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Tuesday, April 24, 2018


By Judy Ann Davis

Musicians, writers, painters, scientists, and many more people share a skill that many call creativity. Where does it come from besides the activated frontal lobe of the brain? It’s a tough question that has been explored for years and has often been linked with mood disorders. Many artists, when their brains or hands are busy, have learned to channel depression into some type of creation.

First Steps
March 30, 1953, was the birthday of well-known painter, Vincent Van Gogh, who lived to be only 37 years old. At the age of 27, he abandoned his unsuccessful careers as an art dealer and a missionary and concentrated on his painting and drawing. When he began painting, he used peasants and farmers as models and then flowers, landscapes and himself because he was too poor to pay his subjects.

Noon Rest
In less than ten years of his life, he painted almost 900 paintings. One of his best known works, Starry Night, was painted in in an asylum at Saint-Remy-de-Provence, France where he voluntarily admitted himself there to recover from his 1888 nervous breakdown and his ear-cutting incident. The painting depicts the view from his bedroom window.

The Pink Peach Tree
Ironically, he sold only one painting in his life time. The Red Vineyard which went for 400 francs in Belgium seven months before his death. His most expensive painting Portrait of Dr. Gachet was sold for $148.6 million in 1990.

Why Vincent Van Gogh?  Because he’s just one of scores of visual artists, writers, musicians and other creative people, including Ludwig van Beethoven, Mark Rothko, Sylvia Plath, T.S. Eliot, Irving Berlin, Virginia Woolf, and Ernest Hemingway, who are known or believed to have suffered from mental illness. He was a prolific artist—not recognized until after his death. Yet, his paintings are marvelous. I particularly like many of his lesser known works.

I also mention Vincent Van Gogh because we celebrate Mental Health Month in May. We need to realize that mood disorders occur in all people in all walks of life, but more particularly in creative people. So, as a writer, if you’re feeling a little down and out with your current situation, please realize you are not alone. Everyone suffers mood disorders and feelings of failure, but the key to thwarting them is activity. So write gobble-gook, paint, ponder, hand wash the dishes, clean out a closet, try your hand at a knitting, take a walk, but stay active until those next brilliant thoughts pop up.

I have chosen some pictures by Vincent Van Gogh that are my favorites. Enjoy!
Twitter ID:  JudyAnnDavis4 
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  1. Great post, Judy. Starry night is one of my favorite paintings--and I love the song by the same name about Van Gogh. Of course, he killed himself but he was going blind. What a blow for an artist! Creative people tend to more frequently battle depression, as you mentioned. Fortunately, I have a supportive family. That's not true of all writers and I am grateful I do.

  2. I believe this, Judy, that creative people are affected more deeply by mood swings. I also believe that in a lot of cases, organization and creativity are oxymorons. I envy anyone who is both organized and creative. Lol. BTW: Have you listened to Don McClean's song "Starry, Starry Night," dedicated to and written about Van Gough? It is simply beautiful. I found it on YouTube.


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