I really like Van Gogh’s ink drawing of Garden of the hospital in Arles (1888).
To spend a little time appreciating this work, I copied some of his marks. It is all lines, dots, curves. And with that, he has created a wonderfully rich shorthand depiction of this garden. The overall scene is serene and yet his marks are very energetic.
The drawing is 45.5 x 59 cm. To me, that is alot of marks to be making. For me, on a much smaller 14 x 20 cm page, it felt an an effort to draw in this way – having to create varied shapes, negative-positive shapes, dark to light, detailed shapes versus overall shape. In his work though, I get the sense, these marks just ‘flowed’ from his pen. Maybe, maybe not. I don’t know.
I then happened upon his painting version of the drawing and was very surprised to find that his brush strokes are the same or similar to his drawn marks. I have not compared his drawings with his paintings before and never noticed.
And then, I came across a blog post, Making a mark: Van Gogh: Drawing media and techniques which explained my surprise. Don’t you love discovery learning? I do.
And so it is…to learn from walking in the footsteps of someone with a gift that continues to amaze. Thank you.
This morning I sat with Van Gogh on my balcony. Just a little while. I have to say, he’s most intense. I did not feel I could interrupt him with lots of questions. Instead, I looked over to see what he was doing. I don’t think he minded.
When he starts an ink drawing, he just keeps going and at a fast pace. His drawings have strong focal points and somehow uses light to guide our attention. His visual language is distinctive and so creative. He uses a wide range of marks to form shapes and to depict texture and tone.
Making stuff up again? Well, it’s the only way I’m going to be able to have a chat with Van Gogh, aren’t I?