Winter with Vincent Van Gogh

Landschaft im Schnee by Vincent Van Gogh (Arles, February 1888)

What am I in the eyes of most people — a nonentity, an eccentric, or an unpleasant person — somebody who has no position in society and will never have; in short, the lowest of the low. All right, then — even if that were absolutely true, then I should one day like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, has in his heart. That is my ambition, based less on resentment than on love in spite of everything, based more on a feeling of serenity than on passion. Though I am often in the depths of misery, there is still calmness, pure harmony and music inside me. I see paintings or drawings in the poorest cottages, in the dirtiest corners. And my mind is driven towards these things with an irresistible momentum.” Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh – Self-portrait with Grey Felt Hat (Sept 1887 – Oct 1887)

Today, I am celebrating the 167th birthday of Vincent Van Gogh (his actual birthday is March 30th), who in his low moments, thought of himself as “somebody who has no position in society and will never have; in short, the lowest of the low.” How amazed he would be at the outpouring of love that he has received throughout the world on his birthday. Social media was and still is alive with comments such as: “truly my favorite artist” “happy birthday to a beautiful soul” “Love you, Vincent” “Happy Birthday, Sweetheart”, “Miss you, Vincent”. It is as if he is present with us still.

Vincent’s life resonates with us simply because he shared his love for the world in his paintings and in his writings. We enjoy discussing his style of painting, his travels, his love for his brother, Theo and his relationships with other artists. But our hearts are drawn to his understanding of the human experience. “Though I am often in the depths of misery, there is still calmness, pure harmony and music inside me.”

Happy Birthday, Vincent. Thank you for your gift of love, beauty and resilience. You have taught us, that even in the most difficult of circumstances, there is calmness, harmony and music.

Close friends are truly life’s treasures. Sometimes they know us better than we know ourselves. With gentle honesty, they are there to guide and support us, to share our laughter and our tears. Their presence reminds us that we are never really alone.” Vincent van Gogh

20 Comments »

  1. This is a very inspiring post. I did not know that Vincent Van Gogh had such negative thoughts about himself. That should be an encouragement to us who feel that we do not make the positive contribution that we would like to make. His art has been en encouragement to other artists and to all of us who enjoy his outstanding contribution. I have always enjoyed his self portrait.

  2. This post is very inspiring, not only for Van Gogh and his words, but also for your selections of his writings. I did not realize that he had such negative thoughts of himself and all about him. It is so encouraging for all of us when we feel less than we would like to be or our lack of being able to offer all the good that we would like to be able to get acquainted with someone like Vincent. I have always liked his self portrait. Thank you for sharing this outstanding post..

    • Thank you for your lovely comment. Vincent Van Gogh was the quintessential hero who faced life with courage, even though much of his life was in shadow. He recognized the power of love and perseverance. Even today, we see his artwork as if he were speaking directly to us, without the barriers of time or location. We recognize him as a kindred spirit. Of all of the artists, perhaps he is the one who touches our soul.

  3. I’ve been enjoying your posts when off line at the apartment, and this one was especially sweet.

    am more hurried than usual as restaurants have a ‘no dining’ rule thru the country – takeout only— but my neighbors insist it’s ok for me to use the internet and eat while sitting at a semi-isolated table in the far corner!

    thanks for your lovely posts – the poem earlier in the week/last week was really nice, and i could picture you reading it outloud.. thanks for sharing that as well!

    • I have been thinking about how you are doing on your side of the world. Vancouver declared an emergency a couple of weeks ago so we are entering a new reality. I am using it to be creative and keep focused on the daily joys – and you are a joy to me! Thank you for stopping by…made my day!

  4. Do you recommend a particular book for these letters? Thank you for the inspiring quotes, as usual 🙂 And thank you for including one of my favorite paintings Landschaft im Schnee.

  5. “Obwohl ich oft in den Tiefen des Elends bin, ist immer noch Ruhe, pure Harmonie und Musik in mir.” Diese Aussage zeigt die Stärke, mit der van Gogh auch seine grossartigen Bilder komponierte. Ich mag ihn…

  6. What a lovely birthday treat for Vincent. Last week I was reading about Australian painter, John Peter Russell (1858-1930) who worked in France during the heyday of the impressionists. Russell was a friend of Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Auguste Rodin the sculptor, and, of course, Van Gogh who in 1886 became one of his companions at Cormon’s atelier near Cimetière de Montmartre. They enjoyed close friendship and exchanged sketches from time to time as well as discussed problems associated with painting. Due to this some art experts have pointed out that Russell’s techniques more closely resembled Van Gogh’s. I like reading such details – and your site, Rebecca, is a great source. Merci.

    • You have given me a wonderful gift, Jo! I have never heard of John Peter Russell, so today I did a mini research and plan to do more in the near future. What an unusual life – so many twists and turns, friendships, connections, creating and destroying. I share your love for details, because it is the tiny, seemingly insignificant things that give the real story behind the painting. While it is nice to look at paintings and admire the work, there is so much more that goes into a work of art. For example, why paint a specific landscape? There must be something that triggered the creative urge to capture that location. And what time of day was it painted? Morning? Afternoon? What choice of colours? Was there another artist painting alongside…and the list of questions goes on and on. Again, my thanks for introducing me to John Peter Russell.

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