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At Work
If you wanna be a writer you gotta be a reader.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Van Gogh and Technique

Yes, Vincent van Gogh, the painter (1853-1890), famous for his technique with vivid color and landscapes.  But technique is technique, be it painting or writing, and in a recent article in the Smithsonian magazine (Jan 09), Paul Trachtman writes:

". . . van Gogh's discipline was as firm as his genius was unruly, and he taught himself all the elements of classical technique with painstaking thoroughness.  He copied and recopied lessons from a standard treatise on drawing until he could draw like the old masters, before letting his own vision loose in paint.  Although he knew he needed the utmost technical skill, he confessed to an artist friend that he aimed to paint with such 'expressive force' that people would say 'I have no technique.'"

What's my point here?  How van Gogh approached painting is much the same as a committed, serious writer should approach writing: first learn the rules, and then you can break them.  It doesn't work the other way around.

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