“One must work and dare if one really wants to live”- Vincent Van Gogh
The first piece of art that I remember finding beautiful was Van Gogh’s “Wheat field with Crows” which he painted in June 1890, a month before his death. As a child I had no idea who had painted it or what their life had been like; all I remember growing up was looking at it every day and thinking how beautiful it was. Something in it made me feel so strongly that it connected me more to the world somehow. I think that my experience is probably the best first experience a person could ever have with art.
I think anyone who has a taste for the arts of any kind (and I’m sure that is everyone in one way or the other) has a similar story to mine when they were a kid; all of a sudden, you see something and just think that there is nothing else like it in the whole world. It makes you feel things that you haven’t before; you can never shake it, no matter what form that piece of art takes. It could be that you saw “The Nutcracker” for the first time on Christmas or read the first chapter of “Harry Potter” during your childhood, but whatever it was, you just couldn’t ignore how much it amazed you.
As I got older, I started to look into Van Gogh’s paintings and his history; he even has an episode of “Doctor Who” (my favorite TV show) that made me cry for no reason except for the fact that I felt so attached to his artwork. To me, Van Gogh portrays the deepest of human emotions in a way that no one else ever has. Just this last summer, I finally got to see his painting “Entrance to the Public Garden at Arles” at the Kimbell Art Museum in Texas and I cried on the spot. Everything he painted was so mundane and simple, but the he had a way of making a person feel differently about these mundane scenes that’s difficult to explain, or to imitate.
This is one of the reasons people revere his work; the brush strokes, the colors, and the subject all reflect some kind of emotion that make you notice beauty in the fiercest of ways. This ability must be one of the reasons why impressionists are called that: because they leave an impression.
But what really makes me love Vincent and his work is everything that lies underneath. If anyone knows anything about his life, they know that it was filled with struggles, especially when it came to mental illness. Van Gogh went through various forms of therapy with different doctors to try and help him, but he was still left on the outskirts of society. It also didn’t help that he was an alcoholic; drinking being a way for him to manage his pain, I’m sure. Van Gogh loved art, but during his lifetime he was scoffed at and was told his paintings were worthless because his style differentiated from “the classics”. Just like most new forms of art (or anything really) people didn’t like it because it is unfamiliar to them, not because it had no value or because it wasn’t wonderful.
In current times, Vincent Van Gogh is considered one of the greatest painters to ever live. People love him for his use of color and brush stroke, and his personal perspective on the world around him, and especially for his eye for beauty in the ordinary. His art impacts millions of people; including me.
I’m sure you’re probably asking yourself why I’m going on about this (like you do during most of my posts) but, as usual, I do have a point.
Van Gogh never stopped doing what he loved because people didn’t agree with him and he never let fear of disapproval stop him. He translated his personal anguish into something that was truly beautiful. I admire him so much because of this strength despite hardship. I wanted to write about him because I learned to do the same thing during my times of struggle from him. Instead of wallowing in despair, I used it to fuel something beautiful. Instead of painting (I wish I could but I don’t have the patience) I wrote. What I took away from his artwork was that just because you’re going through something hard, it doesn’t mean that you can’t create something to make the world a better place. Even if things seem impossible, if you keep following your purpose, then no matter the outcome, you will leave an impact on this Earth.
You can be fulfilled in life once you start living without fear.
And yes, although Van Gogh’s life ended in tragedy, he still changed the life of so many people and perhaps even art itself. Even though it wasn’t his intention to do so, because he lived his life fulfilling his purpose, it happened.
That’s the takeaway that I want you to have; even though you may not see it now, finding and living your true purpose is worth it. No matter what that purpose is, it can change the world; even if it’s just changing one small part of it. Or if it just changes you. I want you to never be afraid to live up to your potential and follow your heart because no matter what, the out come will always be worth it. I don’t want the struggles and hardships that come into your life to define every aspect of it. I want you to remember that even the darkest times can be translated into something else.
And whatever that is, it will be beautiful.
Over and Out,