Great draftsmen: Hokusai, Daumier, van Gogh,

Being capable of making great drawings is a gift. A gift which was given to some. Not many. I do not talk here about the ability to copy photos or gypsum statues with the utmost accuracy and likeliness. The mimicking capacity or the manual versatility to draw photo-like drawings is a gift too, maybe the basis, important, but not complete, not essential, of being a great draftsman.

I choose arbitrarily 3 great draftsmen, from different time and places, to illustrate this point.   The first two, Hokusai and Daumier have greatly influenced the third, the most (post-mortem) famous of the three: Vincent van Gogh.
What can have in common Hokusai, Daumier and van Gogh?
One important thing is that all three of them have in common is they were drawing very fast, and this is evident in their drawings. Some samples:

Hokusai manga: the samurai and the moon

Another thing they have in common is the vigor of their drawings: strong contrast, no hesitation, no tentative lines. They do it with total focus and, probably, if we could assisted, we would saw a kind of absentminded bliss. Yes, I said BLISS. Fortunately, this kind of bliss, this kind of total focus in the drawing work is not the prerogative of Daumier, Hokusai, van Gogh. ANYONE who like drawing remarked probably this. You draw and the time passed unnoticed, your money (or other) troubles disappear (for a while) and yes, you are happy.

No wonder they use it in Art Therapy. No wonder draftsmen (and draftswomen, of course) are, in general, happy, curious, open-minded people. They can be a bit mysantropical, like another great draftsman, Edgar Degas. But he WAS, at least, curious and, from time to time, happy.

Gauguin (not a bad draftsman himself) had a bassorelief  carved in precious woodwith the words: “Be In Love and You’ll Be Happy!”

Be in Love and You'll Be Happy!

I would paraphrase him and change it to:

“Draw and You’ll be Happy!”



8 responses to “Great draftsmen: Hokusai, Daumier, van Gogh,

  1. P.S. When I say “draw”, “drawing” I do not make a net distinction with “paint” and “painting”. In a way, when you draw you paint and when you paint you draw. The net distinction was made for classification purposes. So, “Paint and You’ll Be Happy”! is as valid a happiness tool.

    Dedicated to C., and G. and all my known and unknown friends who love drawing/painting but do not have, yet, total confidence in themselves…

  2. diditevercrossyourmind

    I love art and sketching as well and i could completely relate to what you have said. when you draw, you truly seem to be transported, for that period, to an entirely new existance, that is, your drawing… the pieces that you have used as examples prove your point as well, i did not know at first but the fluid motions of the strokes used show clearly that the strokes were quick, confident and precise.. a lovely read.. 🙂

  3. Thank you very much, diditevercrossyourmind! (aiaiaiai!) Glad you liked it and could relate to it. And thanks for the visit!

  4. Dearest:
    Thanks for the great info. and for sharing it I really learn a lot from / with you!
    Loved the expression you used “We would see a kind of absent-minded bliss. Yes, I said bliss.” It’s certainly the best way to characterize their “state of absence”, being focussed the way they were (as other draft people still are…)
    (Excuse me for saying this, but I kind of see this “absence” of yours, and your bliss, while sketching, drawing, painting or even writing.)
    I somehow see myself there, portrayed in your text, in this “state of grace” of being “absent” while writing. Time flies. I don’t need to eat, nor to drink, nor to sleep. Sometimes I remember smoking (why so?), but I also have an answer for that. And at the very end of my text, poem, essay, (…) I feel kind of relieved, stronger and happy. (But the happiest part is the “doing”, not the result of it.) Sometimes I feel a bit empty, too, as if I wished, I could never stop giving words a life and a meaning. Or no meaning at all. Just a place to see them get together, organized, playing around, maybe, or taking a nap together in harmony, in peace.
    While painting I kind of feel the same but painting relaxes me a lot more. Maybe the colours make a sort of difference, maybe I don’t think that much and I just paint what comes directly to my fingertips. (Of course not; the real process is not that, but… writing is much more demanding!)
    However, (and I’m so glad that you dedicated this text of yours to me, too!!! Thank you!) I can’t really paint. I am creative enough and so but (that is what you call not confident enough) I I am aware that I’m not that good. And to become confident one needs to feel that the work you’re doing is good. (…)
    Meanwhile I keep on practising as long as it gives me pleasure, as long as I’m in love with it!
    Anyway… My intention in not to get rich nor famous through art (LOL!). It is much more to do pleasant, valuable things that warm my mind and spirit, allow me a better self-awareness and self-knowledge, arise my beauty inside and that don’t allow the world to change me!!!

    Leave you with a warm hug,



    • You totally get it. I couldn’t describe better the creative bliss. A suggestion (if you do not already do it): paint with your fingers. That’s why the painting bliss is more intense, sometimes: Painting is a lot more physical, gestual and touching (touch touch not in the sense of emotional). Does a lot of good and I would personally a lot more balanced and happier if I could/would paint more. A lot of time consumed with Internet etc. Try to paint with your fingers (acrylics is less toxic than oil, if toxic at all) and experiment. You’ll see. And as you said in the end, you paint for the good reasons. Rich and famous would be kind of collateral damage…For most of the artists it’s post-mortem happening… Thanks for the hug, back at you…Dn

  5. Reblogged this on nós.

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