Thursday, April 30, 2015

Emulating Vincent

4/28/15 India ink, Zebra Comic G dip pen, Bristol board (from image of
Van Gogh drawing, below)
Unlike wood cut prints or the fine hatch marks of some of the other masters we’ve been copying, Van Gogh’s lines are more organic and irregular – a huge bonus for me in this week’s class. Although copying his drawings is just as labor-intensive and time-consuming as the previous assignments, I find it somewhat easier to make his curvy line strokes rather than straight ones. It is fascinating to study the originals and see the wide variety of strokes he used to convey light/dark or foreground/distance.

As my classmates and I silently scratched away with our dip pens trying to emulate the master, our instructor Eric Elliott read a bit to us from a book containing a large collection of Van Gogh’s drawings. Apparently Van Gogh used a reed quill – essentially a finer version of the twig I use when I emulate KK! – to do his drawings, which makes me appreciate his drawings all the more; he probably had to re-dip his reed with every stroke (unlike my delightful Zebra Comic G nib, which holds a fair amount of ink per dip).

Ink sketch by Vincent Van Gogh
I haven’t studied Van Gogh much, so I was surprised to see how many drawings he had produced (as opposed to paintings). When I said this to Eric, he told me that Van Gogh had periods when he made drawings because he couldn’t afford paint. I thought about how easily I place an order at or whenever I “need” an art supply (or just feel like I want something new), and it broke my heart.

P.S. Speaking of JetPens, I just got a Tachikawa nib holder for my G nib, and it’s terrific! The rubbery grip makes it so much easier and more comfortable to hold for long periods, hatching away. I’d give one to Vincent if I could.

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