Thursday, January 20, 2011

the road of art

          I first read this passage while I was browsing in a bookstore several years ago. It reminds me that there are different roads we can take in the creative process but if we sacrifice our love for subject, process or people we are missing the point. Love and honesty must be motivating factors. It is also a reminder that creativity is a universal impulse. Some may need a little more guidance than others but everyone can create something beautiful in one way or another.
           "If you read the letters of the painter Van Gogh you will see what his creative impulse was. It was just this: he loved something--the sky, say. He loved human beings. He wanted to show human beings how beautiful the sky was. So he painted it for them. And that was all there was to it. 
          When Van Gogh was a young man in his early twenties, he was in London studying to be a clergyman. He had no thought of being an artist at all. He sat in his cheap little room writing a letter to his younger brother in Holland, whom he loved very much. He looked out the window at a watery tw ilight, a thin lampost, a star, and he said in his letter something like this, 'It is so beautiful I must show you how it looks'. And then on his cheap ruled note paper, he made the most beautiful tender drawing of it.
          When I read this letter of Van Gogh's it comforted me very much and seemed to throw clear light on the whole road of Art. Before I had thought that to produce a work of painting or literature, you scowled and thought long and ponderously and weighed everything solemnly and learned everything that all artists had ever done aforetime, and what their influences and schools were, and you were extremely careful about design and balance and getting interesting planes into your painting, and avoided, with the most stringent severity showing the faintest academical tendency, and were strictly modern. And so on and so on.
          But the moment I read Van Gogh's letter I knew what art was, and the creative impulse. It is a feeling of love and enthusiasm for something, and in a direct, simple, passionate and true way, you try to show this beauty in things to others by drawing it."  


Passage from "If You Want to Write" by Brenda Ueland  Image from Van Gogh Museum (unsure if image is the same one mentioned in above description but closest i could find. if anyone can confirm the exact sketch please let me know. i would love to see it).

1 comment:

Lauren Kay said...

I love that he drew the picture. I love the thoughts on drawing and creating art. It inspires me to actually read that drawing book and do something about it.