Vincent Van Gogh and Reed Pen Mark Making. Artist Research.

People won’t know this but I am an experienced watercolour painter and user of anything inky !! Well that just means I have a Reed Pen or two and just love to play around with it. A Reed Pen is just a piece of bamboo that has been shaped to a point or flat edge and once dipped in ink makes wonderful fluid marks.

Reed Pen and Acrylic Ink
Reed Pen and Acrylic Ink

Van Gogh was an expert with a Reed Pen, here are two samples of his expressive drawing. My favourite is the Sailing Boats drawing, the use of wavy lines and short dashes to explain the sea in wonderful. His use of thick and thin marks gives the water a choppy feel, with the sky’s movement just written as closed and open lines.

Sailing Boats Ink drawing with Reed Pen 1888
Lane at Les Saintes-Maries Ink drawing with Reed Pen 1888

The lane at Les Saintes-Maries is wonderful too, with it’s dotty path and woolly bushes and plants at the side. Van Gogh has used short marks to draw the roofs and followed their shape. And I just love the quick scribble for the wood smoke from the chimneys. He has also shown us one point perspective as the path runs off into the distance.

I’m adding two of Van Gogh’s paintings, as he continues his mark making in paint. The shoes on the floor look organic, well worn and so alive. The lines at the side of the shoe give it a feeling that it was just ‘dropped’ there on the floor, as bit like a cartoon line to show movement.

Shoes. 1888
Pears 1888

I love these pears just piled up. Each one looks ready to eat. His use of emotional lines and shading really do create the form of the pears, in such a way that you want to touch them. His composition is that of a triangle shape as the pears seem to rise to a point. Plus the back ground lines are drawn upwards, as if it was the back of a tree and the base is expressed as short lines.

Here’s my practice sheet on making marks with a Reed Pen and Acrylic ink. I’m just playing around.

Mark Making like Van Gogh using a Reed Pen and Ink.