Dear Theo

my world in words

Not A Day Without A Line

Posted on | June 12, 2010 | 319 Comments

Being that this is a blog named after the letters Vincent Van Gogh wrote to his brother Theo, it feels appropriate to talk about a one of the handful of passages from those letters that I didn’t just highlight, but have let shape the way I think about and approach my life and my work.

“Not a day without a line.  By writing, reading, working and practicing daily, perseverance will lead me to a good end.” – Vincent Van Gogh

Not a day without a line.  I’ve probably said that to myself at least once a day for the past 8 years; it’s become my philosophy, my inspiration, and my commitment.  The specific action that it inspires has changed from month to month, but the premise is that I have to do something creatively worthwhile every single day.  Not a day without a line.  Sometimes it’s a journal entry, sometimes it’s progress on a song, sometimes it’s a very literal line scribbled down with the thought that it will someday find its way into a song.

Besides the act of cutting his ear off, the thing that most people know about Vincent Van Gogh is that he was never celebrated as an artist during his life – certainly not to the level he his now.  And yet, throughout his letters to his brother, his commitment to this “not a day without a line” way of life never wavers.  Even if his paintings never sold or never hung in a museum, he was an artist and knew that meant he needed to be an artist every single day.  It was who he was, not who he was trying to be.

Now, this certainly isn’t to say that his story is my story.  We can all be quite confident that when I’m gone, no one is going to pick up old far beyond frail albums and posthumously declare me my generation’s best songwriter.  While I’m more than fine with that, I wouldn’t be fine if I didn’t feel like I was constantly striving to become the very best artist I can be; to create at the highest level I’m able to.  If that’s my commitment to myself, it can’t be a commitment to an idea; it needs to be a commitment to a lifestyle.  Not a day without a line.

“I am an artist… And as far as I know, that word means: I am seeking, I am striving, I am in with all my heart – always seeking without absolutely finding.” – Vincent Van Gogh

Falling Out of Love

Posted on | May 14, 2010 | 279 Comments

When I was at Luther College, I heard a painter speak about his art in a way that very well may have altered the course of my life.  He said that a work of art is only truly realized when it is experienced by someone, and therefore, the act of putting it in front of people is as much a part of being an artist as the initial creation.  In other words, the business side of the industry is an extension of the art; to truly be an artist you need to be both inspired creator and savvy businessperson.  At that very moment I fell in love with everything that goes into placing music in the hands of people to experience it — booking shows, promoting them, contacting press, marketing yourself, and on and on.  After 7 years and thousands of hours devoted to those very tasks, I’m starting to wonder if I’m falling out of love with it.

You didn’t think this was going to be about my wife, did you?

In many ways, this revelation is threatening to shake the very core of who I consider myself to be; it’s scary, because I completely believe in what that painter was trying to say, and yet, I don’t want to face that there may be a part of being an artist that I’m no longer passionate about it.  But everyday, when my thoughts turn to all the things that I can and should be doing to further the music I’ve made with far beyond frail, I don’t feel the drive that has propelled me through 7 years of being an independent artist.  I just feel tired.

If you’re waiting for the conclusion…so am I.  As I mentioned in my first post, this blog is pages ripped from my journal and will probably be filled with more questions than answers.  What I can say is that I’m going to turn my attention towards making music and try not to feel guilty about not promoting music.  Maybe, after a summer of writing and recording and doing the things that I first fell in love with, I can figure out where that passion has gone and whether it’s ever coming back.

Dear Theo

Posted on | May 8, 2010 | 2 Comments

When I was studying music and life on Martha’s Vineyard, one of the directors opened my eyes to a huge collection of letters written by Vincent van Gogh to his brother, Theo.  Having poured over these letters in the years since, I’ve come to think that van Gogh was not just catching Theo up on the happenings of the day, but through the act of putting pen to paper, was trying to understand his world.

Perhaps the reason these letters to Theo have meant so much to me is this has always been the case in my life — never have I fully understood or appreciated the world I’ve experienced until I’ve stared at a blank page and let my mind wander, looking down later to see a page full of thoughts I’d have never found had I not allowed myself the space to find them.

In a way, this blog is simply intended to be the pages that I think friends, family, and wanderers might like to read.  It’s my world in words and if you’ve stopped by, I hope you enjoy it.

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  • About Me

    My name is David Cecil. I write songs. I play in band called far beyond frail. I own a creative agency called Johnny Lightning Strikes Again. This is my blog.
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