vincent willem van gogh Quotes
Vincent Willem Van Gogh Quotes
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- That God of the clergymen, He is for me as dead as a doornail. But am I an atheist for all that? The clergymen consider me as such - be it so; but I love, and how could I feel love if I did not live, and if others did not live, and then, if we live, there is something mysterious in that. Now call that God, or human nature or whatever you like, but there is something which I cannot define systematically, though it is very much alive and very real, and see, that is God, or as good as God. 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 toward aimer encore; that is my opinion.
- I have often neglected my appearance. I admit it, and I also admit that it is 'shocking.' But look here, lack of money and poverty have something to do with it too, as well as a profound disillusionment, and besides, it is sometimes a good way of ensuring the solitude you need, of concentrating more or less on whatever study you are immersed in.
- Now for the past five years or so, I don't know how long exactly, I have been more or less without permanent employment, wandering from pillar to post. You will say, ever since such and such a time you have been going downhill, you have been feeble, you have done nothing. Is that entirely true?
- What is true is that I have at times earned my own crust of bread, and at other times a friend has given it to me out of the goodness of his heart. I have lived whatever way I could, for better or for worse, taking things just as they came. It is true that I have forfeited the trust of various people, it is true that my financial affairs are in a sorry state, it is true that the future looks rather bleak, it is true that I might have done better, it is true that I have wasted time when it comes to earning a living, it is true that my studies are in a fairly lamentable and appalling state, and that my needs are greater, infinitely greater than my resources. But does that mean going downhill and doing nothing?
- I must continue to follow the path I take now. If I do nothing, if I study nothing, if I cease searching, then, woe is me, I am lost. That is how I look at it - keep going, keep going come what may. 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.
- 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.
- Let me stop there, but my God, how beautiful Shakespeare is, who else is as mysterious as he is; his language and method are like a brush trembling with excitement and ecstasy. But one must learn to read, just as one must learn to see and learn to live.
- So please don't think that I am renouncing anything, I am reasonably faithful in my unfaithfulness and though I have changed, I am the same, and what preys on my mind is simply this one question: what am I good for, could I not be of service or use in some way, how can I become more knowledgeable and study some subject or other in depth? That is what keeps preying on my mind, you see, and then one feels imprisoned by poverty, barred from taking part in this or that project and all sorts of necessities are out of one's reach. As a result one cannot rid oneself of melancholy, one feels emptiness where there might have been friendship and sublime and genuine affection, and one feels dreadful disappointment gnawing at one's spiritual energy, fate seems to stand in the way of affection or one feels a wave of disgust welling up inside. And then one says 'How long, my God!'
- Well, right now it seems that things are going very badly for me, have been doing so for some considerable time, and may continue to do so well into the future. But it is possible that everything will get better after it has all seemed to go wrong. I am not counting on it, it may never happen, but if there should be a change for the better I should regard that as a gain, I should rejoice, I should say, at last! So there was something after all!
- I think that everything that is really good and beautiful, the inner, moral, spiritual and sublime beauty in men and their works, comes from God, and everything that is bad and evil in the works of men and in men is not from God, and God does not approve of 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.
- Try to grasp the essence of what the great artists, the serious masters, say in their masterpieces, and you will again find God in them. One man has written or said it in a book, another in a painting.
- The dreamer sometimes falls into the doldrums, but is said to emerge from them again. And the absent-minded person also makes up for it with bouts of perspicacity. Sometimes he is a person whose right to exist has a justification that is not always immediately obvious to you, or more usually, you may absent-mindedly allow it to slip from your mind. Someone who has been wandering about for a long time, tossed to and fro on a stormy sea, will in the end reach his destination. Someone who has seemed to be good for nothing, unable to fill any job, any appointment, will find one in the end and, energetic and capable, will prove himself quite different from what he seemed at first.
- There is a great difference between one idler and another idler. There is someone who is an idler out of laziness and lack of character, owing to the baseness of his nature. If you like, you may take me for one of those. Then there is the other kind of idler, the idler despite himself, who is inwardly consumed by a great longing for action who does nothing because his hands are tied, because he is, so to speak, imprisoned somewhere, because he lacks what he needs to be productive, because disastrous circumstances have brought him forcibly to this end. Such a one does not always know what he can do, but he nevertheless instinctively feels, I am good for something! My existence is not without reason! I know that I could be a quite a different person! How can I be of use, how can I be of service? There is something inside me, but what can it be? He is quite another idler. If you like you may take me for one of those.
- People are often unable to do anything, imprisoned as they are in I don't know what kind of terrible, terrible, oh such terrible cage. I do know that there is a release, the belated release. A justly or unjustly ruined reputation, poverty, disastrous circumstances, misfortune, they all turn you into a prisoner. You cannot always tell what keeps you confined, what immures you, what seems to bury you, and yet you can feel those elusive bars, railings, walls. Is all this illusion, imagination? I don't think so. And then one asks: My God! will it be for long, will it be for ever, will it be for eternity?
- 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.
- Now, there are people who say to me 'Why did you have anything to do with her,' - that's one fact. And there are people who say to her, 'Why did you have anything to do with him,' - that's another fact. 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?
- You will say that I am not a success - vaincre or etre 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.
- Oh, I am no friend of present-day Christianity, though its Founder was sublime - I have seen through present-day Christianity only too well. That icy coldness hypnotized even me, in my youth - but I have taken my revenge since then. How? By worshipping the love which they, the theologians, call sin, by respecting a whore, etc., and not too many would-be respectable, pious ladies. To some, woman is heresy and diabolical. To me she is just the opposite.
- Oh, Theo, why should I change - I used to be very passive and very gentle and quiet - I'm that no longer, but then I'm no longer a child either now - sometimes I feel my own man.
- I tell you, if one wants to be active, one must not be afraid of going wrong, one must not be afraid of making mistakes now and then. Many people think that they will become good just by doing no harm - but that's a lie, and you yourself used to call it that. That way lies stagnation, mediocrity. Just slap anything on when you see a blank canvas staring you in the face like some imbecile. You don't know how paralyzing that is, that stare of a blank canvas is, which says to the painter, You can't do a thing. The canvas has an idiotic stare and mesmerises some painters so much that they turn into idiots themselves. Many painters are afraid in front of the blank canvas, but the blank canvas is afraid of the real, passionate painter who dares and who has broken the spell of 'you can't' once and for all. Life itself, too, is forever turning an infinitely vacant, dispiriting blank side towards man on which nothing appears, any more than it does on a blank canvas. But no matter how vacant and vain, how dead life may appear to be, the man of faith, of energy, of warmth, who knows something, will not be put off so easily. He wades in and does something and stays with it, in short, he violates, 'defiles' - they say. Let them talk, those cold theologians.
- A good picture is equivalent to a good deed.
- 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. Even though neither you nor I would arrive at any definite plans, etc., by talking together perhaps we could mutually strengthen the feeling that something is ripening within us. And that is what I should like...
- 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 gaps, but there is something in it of what wood or beech or figure has told me, and it is not a tame or conventional language, that proceeds not from nature itself but from a studied manner or a system.
- 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.
- Conscience is a man's compass.
- Do not quench your inspiration and your imagination; do not become the slave of your model.
- Even the knowledge of my own fallibility cannot keep me from making mistakes. Only when I fall do I get up again.
- 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.
- Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.
- Happiness... it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.
- How can I be useful, of what service can I be? There is something inside me, what can it be?
- How rich art is; if one can only remember what one has seen, one is never without food for thought or truly lonely, never alone.
- I always think that the best way to know God is to love many things.
- I am not an adventurer by choice but by fate.
- I believe that it may happen that one will succeed, and one must not begin to despair, even though defeated here and there; and even though one sometimes feels a kind of decay, though things go differently from the expected, it is necessary to take heart again and new courage. For the great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together. And great things are not something accidental, but must certainly be willed. What is drawing? How does one learn it? It is working through an invisible iron wall that seems to stand between what one feels and what one can do.
- I can't change the fact that my paintings don't sell. But the time will come when people will recognize that they are worth more than the value of the paints used in the picture.
- I can't work without a model. I won't say I turn my back on nature ruthlessly in order to turn a study into a picture, arranging the colors, enlarging and simplifying; but in the matter of form I am too afraid of departing from the possible and the true.
- I consciously choose the dog's path through life. I shall be poor; I shall be a painter...
- I do not intend to spare myself, not to avoid emotions or difficulties. I don't care much whether I live a longer or shorter time: the world concerns me only in so far as I feel a certain debt toward it, because I have walked on this earth for thirty years, and out of gratitude I want to leave some souvenir.
- I dream my painting, and then I paint my dream.
- I experience a period of frightening clarity in those moments when nature is so beautiful. I am no longer sure of myself, and the paintings appear as in a dream.
- I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.
- I have drawn into myself so much that I literally do not see any other people anymore - excepting the peasants with whom I have direct contact, since I paint them.
- I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.
- I put my heart and my soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process.
- I shot myself ... I only hope I haven't botched it.
- I want to do drawings which touch people...In figure or landscape I should wish to express, not sentimental melancholy, but serious sorrow.
- I wish they would only take me as I am.
- I'm able to get by very well in life, and also with my work, without beloved God. But I, a suffering human being, can not survive without there being something greater than myself, which for me is my whole life- the creative power... I want to paint men and women with that certain eternal touch- an idea which the sacred halo embodied earlier and which we seek to express today through light and the palpitating movement of our colors...The love between a couple is expressed by the unity of two complementary colors, by their mixture and contrasts, by the secretive vibrations of similar tones; the intelligence of a forehead is portrayed by using a light tone on a dark background; hope by a star and a man's passion by a vibrant sunset.
- If boyhood and youth are but vanity, must it not be our ambition to become men?
- If one feels the need of something grand, something infinite, something that makes one feel aware of God, one need not go far to find it. I think that I see something deeper, more infinite, more eternal than the ocean in the expression of the eyes of a little baby when it wakes in the morning and coos or laughs because it sees the sun shining on its cradle.
- 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.
- If one keeps loving faithfully what is really worth loving, and does not waste one's love on insignificant and unworthy and meaningless things, one will get more light by and by and grow stronger. Sometimes it is well to go into the world and converse with people, and at times one is obliged to do so, but he who would prefer to be quietly alone with his work, and who wants but very few friends, will go safest through the world and among people. And even in the most refined circles and with the best surroundings and circumstances, one must keep something of the original character of an anchorite, for other wise one has no root in oneself; one must never let the fire go out in one's soul, but keep it burning. And whoever chooses poverty for himself and loves it possesses a great treasure, and will always clearly hear the voice of his conscience; he who hears and obeys that voice, which is the best gift of God, finds at least a friend in it, and is never alone.
- If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.
- In my painting of the 'All -Night Cafe' I've tried to express the idea that the cafe is a place where one can ruin oneself, become crazy and criminal. Through the contrast of the delicate pink, blood red and dark red, of mild Louis-XV and Veronese green against the yellow-green and stark-blue tones- all this in an atmosphere like the devil's inferno and pale sulphurous yellow...I've tried to convey the sinister power of such a place.
- In spite of everything I shall rise again: I will take up my pencil, which I have forsaken in my great discouragement, and I will go on with my drawing.
- It is a pity that, as one gradually gains experience, one loses one's youth.
- It is better to be high-spirited even though one makes more mistakes, than to be narrow-minded and all to prudent.
- It is not the language of painters but the language of nature which one should listen to. . . . The feeling for the things themselves, for reality, is more important than the feeling for pictures.
- It is only too true that a lot of artists are mentally ill- it's a life which, to put it mildly, makes one an outsider. I'm all right when I completely immerse myself in work, but I'll always remain half crazy.
- It is true that every day has its own evil, and its good too. But how difficult must life be, especially farther on when the evil of each day increases as far as worldly things go, if it is not strengthened and comforted by faith. And in Christ all worldly things may become better, and, as it were, sanctified.
- It may be true that there is no God here, but there must be one not far off, and at such a moment one feels His presence; which comes to the same as saying (and I readily give this sincere profession of faith): I believe in God, and that it is His will that man lives not alone but with a wife and a child, when everything is normal.
- It would be difficult for me to express all my thoughts about it. It remains a constant disappointment to me that my drawings are not yet what I want them to be. The difficulties are indeed numerous and great, and cannot be overcome immediately. Making progress is like miners' work: it doesn't advance as quickly as one should like, and also as others expect; but faced with such a task, patience and faithfulness are essential. In fact, I don't think much about the difficulties, because if one thought of them too much, one would get dazed or confused.
- Keep your love of nature, for that is the true way to understand art more and more.
- Look here, I often feel the same in more than one respect - not just in financial things, but in art itself, and in life in general. But do you think it's anything exceptional? Don't you think every man with a little spirit and energy has those moments? Moments of melancholy, of distress, of anguish - I think we all have them to a greater or lesser extent, and it is a condition of every conscious human life. It seems that some people have no consciousness of self. But for all that, those who have it may sometimes be in distress, they are not unhappy, nor is the distress anything exceptional.
- Love always brings difficulties, that is true, but the good side of it is that it gives energy.
- 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 done well.
- Now it so happens in the world that opposed to characters of such persons as he there are characters like mine, for instance. I care as little for the world's opinion as that man cared for what was right. To appear right was enough for him; what I think the most important is not to deceive or desert a woman.
- Now since I have seen the ocean with my own eyes, I feel completely how important it is for me to stay in the south and to experience the color which must be carried to the uttermost - it is not far to Africa.
- Of course my moods change, but the average is serenity. I have a firm faith in art, a firm confidence in its being a powerful stream which carries a man to a harbor, though he himself must do his bit too; at all events, I think it such a great blessing when a man has found his work that I cannot count myself among the unfortunate. I mean, I may be in certain relatively great difficulties, and there may be gloomy days in my life, but I shouldn't like to be counted among the unfortunate, nor would it be correct if I were.
- One may have a blazing hearth in one's soul and yet no one ever came to sit by it. Passers-by see only a wisp of smoke from the chimney and continue on their way.
- One must work and dare if one really wants to live.
- One wants to be an honest man; one is so, one works hard; but still one cannot make both ends meet; on must give up the work, there is no chance of carrying it out without spending more on it than one gets back for it; one gets a feeling of shortcoming, of not keeping one's promises. One is afraid of making friends; like an old leper, one would like to call from afar: Don't come too near me, for intercourse with me brings you sorrow and loss. One cannot present oneself as somebody who comes to propose a good business or who has a plan which will bring great profit. On the contrary, it is clear that it will end with a deficit, and still one feels a power surging within; one has work to do and it must be done. One must set to work with a calm, everyday face, live one's ordinary life, get along with the models, with the man who comes for the rent, with everybody, in fact. You must not think of me as afraid.
- Our greatest glory consists not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall.
- Paintings have a life of their own that derives from the painter's soul.
- Perhaps it will seem to you that the sunshine is brighter and that everything has a new charm. At least, I believe this is always the result of a deep love, and it is a beautiful thing. And I believe people who think love prevents one from thinking clearly are wrong; for then one thinks very clearly and is more active than before. And love is something eternal - the aspect may change, but not the essence. There is the same difference in a person before and after he is in love as there is in an unlighted lamp and one that is burning. The lamp was there and it was a good lamp, but now it is shedding light too, and that is its real function. And love makes one calmer about many things, and in that way, one is more fit for one's work.
- Poetry surrounds us everywhere, but putting it on paper is, alas, not so easy as looking at it.
- Shouldn't the shining dots of the sky be as accessible as the black dots on the map of France?
- 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 human fate.
- Thank God, I have my work, but instead of earning money by it, I need money to be able to work; that is the difficulty. I think there are no signs in my work that indicate that I shall fail. And I am not a person who works slowly or tamely. Drawing becomes a passion with me, and I throw myself into it more and more. I do not have great plans for the future; if for a moment I feel rising within me the desire for a life without care, for prosperity, each time I go fondly back to the trouble and the cares, to a life full of hardship, and think: It is better so; I learn more from it, and make progress. This is not the road on which one perishes. I only hope the trouble and the cares will not become unbearable, and I have confidence I shall succeed in earning enough to keep myself, not in luxury, but as one who eats his bread in the sweat of his brow.
- 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.
- The more I think about it, the more I realize there is nothing more artistic than to love others.
- The more ugly, older, more cantankerous, more ill and poorer I become, the more I try to make amends by making my colours more vibrant, more balanced and beaming.
- The only time I feel alive is when I'm painting.
- The painter of the future will be a colorist, such as has never yet existed. Manet was working towards it, but as you know the Impressionists have already got a stronger color than Manet. This painter of the future- I can't imagine him doing the rounds of the local dives, having false teeth and frequenting the Zouave brothel like me.
- 'There are things which we feel to be good and true, though in the cold light of reason and calculation many things remain incomprehensible and dark. And though the society in which we live considers such actions thoughtless, or reckless, or I don't know what else, what can we say if once the hidden forces of sympathy and love have been roused in us? And though it may be that we cannot argue against the reasoning sentiment and to act from impulse, one would almost conclude that some people have cauterized certain sensitive nerves within them, especially those which, combined, are called conscience. Well, I pity those people; they travel through life without compass, in my opinion.
- There is no blue without yellow and without orange.
- There may be a time in life when one is tired of everything and feels as if all one does is wrong, and there maybe some truth in it - do you think this is a feeling one must try to forget and to banish, or is it 'the longing for God,' which one must not fear, but cherish to see if it may bring us some good? Is it 'the longing for God' which leads us to make a choice which we never regret? Let us keep courage and try to be patient and gentle. And not mind being eccentric, and make distinction between good and evil.
- What a splendid thing watercolour is to express atmosphere and distance, so that the figure is surrounded by air and can breathe in it.
- 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.
- What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?
- When I have a terrible need of - shall I say the word - religion. Then I go out and paint the stars.
- When we are working at a difficult task and strive after a good thing, we are fighting a righteous battle, the direct reward of which is that we are kept from much evil. As we advance in life it becomes more and more difficult, but in fighting the difficulties the inmost strength of the heart is developed.
- You will say that everyone has seen landscapes and figures from childhood on. The question is: Has everybody also been reflexive as a child? Has everybody who has seen them also loved heath, fields, meadows, woods, and the snow and the rain and the storm? Not everybody has done that as you and I have; it is a peculiar kind of surroundings and circumstances that must contribute to such knowledge of nature; it is a peculiar kind of temperament and character, too, that must help to make it take root.
- You write in your letter something which I sometimes feel also: Sometimes I do not know how I shall pull through.
- The sadness will last forever. (on his deathbed)
- The thing has already taken form in my mind before I start it. The first attempts are absolutely unbearable. I say this because I want you to know that if you see something worthwhile in what I am doing, it is not by accident but because of real direction and purpose.
- In my yellow room, sunflowers with purple eyes stand out against a yellow background; the ends of their stalks bathe in a yellow pot on a yellow table. In one corner of the painting, the painter's signature: Vincent. And the yellow sun, coming through the yellow curtains of my room, floods all this flowering with gold, and in the morning, when I wake up in my bed, I have the impression that it all smells very good. Oh yes! he loved yellow, did good Vincent, the painter from Holland, gleams of sunlight warming his soul, which detested fog. A craving for warmth. When the two of us were together in Arles, both of us insane, and constantly at war over beautiful colors, I adored red; where could I find a perfect vermilion? He, taking his yellowest brush, wrote on the suddenly purple wall: I am of sound mind, I am the Holy Ghost.
- Starry starry night, paint your palette blue and grey Look out on a summer's day with eyes that know the darkness in my soul Shadows on the hills, sketch the trees and the daffodils Catch the breeze and the winter chills, in colors on the snowy linen land.
- Now I understand what you tried to say to me How you suffered for you sanity How you tried to set them free They would not listen they did not know how, perhaps they'll listen now.
- Weathered faces lined in pain are soothed beneath the artist's loving hand.
- For they could not love you, but still your love was true And when no hope was left in sight, on that starry starry night You took your life as lovers often do, But I could have told you, Vincent, This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you.
- Starry, starry night, portraits hung in empty halls Frameless heads on nameless walls with eyes that watch the world and can't forget. Like the stranger that you've met, the ragged man in ragged clothes The silver thorn of bloody rose, lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow.
- Now I think I know what you tried to say to me How you suffered for you sanity How you tried to set them free They would not listen they're not listening still... Perhaps they never will...
vincent willem van gogh
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