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Vincent van Gogh’s drawings – power and honesty on paper!

This is the first of a series of blogs where I explore the drawing styles of famous artists, past and present. I have a special interest in the drawings and preparatory sketches of many artists who are best known for their paintings, sculptures, and animations.


Vincent van Gogh is one of my favorite artists. His paintings are most well-known whereas his powerful drawings receive marginal attention. The simple, direct honesty reflected in his drawings always excites me. These drawings focus on modest, mundane subject matter but give it a monumental quality. Here is one of my favorites:


Orchard with Arles in the Background, 1888


Vincent van Gogh - Drawing using pencil, pen, black and violet ink


The thick, tactile marks evident in his paintings translate into simple, spontaneous marks when he draws. Lines of varying thickness and dynamic direction are used. His drawings display a delicate sense of rhythm, movement and depth.


The directness in which he portrays what he sees is poetry on paper. Sensitive qualities of mark used for details in the background contrast dramatically with bolder lines in the foreground.


This work displays the refined skill and sensitivity of the artist.




There is much value in looking at the drawings of Vincent van Gogh. His drawing style is truly unique. Those interested in drawing can take much from observing the way in which van Gogh uses rhythmic, expressive, and seemingly random mark-making for his drawings. The fluidity in which he works with ink is inspirational.


I hope that you might develop a new interest and insights into the somewhat neglected appreciation of famous artists’ drawing styles. I see in these humble drawings an honesty and directness that is often lacking in the more forcibly manipulated and orchestrated final artworks.


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