Feel free to read or listen (and read along) with the video above.
Hey there, my name is Theo Van Mouse. I’m the brother of Vincent Van Mouse.
This is my brother in his happy place. He does look happy, doesn’t he?
My brother loved to paint, but he didn’t know it until he was 27 years old. And it took me a while to figure out that he was painting the world in his head way before he ever touched a canvas.
I can tell you, he wasn’t always happy and it took me a while to get to the point where I could help him one day become one of the most celebrated artists of this century and the next. My one regret is that I couldn’t do this for him while he was alive.
But I know my brother is happy now because this is how I imagine him.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Let me tell you the story of my brother Vincent Van Mouse and how he finally got to be the mouse he wanted to be.
It all started when Vicent was a child, it wasn’t that long aog. He and I would wander the countryside to explore nature. Our favorite thing to do was to lay in the wheat fields to look at the clouds go by. Vincent would see all of these amazing creatures we’d never actually seen in real life. He would name each one and tell me a story about their adventures through the clouds with such animation I knew he saw the whole thing in his head as he told me the story.
His mind always amazed me. I didn’t understand how he could see those stories. How could he see the flow of the clouds before they moved to the next scene?
And unfortunately, it wasn’t just me that wondered about this. All the other mice in our village didn’t understand how Vincent’s mind worked. Instead of admiring how creative he was like I did, they ridiculed him.
I watched my brother become tormented. He had external tormentors by mice who didn’t understand him and he was such a sensitive loving mouse that he took their torments to heart.
He became sad and depressed. The world became dark and blue to him as the lens of sadness took over.
He tried to fit in with everyone else by seeking a ‘respectable job’ as a teacher, book store worker and even apprenticed as a pastor. All rejected him. Even his religious mentor rejected him as a pastor.
But with rejection comes opportunity and thankfully I was able to help my brother. And much to my surprise, my big brother let me help him live the life he dreamed of.
I saw that my brother would never be like the ‘normal’ mice. And for that I was glad. Those mice were boring! They were driven to work for money, fame, for notoriety. Those things didn’t drive Vincent. What interested my brother was his love of the world. And much of the world that Vincent loved was in his head where only he could see. He just needed the support so that what he saw he could make visible for others to see.
Through his eyes, the world was an energetic mass of fluid movements where one thing moved to another.
When he was 27 years old he started painting, and I did my best to give him what he needed to be happy. Because when he started painting, he was at his happiest.
My wife and I were glad to give Vincent money, supplies to paint, and a place to stay. I have to say, while he was a pastor he learned to live simply. All he ever needed was a bed, canvas, paint supplies, his hat, and good walking shoes. With everything in his satchel, he would wander the countryside creating the stories he saw on his canvas for us to enjoy.
He was amazing to watch paint. He was quick, focused, and made fluid movements with the paint as though he could feel the movements of the world. You could feel his energy flowing from the thing that he painted onto the canvas.
Vincent was truly in the flow with the universe when he painted.
From age 27 to 37 my brother taught himself to paint and found joy in the world that didn’t understand him. I admire my brother for so many reasons, his persistence, perseverance, and most of all, I admire him for his bravery to share what he sees with all of those who didn’t understand, including me.
So this is how I picture my big brother. He has his haystacks, his comfy bed, his handpicked sunflowers, and his starry night.
He looks happy, doesn't he.
About this short story from the author:
While some of the tidbits in this story are true about Vincent Van Gogh’s life and his brother, Theo, some I created because I imagine the love and respect these brothers had for one another. From what I’ve learned of Theo based on his giving nature to his brother, he wanted the best for his misunderstood brother and so he gave what he could. This, in my mind, should be just as celebrated as Vincent’s work. After all, an artist cannot be an artist without the support of those who love them.
Let's Chat About the Story - Ideas for Talking with Kids
Everyone is born seeing differently, literally. We all have a different number of rods and cones in our eyes that interpret color. But it goes beyond color! Our experiences impact how we see things.
- When you look at the painting of Vincent Van Mouse: What color stands out to you the most?
- What story would you give this mouse as to why he has sunflowers on the table?