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On the brevity of a life

Ten years. That's the entire span of Vincent Van Gogh's life as an artist. I've been dipping into a selection of his letters again, and I had forgotten the following sobering facts: in the Spring of 1880, he decided he wanted to become an artist; by July 1890, he was dead.

The selection of his letters is illustrated with lots of his drawings and sketches. His earliest efforts were really not that good. The best you can say about them is that they are direct and earnest. But his progress in drawing mirrors his phenomenal progress in painting. In ten short years, he went from drawing like this:

. . . to drawing like this:
Only ten years. Just think what you were doing ten years ago. Feel how it seems so close by, so recent. A lot can happen in a decade, of course, but it's still not that long a piece of a human life. Yet Van Gogh accomplished so much during that short career.

He puts to shame all of us who complain about not having enough time in the day to get to the studio, or to fit our work into our 'busy' lives.

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  1. This is so true. I'm trying to imagine where I might be in 10 years....and what I might be creating if I put in the time.

  2. Thanks for the comment, pedalpower. There's a poem by George Herbert with the lines 'But at my back I always hear/Time's winged chariot hurrying near.' That's how I feel sometimes - or, where did all the time go?


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