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!

You’ve Got to be Joking!



My quote today is from Bagwan Rajneesh..

“Whenever you see seriousness,

Know well something is wrong – 

Because seriousness is part of a diseased being.

No flower is serious unless it is ill.

No bird is serious unless it is ill.

An awakened man realizes life is a song.”

It could be said our lives are built upon the idea of limitation and struggle.  Could it be that out sense of limitation comes from seeing ourselves as separate and struggling to survive in what seems a hostile world?

Peak moments arise when this separate sense of self vanishes.  These primal experiences can be experienced during prayer, love making, meditation, music, art or whenever separation from life dissolves.  In this state the person returns home to their source or God if you like.

Meditation can happen while gardening, cycling, running, doing housework and in all those repetitive things we do.

All the more reason to make music, make art, write, photograph, meditate and make love!

Drawing – Create Cohesive Magic


Check out this crazy, yet striking drawing! This man’s clothes are totally merged with the background yet you still get the impression he is sitting with his shoulder and hand resting on the arm of the chair.

It is possible to create a unified pattern with an amazing design device!

The idea is to leave no boundary lines between one object and another or even the background as you see above.  This idea can be used when any two adjoining shapes are the same tone (or almost the same.) Dark shapes, white or middle tone shapes can all be merged just as well.

Deliberately merging the shapes in only one or two places in your drawing is enough to create cohesive magic.

Check these out!


The black dresses are merged at the knees but separate at the shoulder making these ladies strangely together yet apart.


These cows are tied together by their black shapes yet you still see them as cows only in a more exciting and dynamic way.

Are you willing to try embracing opposite qualities simultaneously? You will be surprised at the spontaneous opportunities you will find to use this great skill, all to the benefit of your drawing practice!