The prolific Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh gifted the world with some of the most iconic and prized works of art of all time. Despite living a short, turbulent life rife with poverty, illness and solitude, Vincent produced some 2,000 works of art – many of them praised by fellow artists and critics alike.

Vincent’s short, yet impressive ten-year career took him across the Netherlands and France. During this time, he wrote many letters to his family, particularly to his brother, Theo. These words reveal his many thoughts, ideas and his various states of mind – and also contain numerous pearls of wisdom. Join us as we check out 21 profound quotes and excerpts from Vincent’s letters, which you can apply to life, love, work and play.

“I am still far from being what I want to be, but with God’s help I shall succeed.”

“The way to know life is to love many things.”

“Conscience is a man’s compass”

“I dream of painting and then I paint my dream.”

“Paintings have a life of their own that derives from the painter’s soul.”

“I’ll start with small things.”

“I long so much to make beautiful things. But beautiful things require effort—and disappointment and perseverance.”

“I’m drawing a great deal and think it’s getting better.”

“The more I think about it, the more I realize there is nothing more artistic than to love others”

“One must work and dare if one really wants to live.”

“As we advance in life it becomes more and more difficult, but in fighting the difficulties the inmost strength of the heart is developed.”

“Drawing is the root of everything, and the time spent on that is actually all profit.”