to brother theo
Do not imagine that I think myself perfect or that I think that many people's taking me for a disagreeable character is no fault of mine. I am often terribly melancholy, irritable, hungering and thirsting, as it were, for sympathy; and when I do not get it, I try to act indifferently, speak sharply, and often even pour oil on the fire. I do not like to be in company, and often find it difficult to mingle with people, to speak with them. But do you know what the cause is-- if not of all, of a great deal of this? Simply nervousness; I am terribly sensitive, physically as well as morally . . . But you, or anyone who will take the trouble to think it over, will not condemn me, I hope, because of it, not find me unbearable. I try to fight it off, but that does not change my temperament; and even though this may be my bad side, confound it, I have a good side too, and can't they credit me with that also?
It is true that I am often in the greatest misery, but still there is a calm pure harmony and music inside me.
Last Saturday night I attacked a thing I had been dreaming of for along time. It is a view of the flat green meadows, with haycocks. It is crossed by a cinder path running along a ditch. And on the horizon in the middle of the picture the sun is setting, fiery red.I cannot possibly draw the effect in such a hurry, but this is the composition.
But it was surely a question of colour and tone, the variety of the sky's colour scheme-- first a violet haze, with the red sun half covered by a dark purple cloud which had a brilliant fine red border; near the sun reflections of vermilion, but above it a streak of yellow, turning into green and then into blue, the so-called cerulean blue; and then here and there violet and grey clouds, catching reflections from the sun.
The ground was a kind of carpetlike texture of green, grey and brown, but variegated and full of vibration-- in this colourful soil the water in the ditch sparkles.
Then I have painted a huge mass of dune ground-- thickly painted and sticky.
I know for sure that I have an instinct for colour, and that it will come to me more and more, that painting is in the very marrow of my bones.
I feel such a creative power in myself that I know for sure that the time will arrive when, so to speak, I shall regularly make something good every day.
But very rarely a day passes that I do not make something, though it is not yet the real thing I want to make . . .
This is something unbearable for many a painter, or at least almost unbearable. One wants to be an honest man, one is that, one works as hard as a slave, but still one cannot make both ends meet; one must give up the work, there is no chance of carrying it out without spending more on it than one can get back, one gets a feeling of guilt, of shortcoming, of not keeping one's promises, one is not honest, which one would be if the work were paid for at its natural, reasonable price. One is afraid of making friends, one is afraid of moving; like one of the old lepers, one would like to call from afar to the people: Don't come too near me, for intercourse with me brings you sorrow and loss. With all that huge burden of care on one's heart one must set to work with a calm everyday face . . . .
But one feels so miserable at such a time; I have a large pile of studies, but they don't interest me then, and I find them all bad . . . .
The crayon has a real gypsy soul.