van Gogh's letters - unabridged and annotated
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 4 letters relate to art - equipment...Excerpt length: shorter longer  
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(22 January 1882)
... I am greatly harassed by scarcity of funds. Besides, I still have relatively few drawing materials, or else defective ones. For the present it is sufficient - I have my paintbox and easel and brushes; but, for instance, this week my drawing board warped like a barrel because it was too thin, and my easel also got damaged in delivery, which is bad enough. Well, there are a lot of things which I still want to or have to improve; of course it needn't all be done at once, but daily it causes small expenses which, added together, worry me a great deal. Sometimes my clothes need repairing, and Mauve has already given me a few hints about that too, which I shall certainly carry out; but it cannot all be done at once.
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(3 June 1882)
... spent less for paint than other artists, I have spent more on making an instrument for studying proportion and perspective, the description of which can be found in a book by Albrecht Dürer, and which the old Dutch masters also used. It makes it possible to compare the proportion of objects near by with those on a more distant plane, in cases where construction according to the rules of perspective is not possible. And when one tries to do it with the eye alone - unless one is an expert and very far advanced - it is always hopelessly wrong. I did not succeed in making the instrument at once, but I managed it at last, after many efforts, with the help of the carpenter and the smithy. And after more efforts, I see a chance to get even better results.
Lettre de Vincent van Gogh à Theo van Gogh
(c. 14 March 1888)
... Et vraiment c'était bien beau. J'ai fait mes trois dernières études au moyen du cadre perspectif, que tu me connais. J'attache de l'importance à l'emploi du cadre, puisqu'il ne me semble pas improbable que dans un avenir peu éloigné plusieurs artistes s'en serviront, de même que les anciens peintres allemands et italiens sûrement, et je suis porté à le croire pas moins les Flamands s'en sont servis. L'emploi moderne de cet instrument peut différer de l'emploi qu'anciennement on en a fait - mais - n'est-ce pas de même qu'avec le procédé de la peinture à l'huile on obtient aujourd'hui des effets très différents de ceux des inventeurs du procédé: J. et Hubert v. Eyck? C'est pour dire que j'espère toujours ne pas travailler pour moi seul, je crois à la nécessité absolue d'un nouvel art de la couleur, du dessin et - de la vie artistique. Et si nous travaillons dans cette foi-là,...
Letter from Vincent van Gogh to Theo van Gogh
(c. 14 March 1888)
... And it was indeed a fine sight. I made my last three studies with the perspective frame which you know I use. I attach some importance to the use of the frame because it seems not unlikely to me that in the near future many artists will make use of it, just as the old German and Italian painters certainly did, and, as I am inclined to think, the Flemish too. The modern use of it may differ from the ancient practice, but in the same way isn't it true that in the process of painting in oils one gets very different effects today from those of the men who invented the process, Jan and Hubert van Eyck? And the moral of this is that it's my constant hope that I am not working for myself alone. I believe in the absolute necessity of a new art of colour, of design, and - of the artistic life. And if we work in that faith, it seems to me that there is a chance that we do not hope in vain. You must know that I am actually ready to send some studies off to you, only it is impossible...

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