent attention his artwork has been receiving from the physics community.  There is a studied connection between Vincent’s artwork and the natural phenomena of turbulence, which can be seen in the motion of fluids.  The scientists found a mathematical precision to Van Gogh’s artwork, especially as it connects to turbulence and the artist’s use of luminance [relative brightness between points].  Read more about that in an article by Marcelo Gleiser for NPR.


“Starry Night” June 1889.  Found here

Given the kind of talent and artistic patience that’s going into this film, it promises to be an aesthetic feast.  If the film’s plot will live up to its visual beauty is still left to be seen.  There is a lot of emphasis in the marketing of this film on the fact that it’s all oil paintings, but not much word on who’re playing what characters or how closely the plot will follow the letters.  Hopefully the plot will be as mind-blowing as the paintings, and I’m looking forward to the film’s release.


You’re an awesome oil painter and want to sign up?  Check out the recruitment steps here.


Need to know more about Van Gogh?  Follow the Turbulence:


The Van Gogh Gallery. 15 January 2013. Templeton Reid, LLC. 25 March 2016 <>.

Van Gogh Documentary To Be First Completely Painted Feature Film Ever” by Dainius

Loving Vincent: The world’s first fully painted animated film” by Aditya Iyer for Hindustan Times

The unexpected math behind Van Gogh’s “Starry Night“–Natalya St. Clair” from the channel TED-Ed

And, of course, the Official Website