Living in Colour

Vincent Van Gogh

December 31st 2012…

Today, I decided to write about painting. A voice from the past, words from the present and a hope for the future.

For myself, I have always scribbled and drawn. One of my earliest memories is of a very childish picture of Pearl Bailey in Carmen Jones… chalk on small blackboard in Grandad’s parlour. Of course, the film was in black and white on our TV back then, but the colours were vivid on the blackboard… I remember I drew the dress blue. It had felt blue.

I dream of painting and then I paint my dream.~ Vincent Van Gogh

I lack skill in painting, being self-taught and coming to it late. But that’s ok. It frustrates me when I cannot capture the vision in my dream with the accuracy I would like, but it really doesn’t matter…

If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced. ~ Vincent Van Gogh

Van Gogh is a hero of mine in many ways. There is an absoluteness and honesty in his work that I never understood until these past few years. I always saw the energy. You don’t see it in reproductions of his paintings, not really, but stand a foot away and see how his hands and fingers have dragged the paint, see the brushwork and urgency in the strokes… and the vibrancy of the painting jumps out and grabs you by the heart. Look at many of his canvases and you can hear people saying ‘a child could have painted that.’ In some ways, I think, a child did.

Wheat field with crows by Vincent Van Gogh
Wheatfield with Crows, by Vincent Van Gogh

Children have a clarity of vision, an uncompromising inner honesty in their view of the world. Life is vivid and multi-coloured to their eyes. There is nothing mediocre, everything holds the possibility of magic and adventure. Children have a passion for life we often lose as we move into adulthood. They know how to dream.

For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream. ~ Vincent Van Gogh

The Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh
The Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent never lost that childlike passion. Read his words and his paintings and you see that. More importantly, you feel it. For a moment outside of time, you can touch the fire in his soul as he stood beneath the stars or the blazing sun. That fire is in and around us if we care to look. Too often we forget…

One may have a blazing hearth in one’s soul and yet no one ever came to sit by it. Passers-by see only a wisp of smoke from the chimney and continue on their way. ~Vincent Van Gogh

Or perhaps we are afraid. Afraid to be different from the crowd, to draw attention to ourselves, to actually see with our whole Self and not through the grey lens of normality. But somewhere, buried beneath the layers of personality and social graces, I think we all share the same yearning:

I wish they would only take me as I am. ~ Vincent Van Gogh

We try hard to be what we feel we should be, often not daring to chase the dream of what we could be, or constrained by an accumulation of ‘circumstance’ we let go of the dreams. We stub our toes on the rocks of life and the visions of possibility fade into the background. Necessity and compromise drown the hopes we had and each crossroads can lead us further from the goal that may have glowed like a beacon in the soul… but by keeping that vision vividly in mind we can, by moving forward, find another road towards it.

Even the knowledge of my own fallibility cannot keep me from making mistakes. Only when I fall do I get up again. ~ Vincent Van Gogh

It doesn’t take a lot, sometimes to reignite the fire in the soul. I had always dreamed of painting like my grandfather. But then there was dance until that future was lost to injury. Then life, and children… and then a friend gave me some paints….and I had time on my hands… and emotion in bucketloads as my husband’s last illness coloured our lives. So I painted. And found that flame again.

Great things are done by a series of small things brought together. ~ Vincent Van Gogh

Mulberry tree by Vincent Van Gogh
Mulberry tree, by Vincent Van Gogh

Sometimes there is a defining instant that can open up a whole world of possibility. It may be so small you barely notice it. But if you are awake to possibility and the fire of dreams you will see it, as someone said to me the other day, like ‘the one bit of reality’ a grey landscape.  All we need, when we see these motes of reality is the courage to make them part of who we are.

One must work and dare if one really wants to live. ~ Vincent Van Gogh

So as a new year dawns, I wish for you the eyes of the child, filled with hope and magic, wonder and possibility. I wish you dreams to follow with your heart, and a heart open to experience and joy, to life and to Love.

4 thoughts on “Living in Colour”

  1. Sue, you appear to be Heaven Bound, Vincent is now the most sought after painter on the planet, while he was alive, he went by unnoticed, the last now will be first, how those words apply to vincent. he was last then, he is first now, parables spring from anywhere, these days,amen


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