Originality

C.S. Lewis

My friend Sancho sent me a great quote yesterday, which, for me, captures the nature of originality. Recently, I told James Hall, the owner of the Oxford Gallery here, that Van Gogh’s unique style was the result of everything he couldn’t do as a painter, in a technical sense, and he laughed. But it’s true. Originality doesn’t require any effort other than the intense concentration needed to get something right, without any thought given to being different or new or fresh and all the quirks of how you are able, and unable, to paint emerge in that effort, on their own. Your own individuality, especially your limitations, will give the work an original feel, on its own:

. . . in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.

C.S. Lewis

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