Sunday, April 4, 2010

letters from vincent VIII

nuenen/september 1884
to brother theo

I tell you, if one wants to be active, one must not be afraid of failures, one must not be afraid of making some mistakes. Many people think that they will become good by doing no harm; that's a lie, and you yourself used to call it a lie.
It leads to stagnation, to mediocrity.
Just dash something down when you see a blank canvas staring you in the face with a certain imbecility.
You do not know how paralysing that staring of a blank canvas is; it says to the painter, You can't do anything. The canvas stares at you like an idiot, and it hypnotizes some painters, so that they themselves become idiots. Many painters are afraid of the blank canvas, but the blank canvas is afraid of the really passionate painter who is daring-- and who has once and for all broken that spell of 'you cannot' . . . .

january 1885

And I am also looking for blue all the time. Here the peasants' figures are as a rule blue. That blue in the ripe corn or against the withered leaves of a birch hedge-- so that the faded shades of darker and lighter blue are emphasized and made to speak by contrast with the golden tones of reddish-brown-- is very beautiful and has struck me here from the very first. The people here instinctively wear the most beautiful blue that I have ever seen.
It is a coarse linen which they weave themselves, warp black, woof blue, the result of which is a black and blue striped pattern. When this fades and becomes somewhat discoloured by wind and weather, it is an infinitely quiet, delicate tone that particularly brings out the flesh colour.
Well, blue enough to react to all the colours in which hidden orage elements are to be found and discoloured enough not to jar . . .

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