Dutch Post-Impressionist Painter
Vincent van Gogh, fully Vincent Willem van Gogh
Dutch Post-Impressionist Painter
The way to know life is to love many things.
Those Dutchmen had hardly any imagination or fantasy, but their good taste and their scientific knowledge of composition were enormous.
What am I in most people's eyes? A nonentity or an eccentric and disagreeable man... I should want my work to show what is in the heart of such an eccentric, of such a nobody.
You can't be at the pole and the equator at the same time. You must choose your own line, as I hope to do, and it will probably be color.
The work is an absolute necessity for me. I can't put it off, I don't care for anything but the work; that is to say, the pleasure in something else ceases at once and I become melancholy when I can't go on with my work. Then I feel like a weaver who sees that his threads are tangled, and the pattern he had on the loom is gone to hell, and all his thought and exertion is lost.
Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.
What am I in the eyes of most people — a nonentity, an eccentric, or an unpleasant person — somebody who has no position in society and will never have; in short, the lowest of the low. All right, then — even if that were absolutely true, then I should one day like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, has in his heart. That is my ambition, based less on resentment than on love in spite of everything, based more on a feeling of serenity than on passion. Though I am often in the depths of misery, there is still calmness, pure harmony and music inside me. I see paintings or drawings in the poorest cottages, in the dirtiest corners. And my mind is driven towards these things with an irresistible momentum.
You will say that I am not a success — vaincre or être vaincu, [to conquer or to be conquered], it doesn't matter to me, one has feeling and movement in any event, and they are more akin than they may seem to be or than can be put into words.
The world concerns me only in so far as I have a certain debt and duty to it, because I have lived in it for thirty years and owe to it to leave behind some souvenir in the shape of drawings and paintings – not done to please any particular movement, but within which a genuine human sentiment is expressed.
Though I am often in the depths of misery, there is still calmness, pure harmony and music inside me. I see paintings or drawings in the poorest cottages, in the dirtiest corners. And my mind is driven towards these things with an irresistible momentum.
What can we say if once the hidden forces of sympathy and love have been roused in us?
You write in your letter something which I sometimes feel also: Sometimes I do not know how I shall pull through.
The lamps are burning and the starry sky is over it all.
Then I squeezed roots and trunks into it from the tube, and modelled them a little with the brush. Yes, now they stand in it - shoot up out of it - stand firmly rooted in it.
To believe in God for me is to feel that there is a God, not a dead one, or a stuffed one, but a living one, who with irresistible force urges us towards more loving.
Your profession is not what brings home your paycheck. Your profession is what you were put on earth to do. With such passion and such intensity that it becomes spiritual in calling.
The majority of (painters), because they aren't colorists, do not see yellow, orange or sulphur in the South (of France) and they call a painter mad if he sees with eyes other than theirs
There are colors which cause each other to shine brilliantly, which form a couple which complete each other like man and woman.
To do good work one must eat well, be well housed, have one's fling from time to time, smoke one's pipe, and drink one's coffee in peace.
What has changed is that my life then was less difficult and my future seemingly less gloomy, but as far as my inner self, my way of looking at things and of thinking is concerned, that has not changed. But if there has indeed been a change, then it is that I think, believe and love more seriously now what I thought, believed and loved even then.
The Mediterranean has the color of mackerel, changeable I mean. You don't always know if it is green or violet, you can't even say it's blue, because the next moment the changing reflection has taken on a tint of rose or gray.
There are so many people, especially among our comrades, who imagine that words are nothing – on the contrary, isn't it true that saying a thing well is as interesting and as difficult as painting it?
To exaggerate the fairness of hair, I come even to orange tones, chromes and pale yellow ... I make a plain background of the richest, intensest blue that I can contrive, and by this simple combination of the bright head against the rich blue background, I get a mysterious effect, like a star in the depths of an azure sky.
What I like so much about painting is that with the same amount of trouble which one takes over a drawing, one brings home something that conveys the impression much better and is much more pleasant to look at … it is more gratifying than drawing. But it is absolutely necessary to be able to draw the right proportion and the position of the object pretty correctly before one begins. If one makes mistakes in this, the whole thing comes to nothing.