Big Easel - Blooming Brightly in Western Kansas

In the spring of 2001, the "World's Largest Painting on an Easel" was erected in Pioneer Park, in Goodland, Kansas. The 24 x 32 foot painting is a reproduction of Vincent Van Gogh’s Three Sunflowers in a Vase, the first version in a series of seven sunflower paintings painted in Arles, France, between 1888-1889.

History of the Van Gogh Project

The project began in 1996 when Cameron Cross decided to contribute a work of art to Altoona, Canada, where he was teaching. Cross decided an enlarged hand-painted reproduction of one of Vincent Van Gogh's sunflower paintings resting on an enormous easel would make an appropriate landmark for the city. Cross decided to expand the project to seven easels, with the intent to reproduce all seven of Van Gogh's sunflower paintings on giant easels in seven different countries spanning the globe. 

“Taking a traditional representation of visual art - the painting on an easel - and enlarging it to enormous proportions, changes the viewer’s perception of this image. The easel is now a landmark; it is now a contemporary work of public sculpture”
– Cameron Cross

The Goodland easel is the third painting erected in the Van Gogh Project.  Goodland was chosen as a site due to its close connection to sunflower agriculture. The seven sites selected range from rural to urban with populations from several thousand to several million. While only three are erected so far, Cross is currently continuing work on this project and his goal of seven easels.

In the summer of 2012, Cross returned to repaint and repair the Big Easel. Over the span of a month, Cross painstakingly repaired the damage NW Kansas weather and climate had inflicted on the Big Easel over the years since its installation. The result of Cross’s work is a stark contrast with a brighter, bolder rendition of Van Gogh’s original work. 

The Artists

Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) was a Dutch painter known for his highly emotional and dramatic paintings. He was one of the first artists to use color and brushstrokes to express emotion. This style was eventually referred to as Expressionism in the 20th century. His paintings are some of the most recognizable in the world.

Cameron Cross is a Canadian painter with degrees in Fine Arts and Education from the University of Manitoba. Cameron has worked as an artist for over fifteen years, and operates out of a studio in Winnipeg. Cross is currently continuing the Van Gogh project. learn more about Cameron Cross at www.BigEasel.com and follow him on Twitter @thebigeasel

About the Materials

The steel easel is 80 feet tall, with a design wind load of 38 pounds per square foot. It weighs 40,000 pounds, with 24 three-foot long anchor support bolts and 30 feet deep cement pilings.

The 24 foot by 32 foot canvas consists of 24 sheets of standard four by eight foot plywood sheets with two layers of one ounce matte fiberglass covered in a layer of industrial gel coat. It is attached to the steel frame with over 500 high-performance self-tapping (wood to steel) fastener screws.

The paint is industrial acrylic urethane enamel, which is normally used on ships, fertilizer equipment, and machinery that are exposed to extreme heat, acid or chemicals. It was chosen for its long lasting qualities and ultraviolet protection. Approximately 10 coats, or layers, were used to finish the work of art. Each painting takes approximately two months to complete using 10 to 12-hour days.