Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Vincent van Gogh, fully Vincent Willem van Gogh

Dutch Post-Impressionist Painter

"The best way to know God is to love many things."

"It always strikes me, and it is very peculiar, that, whenever we see the image of indescribable and unutterable desolation - of loneliness, poverty, and misery, the end and extreme of things - the thought of God comes into one's mind."

"What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?"

"If one is master of one thing and understands one thing well, one has at the same time, insight into and understanding of many things."

"I always think that the best way to know God is to love many things. Love a friend, a wife, something – whatever you like – you will be on the way to knowing more about Him; that is what I say to myself. But one must love with a lofty and serious intimate sympathy, with strength, with intelligence; and one must always try to know deeper, better, and more. That leads to God, that leads to unwavering faith."

"A good picture is equivalent to a good deed."

"A great fire burns within me, but no one stops to warm themselves at it, and passers-by only see a wisp of smoke"

"A likeness different from the products of the God-fearing photographer."

"A life without love is a sinful and immoral thing."

"Accurate drawing, accurate color, is perhaps not the essential thing to aim at, because the reflection of reality in a mirror, if it could be caught, color and all, would not be a picture at all, no more than a photograph."

"Ah! Portraiture, portraiture with the thought, the soul of the model in it, that is what I think must come."

"A weaver who has to direct and to interweave a great many little threads has no time to philosophize about it, rather, he is so absorbed in his work that he doesn't think, he acts: and it's nothing he can explain, he just feels how things should go."

"Ah, Manet has come very, very close to it and Courbet - the marrying of form and color."

"An artist needn’t be a clergyman or a churchwarden, but he certainly must have a warm heart for his fellow men."

"And when I read, and really I do not read so much, only a few authors, - a few men that I discovered by accident - I do this because they look at things in a broader, milder and more affectionate way than I do, and because they know life better, so that I can learn from them."

"And sometimes there is relief, sometimes there is new inner energy, and one stands up after it; till at last, someday, one perhaps doesn't stand up any more, que soit, but that is nothing extraordinary, and I repeat, in my opinion, such is the common"

"Apart from that, both she and I have grief enough and trouble enough, but as for regrets — neither of us have any. Look here — I believe without question, or have the certain knowledge, that she loves me. I believe without question, or have the certain knowledge, that I love her. It has been sincerely meant. But has it also been foolish, etc? Perhaps, if you like — but aren't the wise ones, those who never do anything foolish, even more foolish in my eyes than I am in theirs?"

"And then, I have nature and art and poetry, and if that is not enough, what is enough?"

"As a painter I shall never signify anything of importance. I feel it absolutely."

"As a suffering creature, I cannot do without something greater than I – something that is my life – the power to create."

"Art demands constant observation."

"As practice makes perfect, I cannot but make progress; each drawing one makes, each study one paints, is a step forward."

"As soon as I have more power over my brush, I shall work even harder than I do now ... it will not be long before you need not send me money anymore."

"At one time, the earth was supposed to be flat. Well, so it is, even today, from Paris to Asnieres. But that fact doesn't prevent science from proving that the earth as a whole is spherical. No one nowadays denies it. Well... we are still at the stage of believing that life itself is flat, the distance from birth to death. Yet the probability is that life, too, is spherical and much more extensive and capacious than the hemisphere we know."

"As we advance in life it becomes more and more difficult, but in fighting the difficulties the inmost strength of the heart is developed."

"Being friends, being brothers, loving, that is what opens the prison, with supreme power, by some magic force. Without these one stays dead. But whenever affection is revived, there life revives."

"But after all I find in my work an echo of what struck me. I see that nature has told me something, has spoken to me, and that I have put it down in shorthand. In my shorthand there may be words that cannot be deciphered. There may be mistakes or gap"

"At present I absolutely want to paint a starry sky. It often seems to me that night is still more richly colored than the day; having hues of the most intense violets, blues and greens. If only you pay attention to it you will see that certain stars are lemon-yellow, others pink or a green, blue and forget-me-not brilliance. And without my expatiating on this theme it is obvious that putting little white dots on the blue-black is not enough to paint a starry sky."

"Be clearly aware of the stars and infinity on high. Then life seems almost enchanted after all."

"But are not this struggle and even the mistakes one may make better, and do they not develop us more, than if we kept systematically away from emotions?"

"But I always think that the best way to know God is to love many things."

"But for one's health as you say, it is very necessary to work in the garden and see the flowers growing."

"But what is your final goal, you may ask. That goal will become clearer, will emerge slowly but surely, much as the rough draught turns into a sketch, and the sketch into a painting through the serious work done on it, through the elaboration of the original vague idea and through the consolidation of the first fleeting and passing thought."

"By working hard, old man, I hope to make something good one day. I haven't yet, but I am pursuing it and fighting for it . . . ."

"But I cannot help thinking that the best way of knowing God is to love many things. Love this friend, this person, this thing, whatever you like, and you will be on the right road to understanding Him better, that is what I keep telling myself. But you must love with a sublime, genuine, profound sympathy, with devotion, with intelligence, and you must try all the time to understand Him more, better and yet more. That will lead to God, that will lead to an unshakeable faith."

"Close friends are truly life's treasures. Sometimes they know us better than we know ourselves. With gentle honesty, they are there to guide and support us, to share our laughter and our tears. Their presence reminds us that we are never really alone."

"Cobalt is a divine color and there is nothing as fine for putting an atmosphere round things. Carmine is the red of wine and is warm and lively like wine. The same goes for emerald green too. It's false economy to dispense with them, with those colors. Cadmium as well."

"Conscience is a man's compass"

"Color in a picture is like enthusiasm in life."

"Don't lose heart if it's very difficult at times, everything will come out all right and nobody can in the beginning do as he wishes."

"Do you know what makes the prison disappear? Every deep, genuine affection. Being friends, being brothers, loving, that is what opens the prison, with supreme power, by some magic force. Without these one stays dead. But whenever affection is revived, there life revives."

"Even the knowledge of my own fallibility cannot keep me from making mistakes. Only when I fall do I get up again."

"Do not quench your inspiration and your imagination; do not become the slave of your model."

"Exaggerate the essential, leave the obvious vague."

"Firmament and planets both disappeared, but the mighty breath which gives life to all things and in which all is bound up remained. [Describing Starry Night]"

"Fishermen know that the sea danger and severe storm, but they did not thinking that never are these dangers sufficient reason to stay on the beach"

"Drawing doctrine requires Matngaha to ignore public opinion."

"For me, the work is an absolute necessity. I cannot put it off; I don't care for anything else; that is to say, the pleasure in something else ceases at once, and I become melancholy when I cannot go on with my work. I feel then as the weaver does when he sees that his threads have got tangled, the pattern he had on the loom has gone to the deuce, and his exertion and deliberation are lost."

"For great things do not done (sic) just happen by impulse but are a succession of small things linked together."

"For my own part, I declare I know nothing whatever about it. But to look at the stars always makes me dream, as simply as I dream over the black dots of a map representing towns and villages. Why, I ask myself, should the shining dots of the sky not be as accessible as the black dots on the map of France? If we take the train to get to Tarascon or Rouen, we take death to reach a star. One thing undoubtedly true in this reasoning is this: that while we are alive we cannot get to a star, any more than when we are dead we can take the train."