My dear Theo,
Since Pa and Ma are writing, I’ll enclose a few words, but hope to write to you soon in more detail, namely after Mauve’s visit, who’s going to Princenhage soon and will also come here. I must tell you, Theo, that M. sent me a painting box with paint, brushes, palette, palette knife,1 oil, turpentine, in short, with all the necessaries.
So now it’s settled that I’ll also set about painting, and I’m really glad it’s come to this.
Well, recently I’ve done a great deal of drawing, especially figure studies. If you saw them now, you’d surely see what direction I’m taking.
Naturally I’m extremely eager to hear what M. will have to say to me.
Have also drawn some children recently,2 and I liked that very much.
These days it’s beautiful outdoors in colour and tone, when I’ve gained some understanding of painting I’ll get around to expressing some of it, but we have to persevere, and now that I’m drawing figures I’ll go on with that until I’ve made a good deal more progress, and if I work outdoors it will be to do studies of trees, though actually viewing the trees as if they were figures.
I mean, viewing them particularly with an eye to outline, proportion and how they’re constructed. That’s the first thing one has to consider. After that comes the modelling and the colour and the surroundings, and it’s precisely this problem that I must discuss with M.
But Theo, I’m really so happy with my painting box, and it’s better, it seems to me, that I’ve got it only now, after having drawn exclusively for at least a year, than if I’d started with it immediately. I think you’ll agree with me there.
Now then, in my previous letter I forgot to tell you that I really think it very good that you’ll be going to London. I’d like it less if you were to move there for good, but it’s excellent that you’ll now become acquainted with it. But in the long run I don’t think you’d feel at home there, at least it’s becoming increasingly clear to me that, speaking for myself, I wasn’t really in my element there.
I really do feel much more at home here in Holland, yes, I think that I’ll again become a Dutchman through and through, and don’t you think that’s actually the most sensible thing? I think that I’ll again become thoroughly Dutch both in character and in my manner of doing things as regards drawing and painting. Though I do think it will help me to have been abroad for a while and to have seen one thing and another there which is not unuseful to know. When you go to London, I’d like it very much if you would give my kind regards to my old mates George Read and Richardson. I saw Mr Obach this summer in The Hague.
George Read is, if you will, a very ordinary person inasmuch as he perhaps doesn’t particularly distinguish himself, whether in business or in knowledge, but as a person and character, if one knows him rather intimately, there is no more faithful, more kind, more sensitive chap than he. He’s so nice and so witty and so capable in domestic life that in that respect he’s worth a lot as a friend. If I were allowed to choose whom I should most like to see again from those I became acquainted with in England, it would definitely be George Read, I think. Which is why, if you want to do me a favour, you must chat with him sometime – you realize I mean the elder of the two – and tell him that I hope some day to renew our earlier acquaintance and that I’ll write to him sometime.
I mean to do it, though, only after you’ve spoken to him and after I’ve started to paint.
Because, Theo, my actual career begins with painting, don’t you think it’s all right to see it that way? And now regards, accept a handshake in thought, and believe me