Vincent Van Gogh – my musings on what it is to be an artistic genius

IMG_0241My lovely friend Hannah and I recently spent a wonderful time visiting the Van Gogh exhibition at the Tate.

Most people in today’s world would recognize his brilliance as a painter but during his lifetime his work was ridiculed.

Being so close to the paintings and seeing each earnest brush stroke I felt I could sense his need to be understood. It seems to me that he was crying out with each paint stroke…look…can’t you see?


What motivated him to keep painting when his work was being rejected? No one wanted to buy his paintings and he spent most of his short life in poverty, but still he kept painting! What was that driving force? Was he trying to communicate his truth using a different language? A language that he had invented in his painting style and a language that the world had not yet heard? Is that what it is to an artistic genius? Of course since the world did not know this new language people did not understand! It takes time to learn a language and sadly for Vincent the world did not learn it until after he had given up trying to share his truth.


So what was his truth? Of course we will never know. And perhaps for every viewer of his paintings there will be a different understanding.

For me I am most touched by his paintings of simple things and mundane scenes.


Just lately I have found myself drawn to the idea of minimalism for many reasons but mainly for the idea that less is more. By taking things away what remains becomes more precious. In many of Van Gogh’s paintings his focus is intensely on just one unremarkable object or small scene. It feels to me that he is showing us that there is something precious and even sacred in absolutely everything! Perhaps this is what his motivation was? As he painted he was saying, ‘Look…Can’t you see?!’

I am currently taking an online course in Celtic Studies and we are contemplating the Celtic ‘Otherworld’ and what it might have meant to those who have gone before and what it means to us today. My perception is that the ‘Otherworld’ sits within or perhaps alongside this world and can only be accessed by those who allow the preciousness of this world to be felt. This focus acts as a portal into the ‘Otherworld’ where the beauty of everything is magnified…colours heightened, smells sweeter, sounds more harmonious…life more precious!

So my musing have brought me back to where I started with the question, ‘what it is to be an artistic genius’

I think my conclusion is that the role of an artistic genius is to find a new way to remind us to focus on the wonder that is life, so that we might experience it to the full.IMG_0313

Thank you Vincent for the richness of your ‘language’ and for shouting so loudly through your paintings… ‘Look! Can’t you see?!’



Author: wendyandrew

I live, dream and paint in the beautiful countryside on the Dorset/Wiltshire border. I studied fine art at Salisbury College of Art and Cheltenham College of Art and Design and have been a professional artist for over twenty years. My work has been published and is collected internationally. I wrote and illustrated 'Luna Moon Hare' which was published in 2008. My paintings are inspired by the ancient mysteries that are wrapped in the turning of the seasons, and the voice of The Goddess whispering through the mythical realms.

4 thoughts on “Vincent Van Gogh – my musings on what it is to be an artistic genius”

  1. As always, Wendy, am delighted by what comes from your Muse, whether written or painted! One of these years I will get to the Glastonbury Goddess festival and have the joy of meeting you in person. I did my DNA testing and found out that my DNA is well over half from Ireland Scotland and England as well as Scandinavia. I have been pining to return to Ireland for many years. Blessings from Virginia!!


  2. Hi Wendy, thank you so much for sharing your musings on Vincent Van Gogh! Your comment “Look! Can’t you see?” brought back a thought I had after an afternoon in the garden with my 2 year old grandson recently………..WHEN do we cross the line of ‘looking’ but not ‘seeing’? Sebastian will spend ages looking at, & seeing with fascination, things that we, mostly, as adults, in our ‘busy’ lives, just ignore. An ant going about it’s daily business, a spider spinning a web & in the blink of an eye swinging on its wonderweb from one destination to another! A woodlouse making its way along the cracks of the garden path! The incredible wonders of nature, that I so love to share with him, free for us all to ‘see’ if we can only slow down & take the time out to do so! Love & best wishes to you & yours! ( beautiful day here today – hopefully the same with you!)


    1. Hi Linda Oh YES that’s exactly it! Children REALLY ‘see’ don’t they!!!!! How WONDERful ! Oh that we remember to SEE!!!
      We had a beautiful sunny evening here! Love and blessings to you and yours! Wendy x


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: