15: The work continues.
- November 20, 2016 -
A few weeks ago, I found myself returning to The Letters of Vincent van Gogh, a more than 500-page chronicle of letters, drawings, and biographical insights.
What’s extraordinary about these letters is that, because van Gogh was not considered a great artist during his lifetime, they depict a very ordinary man living a very ordinary sort of life.
In his letters, you read about a man who is struggling to find work, who cares deeply for his family, and who is eager to live more fully in his faith — and, in the midst of all that, just happens to be intensely committed to his art.
“I want to get to the point where people say of my work: that man feels deeply,” he writes in 1882. “Well or not well, I am going back to drawing regularly from morning till night. I don’t want anybody to be able to say to me again, ‘Oh, but those are only old drawings.’”
For van Gogh, the work continued regardless of whether he was met with failure or success, and it continued regardless of anything else which might have been going on in the world.
If he sold a painting, he sold a painting — but, for the most part, his day-to-day life would remain almost entirely unchanged. If he didn’t sell a painting, he continued on in the hope that, someday soon, he might.
In both cases, however, the result was always the same: he returned to his desk, and he got back to work.