Thursday, 13 September 2012

Research Point:Van Gogh Pen and Ink Drawing

Sketchbook 1: Page 14-15

Link to Drawing of Cottage Garden - Reed Pen and Ink

I chose this particular drawing because of the large variety of marks employed by the artist. The composition is pleasing with converging lines drawing the eye up towards the house in the distance.

Fine stippling is used over the sky to create an overall pale tone allowing the lightest area of the gable end of the house to stand out.
More robust, larger and darker stipples are used in the foreground to suggest the texture of a gravel path. Larger, more widely spaced and directional stipples and dashes in the bottom left corner suggest a concave and textured surface.

The artist has used a multitude of different types of hatching and cross-hatching marks.
Starting from the focal area - the house which sits in the upper third of the paper and is almost central horizontally. Deliberate and dark cross- hatching has been used to describe the roof tiles. There are longer slightly converging lines which appear to go away from us into the distance. These are attached to short lines which are deliberately drawn at an angle to the longitudinal lines creating an oblique space consisitent with tiles. There is a horizontal wiggly line under this area which further suggests the angle of the tiling and the eaves.  The other roof which is off to the left hand side of the picture is described with finer short hatching marks which are lighter in tone. This allows this roof to recede behind the vegetation and stops it drawing the eye out of the picture (atmospheric pesrpective has been employed here).

Closely spaced long and light-toned hatching is used to suggest fence panelling. To the Right of the midline this is vertical in orientation. Variations in the lengths of the vertical marks with their central portions being adjacent to each other seems to suggest that the fence is not completely straight but thet the panels are bowed in places. In the central area below the main house, horizintal lines have been used in a similar way to the above. They are light in tone (in the distance) and they are fine and very close to each other. There are three sections of these lines and they overlap each other giving a darker tone at the overlap to suggest the junction between the fence panels or the weaving of a wickerwork or bamboo fence.

In the central foreground, Van Gogh has used short, thick, dark hatching lines radiating out in a 'starburst' pattern from a central point. He has repeated this multiple times in this area to describe flowers in a crowded flowerbed.These marks become smaller and lighter in tone as they recede up the garden. Further flowers (probably sunflowers) are described by placing a dark central circle some of which are surrounded by lighter hatching, but most of them lack hatching (petals) altogether. Again, these circles get smaller as the move up towards the house suggesting distance and depth.

Slightly to the right of centre at the bottom of the page there squiggly hatching marks in a branching pattern and very dark suggest a stiff little shrub. Crossing over the stippled path over to the right side of the paper there is multidirectional hatching to suggest chaotic rather than well- manicured vegetation. There are small gaps in this dense hatching suggesting rocks. Horizontal lines extending out from this dark area describe the shadow of this vegetation on the gravel path.

On the left side of the the picture about 2/3rds of the way up there is a thicket of what appear to be palms or a thick type of bamboo. This has been rendered using fine vertical lines (for stalks). For the folliage the artist has used dark and slightly curved hatching marks which are in rows at various angles with the length getting shorter into the distance - in some places it almost looks like and arrowhead appearance.

Oval and Circular Marks

In addition to the obviously darkly drawn circles for the centres of flowers there are numerous other curved, oval and circular marks. in the top left there there are curved squiggly marks to suggest the foliage of a tree. In the central portion there are many, many small ovals. These get smaller proceeding up the page and lighter in tone again contributing to the three-dimensional feeling of depth.  Towards the left, these are interspersed with curved light hatching. These may, therefore be a suggestion of flowers rather than pebbles.

I have enjoyed this exercise. It is impressive to see how large the variety of marks employed by Van Gogh in this one work is. It would never have occurred to me to examine the work in such detail on my own. My eye would naturally have been drawn to the primary focal point and it has been interesting for me to notice how Van Gogh has used the various marks to point my attention in this way and to create a variety of textures. It is also striking how he has managed to convey the appearance of depth and three dimensionality on the flat page.

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