A Lesson From Vincent Van Gogh On How To Be Stunning

How the Basics Can Transform The Ordinary Into Masterpieces

Jake Daghe
4 min readDec 15, 2021


Photo by Ståle Grut on Unsplash

When people say picture your happy place, I think of a museum. More specifically, I think of an old museum where I can leisurely read each sign, gaze at every piece of art, and stand before each treasured item with no rush or distraction.

So when I got to spend a few hours by myself in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, needless to say, I was in heaven.

The life and work of Vincent van Gogh has been well-documented and chronicled. A painter with relative obscurity during his lifetime has since become an anchor of the impressionist movement and is world renown for his pieces like The Starry Night and Sunflowers.

But this article isn't necessarily about Van Gogh. It’s not even about his life or the way he taught himself how to create fantastic works of art, overcome hardships, and sacrifice in order to pursue what he was passionate about.

It’s about one painting in particular, Undergrowth, that hangs within the Van Gogh museum. And evenmore, this article stems from the description that was vinyled onto the wall next to that painting. A single sentence that can re-shape our thinking on what is needed to create a masterpiece.

Photo taken by author.

“Van Gogh made numerous works in the asylum’s shaded garden, charting its every nook and cranny. ‘It’s just a question of putting in some style,’ he wrote his brother. He meant that colour, line, and brushstrokes were sufficient to turn a simple subject into a true work of art. In this overgrown patch he radically cropped the composition, translated the ground cover daubs of colour, and contrasted it with the longer strokes of the tree trunks.” Undergrowth by Vincent Van Gogh.

What is necessary to create a true work of art? According to Van Gogh, it’s just a question of putting in some style. And what things would he consider to be stylistic?

What others would consider to be the basics: colour, line, and brushstrokes.



Jake Daghe

Creative Engineer writing working hypotheses | I write what I wish I could have read when I was younger | Join my newsletter ‘I/Q Crew’ on Substack.