16 December 1920

16 December 1920

Villa Isola Bella, Menton, France

About that primitive outlook. It doesn't need reviving. We've got it. It comes with seeing & feeling as deeply and truly as we are capable of. I mean by that nothing self conscious - God forbid - but just a kind of simple acceptance of Life as an artist must see it. The freshness is all there. Everything is to our hand. The whole secret is to give ourselves up to it in the right way.
What you quote from Van Gogh is very fine. I could give you its twin sentence if I had Tchekhov's letters here. Tchekhov felt just like that. I too, suspect and don't feel comfortable in this "art life". What I mean is when Brett used to write me endless pages about good & bad art I always wanted to hang my head because I felt she wasn't working. She wasn't really getting down to it (dont misunderstand me) humbly.
See dear Richard you show your reverence for your job in the way you approach it. I don't believe there are any short cuts to Art. Victory is the reward of battle just exactly as it is in Life. And the more one knows of ones ‘soldiers' the better chance one has. Thats, not an absolutely true analogy tho'. The thing is more subtle.
But what I do believe with my whole soul is that one's outlook is the climate in which ones art either thrives or doesn't grow. I am dead certain that there is no separating Art & Life. And no artist can afford to leave out Life. If we mean to work we must go straight to Life for our nourishment. There's no substitute. But I am violent on this subjeck. I must leave it. [To Richard Murry in Collected Letters, c. 9 December 1920]