What Art Tools Did Vincent Van Gogh Use?

What Art Tools Did Vincent Van Gogh Use?

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Vincent Van Gogh continues to be one of the world’s most popular and highly recognizable artists. He is well-known for his magnificent works of art.

Vincent Van Gogh used most of the essential tools that artists of his day used, such as oil paints, turpentine, oil, canvas, brushes, palette knife, and easel. We learn from some of his letters how he used these art tools for his paintings. We also know from the letters how essential these art tools were to him.

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Art Tools That Van Gogh Used For His Paintings

We know that Vincent Van Gogh used many essential artistic tools in his painting. In October 1881, in a letter to his brother Theo, he spoke of Mauve coming to visit and bring him some supplies.

In this, Vincent Van Gogh gave Theo and list of the supplies he received. Vincent Van Gogh wrote:

“I must tell you, Theo, that M. (Mauve) sent me a painting box with paint, brushes, palette, palette knife, oil, turpentine, in short, with all the necessaries.
So now it’s settled that I’ll also set about painting, and I’m really glad it’s come to this.”

Vincent Van Gogh

We learn from this letter all the art tools that Van Gogh felt he needed to paint, including brushes, paints, palettes, palette knife, oil, turpentine, and canvas.

Vincent Van Gogh Used Oil Paints

Vincent Van Gogh used oil paints. He would paint with natural pigments and some new synthetic oil paints.

Vincent Van Gogh
Vincent Van Gogh

During Van Gogh’s lifetime, the new synthetic oil paints started developing as an industry. The industry was beginning to sell ready-to-use tubed synthetic oil paints; the production and purchase of these paints began to increase in the late 19th century.

The intense colors that the synthetic oil paints could produce were extremely popular with the Parisian avant-garde artists – a group Vincent Van Gogh belonged to. Vincent Van Gogh was known to use many of these newer colors; however, some of the paint colors were not fully developed, so the colors would fade when exposed to light.

Vincent Van Gogh loved colors such as bright greens, chrome yellow, and lemon yellow. Yellow was one of his favorite colors.

You can read about Vincent Van Gogh and the color yellow by reading our blog Why Did Vincent van Gogh Use The Color Yellow So Much In His Work? by clicking here.

Art Brushes That Vincent Van Gogh Used

Vincent Van Gogh was known to use a large and a medium hog hair brush in his artwork. We know that Vincent Van Gogh was fascinated with the Japanese woodblock prints and the techniques they used, so whatever type or style of brushes he used, he looked to the Japanese woodblock prints for inspiration.

In a letter to his brother Theo, Vincent Van Gogh wrote this about his famous painting called Vincent’s Bedroom in Arles:

“I shall work on it again all day, but you see how simple the conception is. The shadows and the cast shadows are suppressed; it is painted in free flat tints like the Japanese prints. It is going to be a contrast to, for instance, the Tarascon diligence and the night café.”

Vincent Van Gogh

Also, in a letter to Emile Bernard, he talks about the brush strokes he used on a painting called Orchard in Blossom. This letter gives us insights into how Vincent Van Gogh viewed his brush strokes.

“My brush stroke has no system at all. I hit the canvas with irregular touches of the brush, which I leave as they are. Patches of thickly laid-on colour, spots of canvas left uncovered, here or there portions that are left absolutely unfinished, repetitions, savageries; in short, I am inclined to think that the result is so disquieting and irritating as to be a godsend to those people who have preconceived ideas about technique.“

Vincent Van Gogh

Van Gogh Used A Palette Knife

Vincent Van Gogh also used a palette knife to paint. A palette knife is a small flat knife used to apply small amounts of paint to a surface; this is how Van Gogh would have used a palette knife.

He would use the palette knife to spread the paint on the canvas. We know that a palette knife was also considered one of his essential tools for painting.

Self-Portrait in Front of the Easel (1888) By Vincent Van Gogh
Self-Portrait in Front of the Easel (1888) By Vincent Van Gogh

Van Gogh Used An Easel To Paint

We know that Vincent Van Gogh also used an easel to paint many paintings. We know he often took that easel outside to paint en Plein air.

In a letter to his brother Theo in 1889, we get a glimpse of how he would use the easel with his paintings:

“Just now I have on the easel an orchard of peach trees beside a road with the Alpilles in the background.”

Vincent Van Gogh to Theo (1889)

Vincent Van Gogh Valued His Art Tools

We learn from Vincent Van Gogh and many of his letters how much he valued his art tools. When he did not have them, he would not be able to paint.

Vincent Van Gogh also understood the value of having a good set of tools. In writing a letter to his brother Theo, he spoke of this when he said:

“Good tools are never a waste, and they pay for themselves even if they are expensive. And to get ahead one must do a great deal of painting.”

Vincent Van Gogh, Letter to theo (1883)

Vincent Van Gogh used many of the essential tools that many artists use, but we know that he used them in a way that others could or did not. He was a master at using every tool he had to paint so many magnificent art masterpieces.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Who was Vincent Van Gogh?

Vincent Van Gogh was a Dutch post-impressionist painter who is considered one of the most influential artists in Western art history.

When was Vincent Van Gogh born and when did he die?

Van Gogh was born on March 30, 1853, and he died on July 29, 1890.

What are some of Vincent Van Gogh’s most famous paintings?

Some of his most famous paintings include “Starry Night,” “Sunflowers,” “The Bedroom,” “Irises,” and “Café Terrace at Night.”

Did Vincent Van Gogh become famous during his lifetime?

No, Van Gogh’s work gained recognition and appreciation after his death. He only sold one painting during his lifetime.

What is Vincent Van Gogh’s painting style?

Van Gogh’s painting style is characterized by bold brushstrokes, vivid colors, and emotional intensity. He often used impasto technique to create texture in his paintings.

Did Vincent Van Gogh have mental health issues?

Yes, Van Gogh struggled with mental health problems throughout his life. He was diagnosed with conditions such as depression, anxiety, and possibly bipolar disorder.

How many paintings did Vincent Van Gogh create?

Van Gogh produced approximately 2,100 artworks, including around 860 oil paintings and more than 1,300 watercolors, drawings, and sketches.

Did Vincent Van Gogh cut off his ear?

Yes, Van Gogh famously cut off a part of his left earlobe during a period of mental distress in 1888. The exact circumstances surrounding this event are still debated.

Did Vincent Van Gogh ever sell any of his paintings?

Van Gogh only sold one painting, “The Red Vineyard,” during his lifetime. It was sold to a Belgian art collector for a modest sum.

How Did Vincent Van Gogh’s Paintings Become Famous?

Vincent van Gogh’s painting became famous because his sister-in-law took it upon herself after his death and the death of her husband, Theo, to find a way to get his paintings and name out to the world. She was brilliant and savvy in how she did this. By the time she died in 1925, Vicent van Gogh was world-renowned.

By clicking here, you can learn more by reading How Did Vincent Van Gogh’s Paintings Become Famous?.

Why Is Van Gogh Considered Such a Great Artist?

Many things make Vincent Van Gogh unique and great as an artist. He had a great way to use color in his heart, but more than that, he was an artist who set and paved the way, and his brushstroke technique used color and his design ability. What is interesting about all this he did this as a self-taught artist.

By clicking here, you can discover more by reading Why Is Van Gogh Considered Such a Great Artist?

How Much Is Van Gogh’s Starry Night Worth?

Van Gogh used color, form, and emotions in his art. He had a bright palette that was individualized for his time. Even though he did not see a lot of success during his life after he died, the impact of his art can be seen in both the Expressionism and Fauvism movements that were taking place in Europe.

By clicking here, you can learn more by reading How Much Is Van Gogh’s Starry Night Worth?, And Other Facts.

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