On his arrival in Cuesmes, Vincent found accommodation with Edouard Joseph Francq at Rue du Pavillon 5. He later rented a room from the neighbouring Decrucq family; it is not known precisely when he moved in. By then, he had decided – albeit irresolutely and on his brother Theo’s advice – to focus on his art. Thus, at the Decrucqs’, he diligently copied illustrations from Charles Bargues’s Excercises au fusain pour préparer à l’étude de l’académie d’après nature, published by the art dealers Goupil & Cie in 1871; he had borrowed the book from Tersteeg, his old boss at Goupil. He also made sketches of labourers and, according to accounts, a drawing of the family he was staying with, The Decrucq family picking potatoes. The drawing is not known to exist; most of the works he made in the Borinage were destroyed. Vincent sometimes drew in his room and sometimes in the garden of the house. However, he did not believe he had enough room to work properly:
“It’s tiny as it is, and there are two beds, the children’s and mine. And now that I’m doing the Bargues, quite big sheets, I couldn’t tell you what a nuisance it is to me. I don’t want to bother the people in their household arrangements.”
He was unable to use the other free room in the house, since it served as the family's laundry room. In October 1880, Vincent left Cuesmes, wanting more space and better light and to meet other artists from whom he could learn. He returned to Brussels, the city where his Belgian adventure had begun a few years before.