Well, he was indeed mentally ill. Just which affliction he had has been debated and cannot be proved. Still, along with some of the most beautiful, stirring artwork ever produced, he also left behind a huge series of letters to his beloved brother Theo. I’m reading Irving Stone’s edited version of the most important of those letters. He could have been a writer. His words are beautiful, as well.
”If one really loves nature, one can find beauty everywhere.”
It has me wishing he’d set the studies aside earlier and began focus on his true love earlier.
Of course, I often wish I’d done the same. I spent too many years not writing when I could have. Now, I’m finding myself pulled in many directions that yank away writing time.
I need more time and more focus for my art. Even if I don’t get more out of it than Van Gogh did during my lifetime, at least it’ll be out there. Maybe some day someone will wish I’d started earlier. Since I can’t do that, I can at least make better use of the time to come, whatever that may be.
I’m also quite grateful to live in a time where people can get mental help if they need it – just in case, you know – and wish they could have helped him at the time.
It’s also comforting to know he had constant doubts about his art. Most artists do, whether or not they are selling. It’s part of an artist’s curse: subjectiveness. There is no way to determine actual quality of art. Some people will detest the same piece others love. I suppose as long as some love it and enjoy it, that needs to be good enough. But a real artist will never accept that. What can you do?
”It is certainly true that it is better to be high-spirited, even though one makes more mistakes, than to be narrow-minded and all too prudent. It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done!”
All quotes taken from Dear Theo: The Autobiography of Vincent van Gogh, Edited by Irving Stone, Plume, 1995.