Pause…for thought.

by Geoff Hall on May 1, 2015

April, 2015 – Pause…for thought.


Today Kit Jennings (Sozo Arts, Portugal) and I played catch-up in the Bar of Bristol Temple Meads station. We ‘talk’ quite a bit via email, and I think we’ve even logged a Skype call, but it is so much better to do this in person.

Our consensus, based on our encouragement of one another, was that we both continue to work in our callings, persevere through the hard times and rejoice in the good or just ‘better’ times. For sure this is not an easy thing and the will of God is not a destination in the here and now, where we’d both put up our feet and lounge in the sun. This ‘will’ is not something which happens without us, but in partnership with us. It takes energy, commitment, yes perseverance, but also the mastering our gifts. It will not unfold on its own; we will have to work at it.

What is good about this sort of mutual encouragement, is that it is a shared experience; of the long travail, the wilderness (leading to the desert of the real). We’ve all probably suffered from well-meaning counsel. The stuff that suggests we get a proper job, or that if God was truly ‘in it’ we’d have been successful by now. Yes, dear counsellor, I do realise that Vincent van Gogh didn’t sell any of his paintings whilst he was still alive.

This I believe was meant to encourage me with ‘realism’, historical or otherwise. But what Job’s comforters didn’t seem to understand, was that van Gogh didn’t plan it that way. He didn’t set out saying, “I shall create such expressionistic, aesthetically charged art, which will be so far ahead of its time, that it’ll never sell any of it whilst I’m alive.” This wasn’t a marketing plan. It was a harsh fact of life. And now of course we take this for granted, we see the greatness of his work and think how cool it must have been to be so far ahead of the cultural curve.

What we know of Vincent’s life, is it led to suffering, to self-mutilation, of visits to the asylum. Of feeling the utter desolation of his situation, depressed and alone, that he took his life. (Although some say he didn’t, that it was an accident, but either way, it’s a pretty ignominious way for such a great artist to die!)

So, forgive me if I don’t feel encouraged by linking my work in the 21st Century to van Gogh. My aim is to neither suffer from Kierkegaard’s ‘Sickness unto Death’, nor from an inability to sell my work. I have no marketing plan that directs me along those lines.


Arts Retreats by Kit & Sam Jennings

Arts Retreats by Kit & Sam Jennings

As we sat in the Bar at Temple Meads, it was good to reflect that no matter how unfulfilling our artistic lives may be at the moment, we continue to press on; despite the naysayers, despite those who see ‘calling’ as a part-time job at best and a hobby at worst.

Forgive us for taking our calling seriously, or maybe just get over it! Forgive us for doing this as if our lives depended on it; because like Vincent van Gogh, it kind of does… and if not our lives, our sanity at least. We press on to the Prize.

Be well,



Vincent van Gogh - 'Starry Night'

Vincent van Gogh – ‘Starry Night’

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