May 25, 2010

Dear Rodney,Yesterday, Keith Wright of Melbourne, Australia wrote, "Nothing is as hopeless as 
trying to justify a lifetime as an artist. I have painted for over thirty years and 
have little to show for it. I have a studio full of paintings and a wife who 
denigrates my career. I have no money, no sales, no hope. You may even say, 'His 
paintings are bad.' But I have no ego and little belief in my abilities. I always 
thought one day my work might be in demand. I know I don't paint for others--it's 
an addiction within myself. But the indifference to my work has gradually worn me 
down. I'm now being treated for depression. I can no longer believe in myself 
because no one else believes in me. A lifetime wasted. I should feel bitter but I'm 
beyond even that. I have loved my art but it has destroyed me." 

Thanks, Keith. We've taken the liberty to put a few of your works at the top of the 
current clickback. 
I'm sure some of our readers will pass along their opinions. As in all cases where 
artists mention depression, I encourage them to seek help. Looks like you are doing 
that. While I'm deeply sorry for your predicament, I also recognize that it is, in 
degree, universal. While feelings of hopelessness may be part of the game, there is 
still the blessing, the power to create. At times like this, we can think of 
Vincent van Gogh.

"One may have a blazing hearth in one's soul and yet no one ever comes to sit by 
it," said Vincent. "Passersby see only a wisp of smoke rising from the chimney and 
continue on their way." This statement--even though his letters are often full of 
flights of optimism and joy--is the grim outlook of many of us. Success or no 
success, joy or no joy, we are alone. And it is to this private struggle that we 
must consign our energy, our focus, and our lives. 

Vincent tells us that one needs only to listen to the voice of nature to be 
fulfilled. That only the beautiful mind is needed. The idealist in us finds this to 
be true. The pragmatist doesn't. Vincent himself could not live up to his own 
standards. He too was depressed. "What am I in most people's eyes?" he asked. "A 
nonentity or an eccentric and disagreeable man." Truth is, when we're able to kiss 
off the expectations laid on us by ourselves and others, we have the chance to 

Best regards,


PS: "As a suffering creature, I cannot do without something greater than I--
something that is my life--the power to create." (Vincent van Gogh)

Esoterica: Feelings of creative joy and the consequent self-worth come from doing 
the work. We all ask Vincent's question: "There is something inside me--what can it 
be?" And we learn, "One must work and dare if one really wants to live." Are we up 
to this question and its answer? If it was easy to fulfill I think everyone would 
be artists.