I had the great fortune of seeing the "Becoming Vincent" exhibit at the Denver Art Museum and was truly moved. I've always been drawn to the Impressionists, and Van Gogh has been a favorite. However, I wasn't moved simply because of Van Gogh's incredible use of line, color, and light. It was because Vincent constantly sought to improve upon his work.
He continually integrated new ideas into his work. From his dark pastoral scenes in Holland, he started adding brighter colors when he went to Paris. After viewing prints from Japan, he explored the lines and shapes similar to visually appealing prints. After being criticized for how poorly he drew the human form, he practiced until it became natural.
Vincent Van Gogh understood the importance of practice in his painting. As he wrote to his brother Theo: "As practice makes perfect, I cannot but make progress; each drawing one makes, each study one paints, is a step forward." Vincent was motivated to continuous improvement, an understood that practice and stretching oneself, through exploring different styles and ideas, was one path.