Monday Motivator: Van Gogh Didn’t Start Drawing in “Van Gogh Style”

“But Theo, you can be certain that when I first went to Mauve with my pen drawings and M. said, you should try it with charcoal and chalk and brush and stump, it was damned difficult for me to work with that new material.

“I was patient and it didn’t seem to help at all, and sometimes I grew so impatient that I trampled on my charcoal and was wholly and utterly discouraged. … but all the same I had taken a step forward.

“Now I’m going through a similar period of struggle and despondency, of patience and impatience, of hope and desolation. But I must plod on and anyway, after a while I’ll understand more about making watercolours.

“If it were that easy, one wouldn’t take any pleasure in it.”

Vincent van Gogh, letter to his brother Theo from The Hague, January 1882

If Vincent van Gogh had continued to draw as in the drawing below his whole career, would we even know who he was now?

Vincent van Gogh “Bridge and Houses on the Corner of Herengracht-Prinsessegracht, The Hague”, 1882. Pencil, pen and brush and ink, watercolour, on paper, 24x34cm. Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

He did it in 1882 at the request of his uncle Cor. “It was his first paid commission after becoming an artist less than two years earlier. … Van Gogh had a hard time drawing the bridge in accurate perspective. So he changed its shape slightly.” (Quote source: Van Gogh Museum)

There’s nothing wrong with drawing above, but it could’ve been done by any of a number of artists. The drawing below is more like a “Van Gogh”, full of expressive, energetic mark making in a recognisable handwriting.

Van Gogh Old Vineyard with Peasant Woman painting
Vincent van Gogh “Old Vineyard with Peasant Woman” 1890. Pencil, brush and oil paint and watercolour, on paper, 44x54cm. Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)

One Reply to “Monday Motivator: Van Gogh Didn’t Start Drawing in “Van Gogh Style””

  1. WOW! yes, if van Gogh had continued with the Bridge drawings, we would never know of his paintings, they would be too ordinary… Amazing to think about… Don’t you wish that the long dead artists could somehow sneak a peek into the future? into today’s times?

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