Drawing: Great Masters – Vincent van Gogh


Vincent van Gogh possessed spontaneous passion in his handwriting and it showed in his drawings. The character and rhythm of his marks are riveting.

Vincent used a variety of strokes in his work, usually starting in pencil and going over with a bamboo pen dipped in ink.  He sometimes used a broad flat pen point, switched to other points and also incorporated fine brushstrokes, all in the same drawing! Vincent was a mixed media artist ahead of his time.  Some of the strokes were made in diluted ink as can be seen from the examples below.

“I want to progress so far that people will say of my work, “he feels deeply, he feels tenderly – notwithstanding my so called roughness, perhaps even because of it.” Vincent van Gogh.

Vincent had a delightful clumsiness in his work; he did not care less about conformity.  He sidestepped the academic structure which may have restrained him and made up his own mind about his tools and techniques.  As Vincent mastered his technique, he came to recognize its power and beauty.


Count as many different types of strokes you can see in one of Vincent’s drawings.  Practice these strokes using a bamboo pen and black ink.  Vincent drew as quick as lightning in short strokes.  After all, bamboo pens run out of ink very quickly.   Now refer to the drawing immediately below and select your favourite tree. Incorporate as many of these different strokes as you can.  Don’t forget the clouds!

PS I can’t resist it!  Here is a gallery of some of Vincent’s amazing drawings.  They are indeed a graphic dance across the paper, musical and fluid.


Vincent van Gogh, “Cypresses, Saint Remy 1889” Reed pen and Bistre-coloured ink, with preparatory pencil on paper, The Brooklyn Museum.

Vincent1 Vincent2 Vincent3 Vincent4

Unfortunately, I cannot reference these, I found them in a book when I was only 16 years old!


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