In his letters, Van Gogh often sketched a painting in progress or one that he had just completed. He called these sketches "krabbels" (croquis). Some letters were accompanied by a separate sketch. He generally used ordinary writing ink, occasionally writing in the names of the colours. Other sketches served to clarify a point, such as how he arranged the colours on his palette.
Van Gogh’s own work
Van Gogh often inserted drawings into his letters to shed light on a description. For instance, in an 1888 letter to his friend, the Belgian artist Eugène Boch, he wrote, “Included herewith a very bad croquis of the starry night”. He also included a sketch of “a study of the Rhône, of the town under gaslight”. [letter 693]
View letters in which Van Gogh writes about his work >>
Sketches from the studio
Van Gogh was a skilled descriptive writer, but sometimes found it necessary to illustrate his words with a sketch: a dashed-off floor plan of his studio, for instance, or a detailed picture of a perspective frame that had been made for him, or a certain type of brush that he wanted Theo to send him.
View letters with sketches from the studio >>