Vincent van Gogh Quote: Letter #220

Hello friends.  Today I decided to get back to the wonderful Mother’s Day gift my family gave me last year:  the book called “Vincent van Gogh, Ever Yours, The Essential Letters.”

I was reading letter #220 which was written on April 23, 1882 by Vincent to his brother, Theo van Gogh.

In this letter Vincent is writing to Theo about his sketch “Men Digging” that he enclosed with the letter.  Here it is:

Vincent's Men Digging

“Men Digging” by Vincent van Gogh

He has told Theo about Tersteeg’s (the manager of Goupil in The Hague whom Vincent was well-acquainted with) discouraging comments to him reminding Vincent of past failures.  I found Vincent’s thoughts provoking and humorous.  This is what he had to say:

“It’s precisely because I have a draughtsman’s fist that I can’t keep myself from drawing and, I ask you, have I ever doubted or hesitated or wavered since the day I began to draw?  I think you know very well that I’ve hacked my way through and am obviously ever more keen to do battle.

Coming back to that little sketch – it was made in the Geest district in the drizzle, standing in a street in the mud, in all that bustle and noise, and I’m sending it to show you that my sketchbook proves that I try to capture things first-hand.  Put Iterson or H.G.T. himself, for example, in front of a sandpit in the Geest district where the dredgers are at work laying a water or gas pipe – I’d like to see the kind of face someone like that would pull and what kind of sketch he’d make.  Struggling on wharves and in alleys and streets and inside houses, waiting rooms, even public houses, that’s not a nice job, unless one is an artist. (Emphasis his.) As such one would rather be in the filthiest neighbourhood, provided there’s something to draw, than at a tea party with nice ladies.  Unless one draws ladies, in which case a tea party is nice even for an artist.”

I love Vincent’s humor!  Well, getting to the issue of drawing from life, back in May and today I tried to draw my hand.  This is the one from last year.  My Hand drawing in May 2015

This is the one from today along with some thoughts I had about Vincent’s drawing from life.  (I hope you can read my writing!)

My Hand and Thoughts March 2016


Drawing from life is not something I do a lot of.  I mostly draw from photos I have taken or practice things from others’ illustrations, etc.  I don’t have the greatest long distance vision so working outside like Vincent and most plein air painters of his time has never really appealed to me.  I have done it, but it frustrates me.

So these are just some thoughts I wanted to share today.  To close I am putting in one of Vincent’s drawing of hands.  Amazing, huh?  I really have a lot to learn!

Vincent's study of three hands

“Study of Three Hands” by Vincent van Gogh


Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug!  🙂

About whitefeatherfloating

When I began this blog I was simply going to share my writing. However, after being part of the blogging world for quite some time now, I decided to begin sharing my artwork. Patsy's Creative Corner will always have my artwork. Thanks for visiting! :)

Posted on March 19, 2016, in Art Talk and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Patsy, I thought your recent hand drawing had improved a lot! BTW, having a lot to learn is a wonderful place to be. I too love Van Gogh and really enjoyed this post. I want to get the book you mentioned. I find his writing to be quite eloquent.


    • Thanks so much, Julia! I appreciate that. His letters to his brother, Theo, are quite animated! He was such a delightful person. I am personally leaning toward the possibility that he was murdered and did not commit suicide! But….I have not reached the end of the book yet so I don’t know how his thinking progressed or digressed as it may have.


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