“I don’t accept that…”

There’s a really great letter that Vincent van Gogh wrote in response to criticism from Anthon van Rappard. 

Van Gogh makes it clear that he doesn’t accept Van Rappard’s critique calling the totality of Van Gogh’s work totally extremely weak, “The work in question, painting the peasants, is such laborious work that the extremely weak would never even embark on it.”

You can be open to criticism, and think critically about it as well. An assessment’s candor does not necessarily make it accurate. Somebody’s foresight—even an expert’s—does not make it a guarantee.

Van Gogh knew he had made good progress that van Rappard, for whatever reason, wasn’t acknowledging. He shows his progress, and continues, “I keep on making what I can’t do yet in order to learn to be able to do it.”

When you show your early work, that’s the level of clarity you need to have. Other people’s doubts won’t cause you despair, because you can discern between what they’re saying and what you can get out of it.

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