In my last letter you will have found a little sketch of
that perspective frame I mentioned. I just came back from the
blacksmith, who made iron points to go on the sticks and iron
corners for the frame.
It consists of two long stakes; the frame may be attached to
them either upright or horizontally with strong wooden
[Here was drawn a sketch of the perspective frame.]
So on the shore or in the meadow or in the fields one can
took through it as through a window, the vertical lines
and the perpendicular line of the frame and the diagonal lines
and the point of intersection, or else the division in squares,
certainly give a few basic markers, with the help of which one
can make a firm drawing, from the indication of the main lines
and proportions - at least for those who have some instinct for
perspective and some understanding of the reason why and the
manner in which perspective gives an apparent change of
direction to the lines and a change of size to the lines and to
the whole mass. Without this the instrument is of little or no
use at all, and it makes one dizzy to look through it. I
think you can imagine how it is a delightful thing to focus the
viewer on the sea, on the green meadows, or in winter on the
snowy field or in autumn on the fantastic network of thin and
thick branches and trunks or on a stormy sky.
With long and continuous practice it enables one to draw
quick as lightning, - and once the drawing is established to
paint quick as lightning also.
In fact, for painting it is absolutely the thing, for
to express sky-earth-sea one needs the brush, or rather in
order to express all that in drawing it is necessary to know
and to understand the treatment of the brush. I certainly
believe that if I paint for some time, it will have great
influence on my drawing. I already tried it in January, but
then I had to stop, the reason for my decision being, aside
from a few other things, that I was too hesitant in my drawing.
Now six months have passed that have been quite devoted to
drawing. Well, it is with new courage that I start to paint
again. The perspective frame is really a fine piece of
workmanship; l am sorry you did not see it before you left. It
cost me quite a bit, but I have had it made so solidly that it
will last a long time. So next Monday I begin to make large
charcoal studies with it, and begin to paint small
studies. If I succeed in these two things, then I hope that
better-painted things will follow soon.
I want my studio to be a real painter's studio by the time
you come again. I had to stop in January, as you know, for
several different reasons, but after all it may be considered
like some defect in a machine, a screw or a bar that was not
strong enough and had to be replaced by a stronger one.
It is my decided aim to
learn from this painting of landscape a few things about
technique which I feel I need for the figure,
namely to express different materials, and the
tone and the colour. In one word, to express the
bulk - the body - of things. Through your coming it became
possible to me, but before you came there was not a day when I
did not think in this way about it, only I should have had to
keep exclusively to black and white and to the outline a little
longer. - But now I have launched my boat. Adieu, boy,
once more, a hearty handshake and believe me,
At this time, Vincent was 29 year old
Vincent van Gogh. Letter to Theo van Gogh. Written 5 or 6 August 1882 in The Hague. Translated by Mrs. Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, edited by Robert Harrison, number 223.
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