More Notes on Van Gogh

Van Gogh: Master Draughtsman by Sjraar Van Heugten

Here are some notes on two more drawings.

I posted a review of Van Gogh: Master Draughtsman to Goodreads, which incorporates the above as well as the better parts of the two previous Van Gogh posts.

For The Plain of La Crau (1888), Van Gogh followed basic rules of perspective, making what is in the distance darker and more obscure, while the foreground is depicted without many marks. You might also notice the marks depicting what is in the distance are divided neatly into what look like fields or agricultural land. The sky above, by virtue of the lack of marks, looks serene.

There is nothing careless about where he chose to mark the page and how.

Style of course goes beyond technique and I think marking the page to fill up space was part of that style. Leaving a space empty looks like the exception and not the rule. It looks like a  conscious choice was made to do so. The parts also share the space in a way that conjures up something beyond the whole. They are organized and convey a sense of balance.

Overall, his drawings seem to express a particular mood and each mark was chosen not just to distinguish a given part of the work from another part but to help convey that mood.

Looking at Fishing boats on the beach at Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer (1888), there’s that emblematic steadfastness I spoke of before. The thick lines ground the boats as the main focal point, despite being surrounded by the marks depicting the sand and ocean. There is a again perfect balance, this time between the parts of the boats, as their lines intersect and the lighter details lead to the heavier details and guide the eye to the boat in the foreground.

Just for fun, I made of a copy of Van Gogh’s Fishing boats. I used Chinese ink (from Daiso) on Xuan paper and it created a very similar effect as Van Gogh’s materials, which I think was a reed pen on either laid or woven paper.

I also framed the boats in yellow and blue to highlight how the boats are in balance with not only themselves but with the lines created by the horizon and water line and the paper’s edge.

NB The yellow and blue are Roel Acuarelas Italianas water colors. They don’t absorb into the paper as well as the Chinese ink.