Handwriting of the Master: Van Gogh and Mondrian

A different approach to Art History

During high school, we were taught about artists, where they were born, when did they live and some of their famous paintings. I found this topic in art extremely boring and thus I don’t remember so much a thing from that time. I still agree with that, we shouldn’t care so much about the history of an artist to the point that it’s just a game of memorization and regurgitation of facts. This time we started to be like them in order to remember them. Not so much their entire life story but their personality and how to be inspired by them to put their skills in our art background. This is something I was never taught to do. If you read my last post. I point out that copying is a great way to learn. This is no different.

Vincent William Van Gogh

He was a Dutchman who was born in March 30 1853  and died in July 29 1890

Vincent Van Gogh

He was part of the Post-Impressionist movement

  • Most influential painter of Western Art.
  • In 10 years created over 2,100 artworks including 860 oil paintings during
    the last years of his life.
  • He liked to draw landscapes, still life, portraits, and self-portraits.
  • His work can be described with bold colors and expressive brushstrokes which contributed to modern art.
  • As a child, he was very serious, quiet and thoughtful, He was an art dealer but became sad and decided to spend more time with religion. He became a Protestant missionary in Southern Belgium. He got sick and lonely and started to take up painting in 1881.
  • His younger brother Theo was really good friends with Vincent and supported him financially and they wrote a lot of letters to each other.
  • His early work didn’t use much color and his artwork was about still life and peasant laborers.
  • He met with the avant-garde who were rebelling against the impressionist sensibility.
  • His paintings began to have more bright colors and developed a style that became fully realized during his stay in Arles 1888 where he expanded his subjects to Olive trees, Cypresses, wheat fields and sunflowers.
  • Vincent suffered from mental illnesses and neglected his physical health. He drank a lot and didn’t eat so much. His friend from the avant-garde ended after a confrontation with a razor (knife). When he was angry he cut a part of his left ear.
  • He went to the hospital and discharged himself.
  • He continued to be depressed and he shot himself in the chest and died with injuries a couple days later.
  • He wasn’t successful during his time and only after his death people discovered his paintings. As being a madman and a failure.

    The artist “where discourses on madness and creativity converge”

Cypresses by Vincent Van Gogh

Giorgio Mondrian

He was Italian, who was born July 20, 1890 and died June 18, 1964
He was a Painter and Printmaker who specialized in Still Life of Vases, bowls, flowers and landscapes

Giorgio Morandi
  • Born in Bologna (not bologne), studied in Academy of Fine arts in Bologna, His Father died in 1909 and Morandi became head of the family.
  • The School were based on 14th century painting techniques but he taught himself to etch from Rembrandt. He did very well in his studies but his Teachers didn’t like how he changed in his style during the last years of school.
  • In 1910 he visited France and met with some Artists and made an impression on him.
  • He tried Futurist style in 1914 and became an instructor of drawing for a
    elementary school in Bologna which he taught until 1929 (15 years)
  • He also tried Metaphysical painting from 1918 – 1922 but finally chose to focus on subtle differences of hue, tone and arranged objects in a unifying atmospheric haze where he carried for the rest of his life.
  • From 1930 – 1956 he was a professor of Etching at the same school. He continued to win first prize for his painting and won the grand prize in Paris in 1956 and 1957
  • He was quiet and polite, he was known for his optimistic personality, He died of lung cancer on June 20, 1964,
giorgio mornadi still life with coffeepot 1933.jpg
Still life with coffee pot

Class summary

  • Introduction to Ink Media
  • Master Artist biographies
  • Copying Artists Work


  • Read Chapter 1
  • Mark their self-assessment in their books
  • finish any unfinished homework
  • Complete Vincent Van Gogh drawing
  • Choose one of the two artists and draw the following
    • 1 Still Life drawing of your choice or 1 Landscape drawing of your choice
  • Buy a small round brush
  • Buy a carrying case

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