The ticking of a clock on Sunday nights can only mean one thing; it’s time for Sixty Minutes. On Sunday, October 16th, I was drawn into a segment about Vincent Van Gogh. The segment featured was two men that believe Van Gogh didn’t commit suicide in July of 1890. Their theory involves teenagers teasing the artist. The belief is he was murdered, teasing gone too far.
Van Gogh was only thirty-seven at the time of his death. He was a man in search of himself. He was an art dealer turned clergyman. It wasn’t until he was twenty-seven that he decided to try his hand at creating art. He only had a decade-long career, which spanned from 1880 until his death in 1890. During that period of time, Van Gogh created 900 paintings and 1,100 works on paper. Van Gogh sold only a few of his pieces. Most of his collection was given to his brother, Theo, who supported Van Gogh.
Every day he would take his materials and head out to the countryside where he’d paint. Every day. Think about that commitment. Van Gogh didn’t believe he was a great, undiscovered talent. He thought his work was to quote, “of very secondary importance.” Wow. Think about that. He wasn’t waiting to be “discovered.” He did what he did.
During a two year period, he averaged a painting a day.
Theo had been in failing health. He died six months after Vincent. Theo’s widow took Van Gogh’s collection to Holland and devoted herself to getting the artwork recognition she felt it deserved. The rest…is history.
Van Gogh painted.
Van Gogh studied.
Van Gogh tried to improve his craft.
He sounds like anyone of us. His art was a reflection of who he was. Our art is a reflection of who we are. He didn’t believe he was a great talent. Did that get anyone’s attention? This is a man who believed his life was a failure, yet he hadn’t given up. He’d taken his materials out to the countryside to paint on the day the shooting occurred. This was a man driven by his passion to create.
We need to take that lesson from Vincent Van Gogh. Keep working even when you’re filled with doubts. Don’t let you get in your way.
What is your measure of success?