We all struggle some days.  Self-doubt creeps in.  We wonder if we will ever be good enough.  Will people like us?  Will people like what we produce?  It’s those days that we all need some encouragement.  So read this if you need inspiration.

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If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time then you know I draw a lot of inspiration from Vincent van Gogh.  I think you can too.  I love the recent book Vincent van Gogh ∼ Creative Inspiration. The book shares his thoughts (culled from his letters) on creativity, daily work, doubt, and even inspiration among other topics.  Each quote is juxtaposed not with one of his famous paintings but with a sketch or drawing.  His practice.  I think his words can give all of us the encouragement and inspiration that we need.

Why We Must Create

Anyway, it’s not a bad idea for you to want to become an artist, because if one has fire in one and soul,
one can’t keep stifling them 
and–one would rather burn than suffocate. What’s inside must get out.

Don’t you feel that way about your art?  Whether it’s painting or writing or photography or filmmaking.  There is something that you feel you must create.  It needs to come out and see the light of day.  What we do matters to us and first, we must get it out.  You’ve probably known this since you were a child.

When We Falter On The Path

If something in you says “you aren’t a painter,” IT’S THEN THAT YOU SHOULD PAINT…

Feeling inadequate happens to everyone.  Even great painters.  Although he created over 800 paintings, drawings, and sketches, van Gogh only sold one painting during his lifetime.  He struggled with doubt and mental illness throughout and yet he kept drawing and painting.  And when self-doubt crept in, he continued to paint because that is the way you become a painter.

What To Do When We Are Blocked

One becomes a painter by painting.

But the way to do it better later is to do it as well as one can today, there can’t be anything but progress tomorrow.

I believe so strongly in your artistic ability that to me you’ll be an artist
as soon as you pick up a brush or a piece of chalk and, clumsily or not clumsily, make something.

The only thing to do is to do.  Pick up the brush or the chalk or the pen and put something, anything on paper.  That’s how you start.  That’s how you progress.  The only way to do better tomorrow is to do something today.  Do it badly today in order to do it better tomorrow.  You can only be a painter by painting and a writer by writing.

You Must Practice Your Craft

Through working hard, old chap, I hope to make something good one day.  I haven’t got it yet, but I’m hunting it and fighting for it,
I want something serious, something fresh – something with soul in it! Onward, onward.

When he wasn’t painting, van Gogh was still working.  He was drawing and sketching.  He would sketch out a painting to get the details the way he wanted them before he started painting.  He drew hands over and over again in order to get them right.    This practice, these drawings were just as important to his work as the final product was.  It takes practice to get better.

It’s OK To Change

Last year I painted almost nothing but flowers to accustom myself to a colour other than grey,
that’s to say pink, soft or bright green, light blue, violet, yellow, orange, find red. 

Many people don’t realize that when van Gogh first started painting, he painted drab, grey pictures.  It was the style of the Dutch Masters of his time.  Potato Eaters is one famous painting from that time period.  But he showed that it was possible to change his style and he did this by practicing, by getting used to using brighter colors.  If you don’t like the work that you’re currently doing, maybe it’s time to change it up and do something new.

I hope that you found something here that will inspire you and give you encouragement along the way.  I highly recommend Vincent van Gogh ∼ Creative Inspiration.  It’s a book that I keep handy.  I originally bought it in the Kindle version but loved it so much I bought the Hardcover version.  It’s small enough and light enough to drop into your bag when you think you might need some inspiration on the road.  And if you have any specific creative concerns that I haven’t addressed, please let me know.