A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 151: Silence the Voice


“If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”

I came across this quote by Vincent van Gogh today. For so many of us, especially those with that drive to create, there is that voice within. It is not a kind voice. It is judgmental. It is negative. It is cynical. And it is always spoken with our tone, our inflections, because it is always our voice.  It is very rarely the people around us who discourage and deflate; almost always it is us, snidely dismissing our own desires to paint, draw, dance, sing, act, write… create.

Of course, we will exercise confirmation bias when it comes to the feedback of others. If we don’t receive the enthusiastic response we were hoping for, or we get critique, or we get very little input at all, the voice chimes in immediately, “You can’t do this. You’re not good enough. Give it up. You’re just fooling yourself.” Artists crave a response partly because we create to share with others but also because we are so desperately insecure about our art.

I’m sure Vincent felt this way. In fact, I’m convinced of it. He received very little in the way of support for his art in his lifetime. No one bought his stuff, as hard as that is to believe today. His style was seen as undisciplined, manic, childish, messy, unskilled. Yet today we venerate Vincent, as we should, as the genius he was. Thank God he would not let the inner voice or those outer voices stop him. Thank God he picked up the brush and attacked those canvases in order to silence those voices.

If you are a creative, it is almost a guarantee that you know exactly what your inner voice sounds like. I certainly do. You and I need to heed Vincent’s advice. What am I telling myself I can’t do? What are you telling yourself you can’t do? We’ve just got to go do it, and prove ourselves wrong!

I came across this quote among 25 quotes from artists about art on mymodernmet.com. Here is the link below. Keep creatin’, y’all.




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