A Message From an Artist

Between November of 1881 and July of 1890, Vincent van Gogh painted almost 900 paintings. Since his death, he has become one of the most famous painters in the world. Van Gogh’s paintings have captured the minds and

hearts of millions of art lovers and have made art lovers of those new to world of art. The following excerpts are from letters that Van Gogh wrote expressing how he evolved as a painter. There are also links to pages describing some of Vincent van Gogh’s most famous paintings,Starry NightSunflowersIrises,PoppiesThe Bedroom,Blossoming Almond TreeThe Mulberry TreeThe Night Café, and The Potato Eaters, in great detail.

In December of 1881, at the age of 28 just as he began his first paintings Vincent wrote to his brother Theo about becoming a painter,

“Theo, I am so very happy with my paintbox, and I think my getting it now, after having drawn almost exclusively for at least a year, better than if I had started with it immediately…

For, Theo, with painting my real career begins. Don’t you think I am right to consider it so?”

Vincent van Gogh Starry Night Painting


Van Gogh worked at a feverish pace costing him money, causing him mental and physical stress and leaving him no time for any other source of income. But he was persistent. In a letter from March of 1882, Van Gogh wrote again to his brother Theo,

“Although I find myself in financial difficulties, I nevertheless have the feeling that there is nothing more solid than a `handicraft’ in the literal sense of working with one’s hands. If you became a painter, one of the things that would surprise you is that painting and everything connected with it is quite hard work in physical terms. Leaving aside the mental exertion, the hard thought, it demands considerable physical effort, and that day after day.”

In the same letter to Theo from 1882, Van Gogh writes, “There are two ways of thinking about painting, how not to do it and how to do it: how to do it – with much drawing and little colour; how not to do it – with much colour and little drawing.

Van Gogh Sunflowers

Van Gogh firmly believed that to be a great painter you had to first master drawing before adding color. Over the years Van Gogh clearly mastered drawing and began to use more color. In time, one of the most recognizable aspects of Van Gogh’s paintings became his bold use of color. This is evident in both Van Gogh’s landscapes and his still life paintings

About a year before his death Van Gogh predicted that there would be a great “painter of the future” who would know how to use color like no one else and would become the future of painting. He expressed this in a letter to his brother Theo in May of 1888,

“As for me, I shall go on working, and here and there something of my work will prove of lasting value – but who will there be to achieve for figure painting what Claude Monet has achieved for landscape? However, you must feel, as I do, that someone like that is on the way – Rodin? – he does not use colour – it won’t be him. But the painter of the future will bea colourist the like of which has never yet been seen.

Van Gogh Potato Eaters

But I’m sure I am right to think that it will come in a later generation, and it is up to us to do all we can to encourage it, without question or complaint.”

During his lifetime Van Gogh was never famous as a painter and struggled to make a living as an artist. Van Gogh only sold one painting during his lifetime The Red Vineyard. This painting sold in Brussels for 400 Francs only a few months before his death.

Vincent van Gogh died at the age of 37 bringing his career as a painter to an end, but beginning his legacy as the great painter of the future who inspired the world.

About a week after his death, Van Gogh’s brother Theo wrote to his sister Elizabeth about Van Gogh’s legacy as a great artist,

“In the last letter which he wrote me and which dates from some four days before his death, it says, “I try to do as well as certain painters whom I have greatly loved and admired.” People should realize that he was a great artist, something which often coincides with being a great human being. In the course of time this will surely be acknowledged, and many will regret his early death.”

Vincent van Gogh died at the age of 37 bringing his career as a painter to an end, but beginning his legacy as the great painter of the future who inspired the world. Today it remains a mystery as to what Van Gogh’s last painting was before his death. Find out more about which paintings among his final works are considered to be perhaps Vincent van Gogh’s last painting.—excerpted from Van Gogh website


Van Gogh Irises

Van Gogh Irises

still life//Sunflowers

still life//Sunflowers

” Because I have now such a broad, ample feeling for art and for life itself,

of which art is the essence,

the voices of people who try

to constrict me

sound shrill and false.

What I want

and aim at is confoundedly difficult;

yet I do not think I aim too high.

It has always seemed to me that when

an artist shows his work to the public, he has the right to keep to

himself the inward struggle of his

own private life (which is directly and fatally

connected with the peculiar

difficulties involved in producing

a work of art). It is very improper for a

critic to dig up a man’s private life

when his work is above approach.”   —Vincent Van Gogh





I believe that Vincent had two jobs. One was to be the artist he was born to be. The other was to rise above and fight his clinical depression. It has alway been thought that he committed suicide. The he took his easel and paints out to a field. He began to paint and then killed himself. Now, there are sources that believe that he was murdered. Either way, he was too young. Was he happy? I am sure not all of the time, but talent is a great responsibility, In addition to the responsibility, there are always those who have no creative chromasomes and will stand in judgement of an artist’s work. Did the great master’s feel this judgement? Yes. A creative person has more emotions to deal with and often the public is a harsh critic. So if there are times that you love what you have created, don’t listen to the negativity. The world would be poorer, without your creations. No matter what medium you work in (and they all count) you give the world something that no one else can. You give beauty and music and poetry and stories that edify or take people away. Your photograph will freeze a moment and catch it for eternity. It will live longer than you will. That is art. The lasting gifts we leave the world. Be proud, I don’t care if only one person loves your work, then you were born to create that piece for that one person. You were chosen to influence someone for the better. Happy, perhaps. Given an opportunity, yes. So create and be proud. Create and ignore the world. Create and give it to the world.

Stars over the river

Stars over the river

Thank you to every artist who opens him/herself up and pulls out all of that talent and shares it with all of the world. It isn’t easy to do. You do it brilliantly.


15 thoughts on “A Message From an Artist

  1. Jueseppi B. says:

    Reblogged this on The ObamaCrat™.

  2. I didn’t know he’d died so young
    ~ Eric

    • He was so tortured. His brother Theo was the only one to sell his paintings. They didn’t begin to sell until he died. He almost starved to death at times because he had to buy paint. It was expensive then. Each bit mixed for each artist. He had to paint. When I have to paint… I have to. When I have to write, I have to. I am a wreck until I can get it out. Hugs, Barbara

  3. This is a beautifully written piece Barbara and very meaningful for me. thank you. I hope your health is much improved xx

  4. ohnwentsya says:

    Reblogged this on Spirit In Action and commented:
    Thank you for sharing this. You have such a knack for creating posts that inform, inspire and touch the heart.

  5. RoSy says:

    Kinda’ sad when someone gets recognized AFTER their death…

    • Most artists, especially the masters sold only a few paintings during their lifetimes. I know it but truly don’t understand how death makes you art more valuable. Hugs, Barbara

  6. Dani Lynn says:

    He is actually my favorite impressionist. I was happy that I was able to rescue a couple inexpensive print copies of his paintings when my storage unit flooded earlier this month. – Beautiful post.

  7. Gator Woman says:

    And all of my life, my favorite one!

  8. An intriguing and insightful story. Thank you.

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