Do What You Cannot Do Yet - 15/11/2018


“I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it,” is a quote attributed to the famous Dutch Post-Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh. This quote is an inspiration for everyone who has a dream and a vision. Van Gogh captured reality in his own unique way, depicting what he saw and visualising the landscape through his paintings. According to Wim van Wegen, many geomatics companies have got where they are today by taking a similar trial-and-error approach.

“I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it,” is a quote attributed to the famous Dutch Post-Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh. His work is characterised by thickly laden, dramatic brushstrokes and bold colours. In total he produced around 2,100 artworks, including some 860 oil paintings. Today, Van Gogh is one of the most famous artists in the history of Western art, and several of his paintings rank among the most expensive in the world, but he was not at all commercially successful when he was alive. In fact, it is commonly believed that 'The Red Vineyard at Arles' was the only painting sold during Van Gogh’s lifetime.

The story of Van Gogh, who struggled to make a living as an artist, is actually quite tragic for a painter who became so famous after his death and left such a huge legacy of splendid artworks. Van Gogh definitely learned his craft by trial and error; his interest in art began when he was a child, when he was encouraged to draw by his mother. This quote is an inspiration for everyone who has a dream and a vision. Van Gogh captured reality in his own unique way, depicting what he saw and visualising the landscape through his paintings. Wheat fields, orchards and other rural scenes such as harvests were among his favourite topics.

The Post-Impressionist art movement was known for the application of vivid colours, the often dense use of paint and for depicting real-life subject matter. Post-Impressionists were more inclined to emphasise geometric forms than their predecessors, the Impressionists. In the mapping and surveying profession, capturing reality often produces point clouds – which can sometimes look surprisingly similar to a Van Gogh painting. Many geomatics companies have got where they are today by taking a similar trial-and-error approach. Start-ups have become household names in the geospatial industry, and some of them are celebrating major milestones this year. During Intergeo, RIEGL, the Austrian manufacturer of high-end laser scanning equipment, celebrated its 40th anniversary. Trimble, the California-based developer of GNSS receivers, total stations, laser scanners and other geospatial solutions, was founded in the same year (1978). Racurs, the Russian photogrammetry specialist, was established 25 years ago. None of them would have got this far without experimenting to find out what works and what doesn’t… i.e. without doing what they cannot do yet.

The Red Vineyard. (Vincent van Gogh, 1888)
The Red Vineyard. (Vincent van Gogh, 1888)

Last updated: 22/11/2018