Talk:Vincent van Gogh

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Wikiquote no longer allows unsourced quotations, and they are in process of being removed from our pages (see Wikiquote:Limits on quotations); but if you can provide a reliable and precise source for any quote on this list please move it to Vincent van Gogh. --Antiquary 19:38, 11 March 2009 (UTC)

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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 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.
    • Referring to a suicide attempt
  • 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.
    • sourced & moved
  • It is a pity that, as one gradually gains experience, one loses one's youth.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • Variant: There may be a great fire in our hearts, yet no one ever comes to warm himself at it, and the passers-by see only a wisp of smoke.
      • sourced & moved
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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 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.
  • 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)