My dear Theo,
Now that the week is over I’m writing to you again. I’ve had a model every day on a regular basis, from morning to evening, and the model is good. Mauve came to have a look, and Mr Tersteeg too, and I’m glad about that.
I’ve been working all this time with watercolour only, and it’s giving me more pleasure every day.
How much I’d like you to be here, I’d have so much to tell and to ask you. Will you come again in the spring? Won’t you know a little in advance?
Now, what I’ve made still isn’t good and is far from being so, but it’s again something different and it’s somewhat stronger and livelier in colour, and without body-colour.
Now I hope that you’ll write to me again soon, and that we’ll definitely try to reach an agreement about the money.
Because although I’d be able to get by on 100 francs a month on my own, it’s a very different matter when I also have to pay and feed my model every day &c. &c. And then the cost of paint, paper &c. I already told you in my last letter that this is what determines whether I can work at full speed or half speed.
1v:2 And now that I’m here, all kinds of little expenses crop up every day, and they don’t make life any easier.
Well, for a while I carried on steadily nevertheless, but now I have no money.
It’s natural that when one sets up house somewhere there are all kinds of expenses. But what I win by it is that I feel I’m progressing, and I’ll master the art of watercolour, and it needn’t even take very long before my work is saleable.
Mr Tersteeg himself said something about it, and when I succeed in a small format then I think he’ll buy something. And I’ve worked more on that drawing of that little old woman I sent you a sketch of,1 and one day it will be sold.
Believe me, I work, I struggle, I swot the whole day, and with pleasure, too, but as it is now I’d also become very discouraged if I couldn’t go on working just as hard or even harder.
If you write to Mr Tersteeg about it, he’ll gladly give you credit for an amount you set yourself, and if he wants to he can check and see what I spend it on if he or you don’t trust me. But it would be terrible not to go on working as I have been the last three weeks or so. With regard to the size of the drawings or the subjects, I’ll gladly listen to what Mr T. or Mauve has to say about it. I’ve been working on several large ones recently, because no matter what, I must get over that dry manner in which my studies of this summer were done. And Mauve actually said yesterday evening, although he naturally had some criticism as well, ‘it’s beginning to look like a watercolour’. Well, if I gain that much, then I reckon I’m squandering neither time nor money. And now that I’ve tried out the handling of the brush and the power of colours in a larger format, I can attempt smaller ones again. As a matter of fact, I have two small ones started, but because I was wrestling with them and sponged part of them out, I started on a really large one. Of which I’m sending you a sketch.2
It surprises me a little that you haven’t written to me again, because you’ve written to me only once since I’ve been here, and then only briefly.3
And yet it’s very necessary that you write to me soon. Mauve was just4 here again and I at his place too, he again had this and that to tell me. And Mr Tersteeg was also here and talked about my starting a couple of drawings in a smaller format. Well, so for the coming week, which starts tomorrow, I have work enough but not money enough, I fear, because all I have left is 2.50 guilders and a couple of cents. What should I do now? If I were to go to Mauve or Mr Tersteeg and ask them, I don’t think they’d refuse me. But Mauve has done so much already, and I’d rather sell Mr Tersteeg a couple of small drawings, if they succeed, than ask him to lend me money. At least as long as there’s no definite agreement as to where I stand. So answer me soon and, if you will, do either one or the other: send me something to keep me going or write about it to Mr Tersteeg. Theo, I feel an energy in
2v:6 me and I’m doing what I can to release it and set it free. I have trouble enough struggling and wrestling with my drawings, and if this were compounded by dreadful worries and I couldn’t keep the models, then I wouldn’t know what to do. It’s awful that you have to pay for it all, but we aren’t as alone as we were last winter, for example. I now feel that I’m on a better path to get results. I’ll do what I can, I’ll work hard and, as soon as I’ve mastered the brush, even harder than I’m now able to. And if we press on with vigour and energy, it won’t be long before you no longer have to send me anything. Well, old chap, keep on doing what you can and I’ll also do what I can. Adieu, I’m counting on your writing soon, you don’t have to send a lot all at once, if only I can go on from week to week. Accept a handshake in thought,