Vincent van Gogh started painting in 1881 at age 27. In the 10 years that followed he painted about 900 paintings. His average of one painting every 4 days is even more impressive when you realize that he also made 1100 drawings and sketches.

Van Gogh also wrote 650 letters during that period. What about the time it took to choose the subjects? The studies he made in advance? The time it took to grab his easel and go into the fields? Van Gogh was a very hard worker.

Work hard, paint fast.

Van Gogh’s first, or one of his first paintings, was 'Still life with cabbage and Clogs' and not soon after he finished it, his drive to paint many paintings was clear in a letter to his brother Theo:

"I’m still going to Mauve’s every day, during the day to paint, in the evenings to draw. Have now painted 5 studies and 2 watercolours, and naturally a few scratches."

From the beginning of his career Van Gogh wanted to paint fast. In his letter to Theo August 1882 he wrote:

"With considerable practice and with lengthy practice, it enables one to draw at lightning speed and, once the lines are fixed, to paint at lightning speed."

Van Gogh’s hard work made him a better painter.

As with any skill, wether it’s playing tennis or playing guitar; it takes endless practice to reach top level. In October 1883 Van Gogh seemed content that his hard work started to pay off, according to his letter to Theo:

"Painting is coming more easily to me; I feel an urge to tackle all sorts of things that I left undone until today."

And in 1885 he found out that in order to create the effects that he wanted, there was only one way and that was to paint fast. To his brother:

"That the beautiful effects of the light in nature require one to work very fast.”

Van Gogh’s letter to his friend and fellow painter Emile Bernard also mentioned his pace of painting.

In June 1888:

"I’ve sometimes worked excessively fast; is that a fault? I can’t help it. For example I’ve painted a no. 30 canvas — the summer evening — at a single sitting. It’s not possible to rework it; to destroy it — why, because I deliberately went outside to make it, out in the mistral. Isn’t it rather intensity of thought than calmness of touch that we’re looking for — and in the given circumstances of impulsive work on the spot and from life, is a calm and controlled touch always possible? Well — it seems to me — no more than fencing moves during an attack."

One painting a day.

With his fast way of painting and his nature of a hard worker, Van Gogh managed to finish more paintings than ever. Even when he went into the asylum after he suffered mental problems and cut off his ear, he painted more than 130 paintings in a year. And in 1890 in Auvers-sur-Oise he reached the amazing average of 1 painting a day.  

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How long did it take Van Gogh to finish a painting? Detail of our hand-painted reproduction of Van Gogh's 'Willows at Sunset'.

Our attempt to paint like Van Gogh

For more than 20 years we have reproduced Van Gogh’s paintings. With a brush and in oil on canvas, just like Van Gogh made them. As we are located in Amsterdam, close to the Van Gogh Museum, we are lucky to be able to visit the original paintings as often as we like and learn from the master.

None of our artists has ever managed to finish a painting as fast as Van Gogh though. Ok, replicating may require a different skill. We don’t know how accurate Van Gogh would have been if he had tried to copy his own work exactly. But when you try to paint just like Van Gogh it becomes clear how long it takes to master his technique and paint as beautifully as Van Gogh did.

Replicate with Van Gogh’s pace.

In order to create a painting like Van Gogh you just have to paint fast as he did. If you don’t, you won’t get the same result. You can spend a little more time on the ground layers, but the thick tile like brushstrokes need to be done without hesitation.

Alla prima style van gogh Detail of our hand-painted reproduction of Van Gogh's 'Blossoming Amond Tree'.

Alla prima

Although you can take more time for the ground layers, we still need to paint wet on wet like Van Gogh did. With the alla prima painting style (at first attempt in Italian) the colors mix on the canvas. In case a light color is already on the canvas you’ll have to pick a darker color to end up with the result in the middle. This is a very exciting process. It enables you to catch the light like the impressionists. The idea that Van Gogh himself was playing with this and actually saw the scenes in nature that we are painting these days gives a feeling of connection with the master.

Every time we visit the Van Gogh Museum or the Kröller-Müller Museum we learn more. Respect for this amazing artists grows. He gave everything to develop into the artist who is now world famous for his style.

The best alternative.

Although we can’t offer you a real Van Gogh, you may find our replicas the best alternative. Have a close look at an original Van Gogh painting in a museum or at one of our reproductions. Details seem to become little paintings of their own. The paint itself appears to be alive. Just like Van Gogh will live forever.
      04-05-2020 16:18     Comments ( 3 )
Comments (3)
 Erik (Van Gogh Studio) -  07-02-2023

Hi Patrick, yes his brother supported him with a lot of money so he could buy canvas and paint etc. Theo was able to do this as director of Goupil & Co in Paris.

 Patrick -  13-01-2022

How could he afford all that paint and all those canvases painting at the rate he did? You would have to financially well off.

 BensarT -  04-10-2020

Good day mates, thank for the information and inspiration, I now know my dream.