Van Gogh rijksstudio competition

Road behind the Parsonage Garden in Nuenen, 1884 by Vincent van Gogh

Over the last week I’ve been working on interpreting a pen drawing by Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) It’s of a road behind the Parsonage Garden in Nuenen. Van Gogh is one of my all time favourite artists. I have a vivid memory of being introduced to his work around the age of 12 by my art teacher (Fons Pisters). It was the field with crows (see below), I realised that for a drawing to be good it does not need to look realistic, but using colour and shapes freely and intuitively adds soul, emotion, character…

Here are some of his works I love

(Vincent van Gogh. Top: Wheatfield with Reaper 1889, Wheatfield with Crows 1890 –  Bottom: Almond Blossom 1890, The sower 1888)

I decided to enter the competition that the Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam) is organising (Rijksstudio Award 2017).  Deadline is 15 Januari 2017, so just on time! The competition challenges Designers and Artist to choose any artwork that is in the Rijksmuseum and let it be a source of inspiration to create something new.

When I was looking at the pen drawing it felt immediately familiar, because it looks so much like where I’m living. Nuenen is in my neighbouring province Brabant. I love the way he managed to remain playful even though the colours are quite dark and heavy. I can sense the sunlight shining through the pollard willows.

At first I just started copying the drawing, to sort of familiarize with it:

Van Gogh Farmer 32 x 45 cm chalkpastel on paper, Isabella El-Hasan

When looking at my kids play with the neon divider-stickies (what are they called??)  I decided to recreate the pen drawing with neon stickers and experiment a bit with some stronger colours.


After this cool little exercise I grabbed my chalk pastels (soft ones!) again and started drawing with the aim to express the emotion I feel whilst looking at the drawing.

Farmer and Willows, 32 x 45 cm, Chalkpastel on paper, Isabella El-Hasan

If you’ve been following my blog you know I always listen to music whilst drawing, so this was one of the songs I listened to, by Maggie Rogers:

This was fun! I loved getting to know this particular work of Van Gogh, so close to my heart.

Thank you for your visit and please feel free to comment give feedback, ask questions. I’m happy to respond.

Much Love and Salam


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