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SUICIDE ANNIVERSARY

Hello Friends,

I don’t normally do this, but today I was reminded that last year on this day, my brother committed suicide.  So I am going to re-post the post I wrote last year for any who may have never seen it.

May is Mental Health Awareness month.  If you are feeling lonely, discouraged, or severely depressed, call someone…please.

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug!  🙂

 

Hello Friends,

I have been feeling a little reluctant to write about this, but honestly, I don’t see how I can NOT write about it.  This will be long; bear with me, please.

On the morning of May 5th, 2017, I learned that one of my brothers committed suicide on May 4th. In a way, I wasn’t surprised when I thought back on the last time I had spoken with him.  He called me out of the blue about a month before this and asked me if I knew where his daughter was.  I thought this was a strange question since I have not seen her since she was three years old!  She and her mom left California in the early ’80’s when her mom and my brother divorced.  Anyway, I asked him why he needed to find her.  I asked him if he was sick.  He said he wasn’t sick, but he couldn’t hardly walk anymore. He said he wanted her to be able to have all of his part of the financial investments that our parents left us “just in case something happens to me.”  In the back of my mind I had a flash of what he may have been planning.  However, I did not ask him if he was feeling suicidal.  I wish I had.   I was actually surprised that he even called me.

My brother and I had a very rocky relationship for most of our lives.  I never really understood why.  I am the youngest.  He was the middle sibling.  We were four and a half years apart.  He would have been 61 this July.  He always seemed closer to our other brother.  However, throughout our lives we all really went our separate ways.  The closest I ever felt to either of them was when we went through the death of our mother in 2006.  Our father died three years later.  So our eldest brother had to handle all of the inheritance stuff.  It was a very stressful time for all of us.  Since then, we have all lived separately; my oldest brother left the area and my other brother and I never knew where he was until about three years ago.

That was when my middle brother decided to call me and apologize for everything he had ever done to hurt me.  He was crying and truly sorry.  This was something I had been praying for since 1987 when God had turned my life around.  I had tried many times to make amends with him, but he was just not ready.  Needless to say, I was thankful for that call.  I told him I had forgiven him many years ago and had been praying we might be able to have that conversation someday.  I told him I had always wanted to know him and I loved him.  I asked him if we could just start to have a relationship then, but he said he didn’t want to.  He was addicted to drugs and couldn’t get clean.  He was living in a trailer park where he had been for the last 20 years.  He didn’t know how to change, and he didn’t ask anyone for help that I know of.  I felt helpless, but I let him be.  I called him a few times just to see how he was doing, but he just didn’t know how to connect with me.

I believe he suffered from mental illness his whole life; most likely anxiety and depression, just as I have since I was at least 15.  Looking back on my childhood, I now believe my dad suffered from depression and this was why he drank.  I also think my mom had anxiety issues not just because of his drinking, but because of her own chemical make-up.  She was always worrying about everything and everyone.

I went through my drug and alcohol abuse days from about 1980 to 1987.  That was the year I quit everything and got help through counseling and an ACA (adult children of alcoholics) meeting every week for a couple of years. However, both of my brothers kept using drugs and alcohol for the rest of their lives.  My brother who died was hurt on a job many years ago and was getting pain medicine through the veterans hospital.  He was in the Navy for four years when he was right out of high school.   Apparently, though, his back became so bad, he could hardly walk anymore.  I believe that he just chose to die to escape the pain that was consuming him.

I have been that low many, many times myself emotionally.  However, I am thankful to have a loving husband and two children who love me and would never ever want me to make that choice just to escape any pain I may go through in my life.  It doesn’t solve anything, and it leaves those whom the person left behind in shock, angry, and sad.

When I learned of my brother’s suicide, I was definitely shocked.  Then I was angry for a few days. Then I had to begin dealing with the aftermath of what would happen to him and his stuff.  At the time I didn’t have a clue as to where his daughter was.  Then his best friend found my brother’s ex-wife’s phone number.  She was contacted and then my niece was.  Yesterday I spent most of the day on the phone with my 37-year-old niece whom I do not even know.  It was strange, but good.

Hopefully, just getting in touch with her will be the blessing that comes out of his sad choice.  My brother and his daughter were estranged from each other for most of their lives as well.  I always felt sad about that, but hopefully she and I can build a relationship with one another now even though we live very far apart.

To this day I have no clue as to where my other brother lives.  We became estranged after our parents were both gone eight years ago.  He left the area and has never wanted to come back. However, our brother who died did have a best friend who knew where our oldest brother was.  So the same month that my brother called and apologized to me, he also went and found our other brother to make amends with him as well.  However, I have no way to find our eldest brother to try and do the same.  He is living off the grid which is what he always wanted.

I know this has been a very long post; if you stayed with me, thank you.  I wrote this to encourage anyone who is thinking about suicide or knows anyone who is, to tell you to please reach out for help.  There is lots of help to be found!  First, try to talk to someone you know.  If that doesn’t help, call a local suicide hotline.  Or call 1-800-273-8255.  This is the number for Suicide Prevention Services of America.  Their website is http://www.spsamerica.org if you want more information.  I have never used their services, but I am sure there would be someone there to talk to.

Well, friends, I am definitely going to be reaching out for some help myself in dealing with this.  I have talked with someone locally whom I am planning to meet this afternoon.  Perhaps this is going to be the start of something good.

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug!  🙂

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SUICIDE: Don’t Make That Choice!

Hello Friends,

I have been feeling a little reluctant to write about this, but honestly, I don’t see how I can NOT write about it.  This will be long; bear with me, please.

On the morning of May 5th, I learned that one of my brothers committed suicide on May 4th.  In a way, I wasn’t surprised when I thought back on the last time I had spoken with him.  He called me out of the blue about a month before this and asked me if I knew where his daughter was.  I thought this was a strange question since I have not seen her since she was three years old!  She and her mom left California in the early ’80’s when her mom and my brother divorced.  Anyway, I asked him why he needed to find her.  I asked him if he was sick.  He said he wasn’t sick, but he couldn’t hardly walk anymore. He said he wanted her to be able to have all of his part of the financial investments that our parents left us “just in case something happens to me.”  In the back of my mind I had a flash of what he may have been planning.  However, I did not ask him if he was feeling suicidal.  I wish I had.   I was actually surprised that he even called me.

My brother and I had a very rocky relationship for most of our lives.  I never really understood why.  I am the youngest.  He was the middle sibling.  We were four and a half years apart.  He would have been 61 this July.  He always seemed closer to our other brother.  However, throughout our lives we all really went our separate ways.  The closest I ever felt to either of them was when we went through the death of our mother in 2006.  Our father died three years later.  So our eldest brother had to handle all of the inheritance stuff.  It was a very stressful time for all of us.  Since then, we have all lived separately; my oldest brother left the area and my other brother and I never knew where he was until about three years ago.

That was when my middle brother decided to call me and apologize for everything he had ever done to hurt me.  He was crying and truly sorry.  This was something I had been praying for since 1987 when God had turned my life around.  I had tried many times to make amends with him, but he was just not ready.  Needless to say, I was thankful for that call.  I told him I had forgiven him many years ago and had been praying we might be able to have that conversation someday.  I told him I had always wanted to know him and I loved him.  I asked him if we could just start to have a relationship then, but he said he didn’t want to.  He was addicted to drugs and couldn’t get clean.  He was living in a trailer park where he had been for the last 20 years.  He didn’t know how to change, and he didn’t ask anyone for help that I know of.  I felt helpless, but I let him be.  I called him a few times just to see how he was doing, but he just didn’t know how to connect with me.

I believe he suffered from mental illness his whole life; most likely anxiety and depression, just as I have since I was at least 15.  Looking back on my childhood, I now believe my dad suffered from depression and this was why he drank.  I also think my mom had anxiety issues not just because of his drinking, but because of her own chemical make-up.  She was always worrying about everything and everyone.

I went through my drug and alcohol abuse days from about 1980 to 1987.  That was the year I quit everything and got help through counseling and an ACA (adult children of alcoholics) meeting every week for a couple of years. However, both of my brothers kept using drugs and alcohol for the rest of their lives.  My brother who died was hurt on a job many years ago and was getting pain medicine through the veterans hospital.  He was in the Navy for four years when he was right out of high school.   Apparently, though, his back became so bad, he could hardly walk anymore.  I believe that he just chose to die to escape the pain that was consuming him.

I have been that low many, many times myself emotionally.  However, I am thankful to have a loving husband and two children who love me and would never ever want me to make that choice just to escape any pain I may go through in my life.  It doesn’t solve anything, and it leaves those whom the person left behind in shock, angry, and sad.

When I learned of my brother’s suicide, I was definitely shocked.  Then I was angry for a few days.  Then I had to begin dealing with the aftermath of what would happen to him and his stuff.  At the time I didn’t have a clue as to where his daughter was.  Then his best friend found my brother’s ex-wife’s phone number.  She was contacted and then my niece was.  Yesterday I spent most of the day on the phone with my 37-year-old niece whom I do not even know.  It was strange, but good.

Hopefully, just getting in touch with her will be the blessing that comes out of his sad choice.  My brother and his daughter were estranged from each other for most of their lives as well.  I always felt sad about that, but hopefully she and I can build a relationship with one another now even though we live very far apart.

To this day I have no clue as to where my other brother lives.  We became estranged after our parents were both gone eight years ago.  He left the area and has never wanted to come back.  However, our brother who died did have a best friend who knew where our oldest brother was.  So the same month that my brother called and apologized to me, he also went and found our other brother to make amends with him as well.  However, I have no way to find our eldest brother to try and do the same.  He is living off the grid which is what he always wanted.

I know this has been a very long post; if you stayed with me, thank you.  I wrote this to encourage anyone who is thinking about suicide or knows anyone who is, to tell you to please reach out for help.  There is lots of help to be found!  First, try to talk to someone you know.  If that doesn’t help, call a local suicide hotline.  Or call 1-800-273-8255.  This is the number for Suicide Prevention Services of America.  Their website is http://www.spsamerica.org if you want more information.  I have never used their services, but I am sure there would be someone there to talk to.

Well, friends, I am definitely going to be reaching out for some help myself in dealing with this.  I have talked with someone locally whom I am planning to meet this afternoon.  Perhaps this is going to be the start of something good.

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug!  🙂

Vincent van Gogh’s Self-Portraits

Hello friends!

I wanted to share with you something that I found on Amazon.com for 94 cents!!!  It is a hard cover book called “Vincent – The Complete Self-Portraits – All of Vincent van Gogh’s Self-Portraits, with Excerpts from His Writings” by Bernard Denvir.  It was published in 1994.

vincent-book

The writer points out that Vincent “painted more than forty self-portraits” in a span of only four years “between 1885 and 1889.”  This really amazes me!  That, to me, is a lot of work in the area of portraiture painting.  I have done very few portraits and they have all been done from photos.  Also, I have not attempted a self-portrait…yet.

It is understandable that Vincent did so many self-portraits in such a short span of time.  He was practicing because he expressed to his brother Theo in his letters that he wanted to try and learn how to paint portraits well so he could earn an income.  He didn’t like being financially dependent on his brother Theo, but that is what happened for most of his adult life especially in his last years.  He did his last self-portrait in 1889, then died in 1890.

In my humble opinion I think Vincent van Gogh was much more handsome than he ever painted himself to look.  Perhaps this was because of his mental illness and he painted himself the way he FELT about himself more so than the way he actually SAW his physical self.  I don’t presume to know his thoughts.  However, his letters do indicate that he did focus on his feelings a great deal in regards to his art.  He felt things very deeply and had a sensitivity about him that really came out in the people he sketched as well as all of his other art.

In the book I mentioned there is a painting of Vincent that was done by John Peter Russell in Paris in 1886.  It is a striking portrait of Vincent which I think captures the depths of his soul in his eyes.  Isn’t it beautiful?

vincents-portrait-by-john-peter-russell

I really love this portrait of Vincent.  I love many of his self-portraits as well, but this one I think portrays him in a way that I want to ask him, “what were you thinking about while you were posing?”

I hope you still enjoy these posts about Vincent van Gogh that I make occasionally.  I feel like I can just never learn enough from this deep-thinker about life and art.

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug!  🙂

P.S.  I am still painting the Dungeons & Dragons miniatures, and have been getting back to experimenting with Sumi-E painting.  I will show you what I’ve done in upcoming posts!

Vincent’s Thoughts on Colour

Hello friends,

I can’t believe it is February already!  This morning I was doing some more reading in a couple of books I have about Vincent van Gogh.  I found his letter #252 from The Hague, dated Monday, July 31, 1882, to his brother Theo very interesting.  In a great part of it he is relating his findings about color theory!  He enclosed this drawing he did which was called “Pollard Willow” and evidently was done in watercolors.

vincents-pollard-willow

And here are Vincent’s thoughts on color theory!  I hope you enjoy them!

“As regards black in nature, we are of course in complete agreement, as I understand it.  Absolutely black doesn’t in fact occur.  Like white, however, it’s present in almost every colour and forms the endless variety of greys – distinct in tone and strength.  So that in nature one in fact sees nothing but these tones or strength.

The 3 fundamental colours are red, yellow, blue, the 3 composite colours are orange, green, purple.  From these are obtained the endless variations of grey by adding black and some white – red-grey, yellow-grey, blue-grey, green-grey, orange-grey, violet-grey.

It’s impossible to say how many different green-greys there are for example – the variation is infinite.

But the whole chemistry of colours is no more complicated than those simple few fundamentals.  And a good understanding of them is worth more than 70 different shades of paint – given that more than 70 tones and strengths can be made with the 3 primary colours and white and black.  The colourist is he who on seeing a colour in nature is able to analyze coolly and say, for example, that green-grey is yellow with black and almost no blue, etc.  In short, knowing how to make up the greys of nature on the palette.”

“I also have nothing against making watercolours – but they’re founded on drawing first, and then from the drawing springs not only the watercolour but all kinds of other shoots that will develop in due course in me as in anyone else working with love.”

Then referring back to the Pollard Willow drawing above, he says:

“Where the black is darkest in this little sketch is where the greatest strengths are in the watercolour – dark green, brown, and dark grey.”

I thought this was a great reminder that color mixing can be fun!  I enjoy it.  I don’t always consciously think about how what I mix will turn out, but I am forever learning.  Sometimes I get impatient looking through my box of watercolors for the color or shade I want at the moment.  Perhaps it is time to go back to the basics of color mixing and re-learn some things afresh!  Especially mixing for blacks!  I am finding I don’t really care for using blacks straight out of the tube anymore.

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug!  🙂

 

Vincent’s Self-Reflections

van-gogh-straw-hat-portrait

Self-portrait with Straw Hat, 1887, Vincent van Gogh

Hello everyone.  Today I want to get away from sharing just myself and back to my very favorite artist, Vincent van Gogh, to share with you some excerpts from one of his letters that is in my GIANT book of his letters!  I am going to write some quotes here from the letter, and then say a few words of my own.    This self-portrait of him in his straw hat is my very favorite self-portrait painting that he ever did.  Thanks for reading!

Letter #249/The Hague, on or about Friday, 21 July 1882/To Theo van Gogh (D)

“Today I made an agreement with myself, which was to regard my illness, or rather what’s left of it, as non-existent.  Enough time has been lost, the work must be carried on.”

“So, well, or not well, I’m going to draw again regularly from morning till evening.  I don’t want anyone else to be able to say, ‘Oh, those are only old drawings.'”

“My hands have become rather whiter than I care for, but what can I do about it?  I’ll also go outdoors again.  It matters less to me that it may strike me down than that I’m kept longer from my work.  Art is jealous; she won’t allow illness to be placed above her, so I’ll let her have her way.” 

“People like me aren’t allowed to be ill.  You must really understand how I regard art.  One must work long and hard to arrive at the truthful.  What I want and set as my goal is damned difficult, and yet I don’t believe I’m aiming too high.  I want to make drawings that move some people…contain something straight from my own feelings.”

“In short, I want to reach the point where people say of my work, ‘that man feels deeply and that man feels sublty.’  Despite my so-called coarseness – you understand – perhaps, precisely because of it.  It seems pretentious to talk like this now, but that’s why I want to push on.”

“What am I in the eyes of most people?  A nonentity or an oddity or a disagreeable person – someone who has and will have no position in society, in short a little lower than the lowest.”

“Very well – assuming that everything is indeed like that, when through my work I’d like to show what there is in the heart of such an oddity, such a nobody.”

 

I am amazed that some people wrote such long letters back then!  However, it was there only way to communicate long-distance so they really had no other choice like we do today.  Personally, I love handwritten letters and cards that I get in the mail.

These excerpts from Vincent’s letter to Theo are over 300 words, but there are at lease 300 MORE words to this letter!  Amazing, huh?

As you can see in this letter, Vincent was trying to carry on his work and put his mental illness behind him.  Even though he was allowed to do some art in the asylum he was admitted to, he didn’t feel free.  When he got out, he went to work immediately.  I think he conveys that he was trying to make up for lost time.

What I admire about Vincent most is his determination to leave his mark on the world, but it still saddens me that he never felt accepted or praised for his work by other artists and felt like such an outcast in society.  He wanted to express “deep sorrow” in his work, no doubt from the pain he was feeling about where he was in life but also the enormous compassion in his heart for others who were also considered to be “lower than the lowest.”

I have been where he was at many times in my life and even since I began learning to draw and paint over ten years ago.  I can identify with many of his thoughts and feelings.  I wish I could have known Vincent van Gogh as a friend; I think we would have been kindred spirits.  Kindred spirits are not always easy to find in life.  I am glad I have the good fortune to have several in my life.

If you made it through this post, thanks for taking the time to read.  What do you think about Vincent?

 

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug!  🙂

P. S. (Hopefully tomorrow I will have a picture of the portrait of Mary I’m doing!)

 

Vincent van Gogh Quote: Letter #220

Hello friends.  Today I decided to get back to the wonderful Mother’s Day gift my family gave me last year:  the book called “Vincent van Gogh, Ever Yours, The Essential Letters.”

I was reading letter #220 which was written on April 23, 1882 by Vincent to his brother, Theo van Gogh.

In this letter Vincent is writing to Theo about his sketch “Men Digging” that he enclosed with the letter.  Here it is:

Vincent's Men Digging

“Men Digging” by Vincent van Gogh

He has told Theo about Tersteeg’s (the manager of Goupil in The Hague whom Vincent was well-acquainted with) discouraging comments to him reminding Vincent of past failures.  I found Vincent’s thoughts provoking and humorous.  This is what he had to say:

“It’s precisely because I have a draughtsman’s fist that I can’t keep myself from drawing and, I ask you, have I ever doubted or hesitated or wavered since the day I began to draw?  I think you know very well that I’ve hacked my way through and am obviously ever more keen to do battle.

Coming back to that little sketch – it was made in the Geest district in the drizzle, standing in a street in the mud, in all that bustle and noise, and I’m sending it to show you that my sketchbook proves that I try to capture things first-hand.  Put Iterson or H.G.T. himself, for example, in front of a sandpit in the Geest district where the dredgers are at work laying a water or gas pipe – I’d like to see the kind of face someone like that would pull and what kind of sketch he’d make.  Struggling on wharves and in alleys and streets and inside houses, waiting rooms, even public houses, that’s not a nice job, unless one is an artist. (Emphasis his.) As such one would rather be in the filthiest neighbourhood, provided there’s something to draw, than at a tea party with nice ladies.  Unless one draws ladies, in which case a tea party is nice even for an artist.”

I love Vincent’s humor!  Well, getting to the issue of drawing from life, back in May and today I tried to draw my hand.  This is the one from last year.  My Hand drawing in May 2015

This is the one from today along with some thoughts I had about Vincent’s drawing from life.  (I hope you can read my writing!)

My Hand and Thoughts March 2016

 

Drawing from life is not something I do a lot of.  I mostly draw from photos I have taken or practice things from others’ illustrations, etc.  I don’t have the greatest long distance vision so working outside like Vincent and most plein air painters of his time has never really appealed to me.  I have done it, but it frustrates me.

So these are just some thoughts I wanted to share today.  To close I am putting in one of Vincent’s drawing of hands.  Amazing, huh?  I really have a lot to learn!

Vincent's study of three hands

“Study of Three Hands” by Vincent van Gogh

 

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug!  🙂

Art, Life and Physical Therapy

Hello everyone! It seems like it has been forever since I’ve been able to post anything new! I have missed my WordPress friends so much over the last month. Unfortunately, I still haven’t done much art lately because of my shoulder, however, I have drawn a couple of small dragons which I hope to post soon.

I am back in physical therapy but only once a week because of my crazy schedule these days. My physical therapist gives me plenty to do in between sessions, though. He knows I will faithfully do the exercises. The problem they found on the MRI I had done is that there is a lot of calcium build-up in the front of my shoulder. But the good news is that I don’t need surgery…yet. The doctor is hoping the physical therapy will be able to hold that off for quite some time like it did before. I am, too!

MEET LUKE WILSON. HE IS MY PHYSICAL THERAPIST. Shasta Orthopedics’s physical therapists are all wonderful, kind, and funny people. I really have missed going there, but I will be glad when I don’t HAVE to any more, too.

Luke

One thing that has been a benefit of my daughter’s new school schedule is that I actually get to the gym four days a week now! Sometimes I can’t go on the day I have physical therapy, though, depending on the slot I get. I am also able to exercise more at home now since replacing my stationary bike with a really good used one I bought a while back. I have all my rubber band thingies that I use for my shoulder exercises there, too, and my light weights, etc. So I have been trying to work out at home the rest of the days. I have to force myself sometimes, though, because there’s other stuff I’d rather do like read or eat!

I was talking with someone today about the fact that the only time in my whole life that I can remember I ever had a schedule that included consistent exercise was when I lived in Georgia from ages zero to 10! We had a close-by public pool, a ballpark where I played softball and did cheer leading, and of course P.E. at school. After that it was just P.E. at school until I graduated. Or riding bikes after school and roller skating on weekends, but once I became an adult, I never really found a sport I liked to play. I worked various jobs until I worked eight years at a newspaper. That is when my life became very sedentary. So I have struggled to get a consistent exercise routine incorporated into my life ever since.

I think staying physically active is very important for me especially since when I am not physically or creatively active, I have a tendency to become depressed. And that sucks! So……here and now I am deciding that I can’t allow myself to fall back into that sedentary lifestyle. I like to do art, write, and stay in shape. I know these are all things I NEED to be doing. I want remembering to exercise to become like remembering to brush my teeth!

As they say….today is the first day of the rest of my life!

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug! 🙂

Van Gogh’s copy of Delacroix’s “The Good Samaritan”

Delacroix and Van Gogh's Good Samaritan

I have always loved the painting of “The Good Samraitan” by Delacroix, but even though in my art history class in 1990 I also saw Vincent van Gogh’s copy of it, I did not remember that he painted a mirror image of Delaroix’s original. I found that to be intriguing today, so I thought I would share it with you.

Honestly, I like Vincent’s version better because of the colors he chose. However, his painting came 41 years after Delacroix’s. And we all know Vincent van Gogh had his own style of painting!

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug! 🙂

“Vincent” by Don McLean

Here is a wonderful video of Vincent van Gogh’s paintings set to the song of “Vincent” by Don McLean. Enjoy!

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug! 🙂

Vincent van Gogh’s Thoughts

Vincent van Gogh photo

Hello, and happy Friday! I am sure by now you can see how much I have come to love Vincent van Gogh’s artwork! He really had a drive to learn how to draw and paint like so many artists I know! His letters are amazing. However, from early on in his endeavor to become a respected artist in his time, Vincent struggled with a great deal of rejection and judgment. He was known to be dirty and malnourished much of the time, even living homeless for short periods. For instance, in his Letter #158 from Cuesmes, in September of 1880 that he wrote to his brother Theo, he shared this:

“…at Courrieres, there was a coal-mine or pit; I saw the day-shift coming up at dusk, but there were no women workers in men’s clothing, as in the Borinage, only miners looking weary and miserable, blackened by coaldust, wearing pit-rags and one of them an old army greatcoat. Although this stage was almost unbearable to me, and I returned from it worn out, with bruised feet and in a rather melancholy state, I don’t regret it, because I saw interesting things and you learn to see with a quite different eye, there among the raw ordeals of poverty itself. I earned a few crusts of bread en route here and there in exchange for some drawings that I had in my suitcase. But when my ten francs were gone, I had to bivouac out in the open for rather poor shelter, once in a wood-pile and once, and it was a little better, in a haystack that had been broached where I managed to make a slightly more comfortable nest, only a fine rain didn’t exactly add to my well-being.

Well, and not withstanding, it was in this extreme poverty that I felt my energy return and that I said to myself, in any event I’ll recover from it, I’ll pick up my pencil that I put down in my great discouragement and I’ll get back to drawing, and from then on, it seems to me, everything has changed for me, and now I’m on my way and my pencil has become somewhat obedient and seems to become more so day by day. It was poverty, too long and too severe, that had discouraged me to the point where I could no longer do anything.”

Yet here is one of the drawings he did during this time:

Vincent's Miners

A month later he did this one:

The Angelus drawing by Vincent van Gogh

Then he wrote in his Letter #160, from Brussels in November of 1880 to Theo:

“…how is one supposed to learn to draw unless someone shows you? With the best will in the world one cannot succeed without also coming into and remaining in contact with artists who are already further along. Good will is of no avail if there’s absolutely no opportunity for development.”

Vincent had so much wisdom and longed for companionship with other artists. I am enjoying reading his letters a great deal as you can tell. I agree with him, because I feel I have grown from knowing and viewing so many other artist’s work, gaining encouragement from them, and learning to challenge myself to try new things.

The main reason I want to share these things with you is that I want to show others that there was so much more to the man, Vincent van Gogh, than the terrible things he did to himself! His mind was brilliant in so many ways. His heart was sensitive to others; he had true empathy for the down-trodden people he saw and met. He was a very hard worker. He worked constantly at becoming the best artist he could possibly be. Yet the sad thing is that I feel he was so misunderstood! For example, this is what he wrote in Letter #164, from Brussels in April of 1881 to Theo:

“…I’ll always be judged or talked about in different ways, whether within or outside the family, and one will always hear the most wide-ranging opinions being put forward.

And I don’t blame anyone for it, for relatively very few people know why a draughtsman does this or that.

Peasants and townsfolk, however, generally impute very great wickedness and evil intentions never dreamt of by one who betakes himself to all manner of places, corners holes that others prefer not to visit, in order to find picturesque places or figures.

A peasant who sees me drawing an old tree-trunk and sees me sitting there in front of it for an hour thinks I’m mad, and naturally laughs at me. A young lady who turns up her nose at the workman in his patched and dusty and sweaty work-clothes can’t understand, of course, why anyone visits the Borinage or Heist and goes down a coalmine all the way to the maintenages, and she, too, comes to the conclusion that I’m mad.”

Sometimes I wonder how many people ever really took the time to try to get to know him. I wish I could have, yet, I have his letters, so I feel I have his heart in my hands every time I pick them up to read them.

I have to say Vincent was a brilliant man who left us a legacy of amazing artwork to enjoy, learn from, and appreciate. Fortunately, his words were preserved as well so that we can see and hear for ourselves who he really was.

As Don McLean says in his song “Vincent,”

“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.”

Have a wonderful day, and give someone you love a big hug. 🙂

LUCID BEING

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