Why Artists Starve

“”Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings.” – Salvador Dali

“This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you.”

So sang Don Maclean in “Vincent” (a.k.a. “Starry, Starry Night”), his tribute to Van Gogh.

Was Vincent Van Gogh too beautiful for this world?

I don’t think so.

He was someone who was functional when he painted – but at no other time. He had no idea how to sell his work. He had no idea how to get along with people. His mind was filled with little more than negative images, not only of himself but of the world at large.

Salvador Dali, on the other hand, sold his paintings all over the world while he was living. He connected with people while he was alive. He was engaging and alive in virtually everything he did. When he spoke, people listened.

Dali was a good friend of Dr. Maxwell Maltz. He was also a fan of Psycho-Cybernetics. So much so that he created a painting for Dr. Maltz and gave it to him as a gift. This same painting appears on the cover of The New Psycho-Cybernetics – the revised edition featuring Dr. Maltz and Dan Kennedy. (It’s available at .amazon.com.)

What did Dali understand that Van Gogh – not to mention all the other starving artists out there – didn’t?

First, Dali understood that starvation is not glamorous. He understood that there is no such thing as being “too beautiful for this world.” You either get what you want out of life or you don’t.

Second, Dali understood that there are two orientations toward life: One moves toward the sun, one toward darkness. He understood that you can sail on a sea of calm waters with a helmsman on board your vessel – or you can choose a directionless life, floundering on a raging sea of frustration and failure.

Third, Dali understood that you can view yourself and what you do as valuable … or as unimportant.

Fourth, Dali realized that you can see yourself as larger than life – or you can see yourself as no larger than a small potato.

Last, Dali understood that it isn’t talent that causes success. He realized it has far more to do with something called “self-image.” He understood that talent is everywhere – but most people with talent have negative images of the possibilities life offers.

Dali became larger than life while on this earth and afterward. His success began on the inside. He pictured more than what he painted on a canvas. His mind was filled with images of success – so he moved toward those images and received them.

Van Gogh’s mind was filled with negatives – and he got what he thought about. It was only when his negative mind was removed from the equation that his paintings sold. If he were still alive, he’d still be starving … because that’s how he thought of himself.

Van Gogh got from life what he pictured but didn’t paint.

So did Dali.

In your own life, you have a choice to make: to be like Dali – or like Van Gogh. One was a prosperous artist; the other starved. Both had immense talent – but talent doesn’t make for a successful life.

The key to greatness lies in the way you think – the way you think about your life and what you want from it.

Keep your mental pictures off the things you don’t want – and make sure you never add Van Gogh-like negative emotion to the things you do want. If you do that, you’re inviting failure … even tragedy.

Picture the good things you want with happy, outlandish, outrageous, Dali-like emotion – then stand back and observe those things becoming part of your reality.

Follow the same type of thinking used by the great Salvador Dali. Sail through life on calm waters with a helmsman in control of your life.