Making Marks Research Point – Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh - Self Portrait

While looking for a Vincent van Gogh pen and ink drawing I came across his ‘Rocky Ground at Montmajour’ the finest example of this was on Bridgeman Education:

I chose this picture because it is a great example of how Van Gogh uses very simple marks to build up an intricate scene. The types of marks that he uses such as squiggles, dots and dashes are very clear in the picture and yet the image still has great volume and texture.

For the sand in the foreground Van Gogh uses small squiggles that almost resemble tiny letter m’s while for the boulders that separates the sand from the grass he has used larger more irregular shapes with squiggles and circles to indicate erosion marks in the rocks.

Van Gogh used different line lengths for the grass with short, close to vertical dashes for the shorter grass while the longer grass is made up of longer and sometimes thicker strokes drawn at different angles to give a sense of coarseness.

The smaller bushes and trees are made up of curved lines as is the bark of tree in the middle, however, he seems to have used a very loose form of squirkling (connected squiggles) for the leaves and branches of the tree in the middle. He has also gives the viewer a sense of distance when looking at the tree on the right of the picture by drawing long vertical lines that depict a distant field, while the colour of the ink in the rocks in the foreground is much darker to give a sense of closeness.

The clouds in the sky seem to be made up of long thin zigzags while the bird flying in the sky is has been drawn with two short thick strokes.

It really is inspiring to see how such simple marks can make up such a complex image and I can’t wait for the opportunity to occur when I can do something like this.