The Letters of Vincent van Gogh

Admire as much as you can. Most people do not admire enough.

Against all expectations, the symptoms of Van Gogh’s mental illness are conspicuous by their almost complete absence from his letters. Much as he chose not to paint before he had fully recovered from one of his attacks, so he refrained from writing at times of crisis. Throughout his life, admittedly, his letters bear witness to a man possessed, frequently agitated, enraged, dejected, obsessed, but never deranged, or emotionally or intellectually unstable.

And the memories of all we have loved stay and come back to us in the evening of our life. They are not dead but sleep, and it is well to gather a treasure of them.

And when I read, and really I do not read so much, only a few authors, - a few men that I discovered by accident - I do this because they look at things in a broader, milder and more affectionate way than I do, and because they know life better, so that I can learn from them.

be careful not to become narrow-minded, or afraid of reading what is well written, quite the contrary, such writings are a source of comfort in life.

Don't lose heart if it's very difficult at times, everything will come out all right and nobody can in the beginning do as he wishes.

Drawing is the root of everything!

How right it is to love flowers and the greenery of pines and ivy and hawthorn hedges; they have been with us from the very beginning.

I can very well do without God both in my life and in my painting, but I cannot, suffering as I am, do without something which is greater than I, which is my life, the power to create.

If I cease searching, then, woe is me, I am lost. That is how I look at it - keep going, keep going come what may.

money can be repaid, but not kindness such as yours.

My great longing is to learn to make those very incorrectnesses, those deviations, remodellings, changes of reality, so that they may become, yes, untruth if you like - but more true than the literal truth.

Seek only light and freedom and do not immerse yourself too deeply in the worldly mire.

So what do you want? Does what happens inside show on the outside? There is such a great fire in one’s soul, and yet nobody ever comes to warm themselves there, and passersby see nothing but a little smoke coming from the top of the chimney, and go on their way.

The heart of man is very much like the sea, it has its storms, it has its tides and in its depths it has its pearls too

The lamps are burning and the starry sky is over it all.

There are often beams in our eye that we know not of. Let us therefore ask that our eye may become single, for then we ourselves shall become wholly single.

There is a great difference between one idler and another idler. There is someone who is an idler out of laziness and lack of character, owing to the baseness of his nature. If you like, you may take me for one of those. Then there is the other kind of idler, the idler despite himself, who is inwardly consumed by a great longing for action who does nothing because his hands are tied, because he is, so to speak, imprisoned somewhere, because he lacks what he needs to be productive, because disastrous circumstances have brought him forcibly to this end. Such a one does not always know what he can do, but he nevertheless instinctively feels, I am good for something! My existence is not without reason! I know that I could be a quite a different person! How can I be of use, how can I be of service? There is something inside me, but what can it be? He is quite another idler. If you like you may take me for one of those.

There is peace even in the storm

The victory one would gain after a whole life of work and effort is better than one that is gained sooner.

The world concerns me only in so far as I owe it a certain debt and duty, so to speak, because I have walked this earth for 30 years, and out of gratitude would like to leave some memento in the form of drawings and paintings—not made to please this school or that, but to express a genuine human feeling.

Those who love much, do much and accomplish much, and whatever is done with love is done well.... Love is the best and noblest thing in the human heart, especially when it is tested by life as gold is tested by fire. Happy is he who has loved much, and although he may have wavered and doubted, he has kept that divine spark alive and returned to what was in the beginning and ever shall be.

If only one keeps loving faithfully what is truly worth loving and does not squander one's love on trivial and insignificant and meaningless things then one will gradually obtain more light and grow stronger.

To suffer without complaint is the only lesson we have to learn in this life

We are surrounded by poetry on all sides...

Well, what shall I say; our inward thoughts, do they ever show outwardly? There may be a great fire in our soul, but no one ever comes to warm himself at it, and the passers-by see only a little bit of smoke coming through the chimney, and pass on their way.

We spent our whole lives in unconsous excercise of the art of expressing our thoughts with the help of words

What is drawing? How does one learn it? It is working through an invisible iron wall that seems to stand between what one feels and what one can do.

What preys on my mind is simply this one question: what am I good for, could I not be of service or use in some way?