Quotes About Art

I am an artist… I am here to live out loud.

—Emile Zola

The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape, from a spider’s web.

—Pablo Picasso

The function of art is to disturb. Science reassures.

—George Braque

To create one’s own world in any of the arts takes courage.

—Georgia O’Keeffe

It has bothered me all my life that I do not paint like everybody else.

—Henri Matisse

Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.

—Henry Ward Beecher

Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.

—Pablo Picasso

Go and make interesting mistakes, make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules. Leave the world more interesting for your being here. Make. Good. Art.

—Neil Gaiman

When you buy from an independent artist, you are buying more than just a painting. You are buying hundreds of hours of experimentation and thousands of failures. You are buying days, weeks, months, years of frustration and moments of pure joy. You aren’t just buying a thing, you are buying a piece of heart, part of a soul, a private moment in someone’s life. Most importantly, you are buying that artist more time to do something they are truly passionate about; something that makes all the above worth the fear and the doubt; something that puts the life into the living.

—Rebekah Joy Plett

Why should you think that beauty, which is the most precious thing in the world, lies like a stone on the beach for the careless passer-by to pick up idly? Beauty is something wonderful and strange that the artist fashions out of the chaos of the world in the torment of his soul. And when he has made it, it is not given to all to know it. To recognize it you must repeat the adventure of the artist. It is a melody that he sings to you, and to hear it again in your own heart you want knowledge and sensitiveness and imagination.

—from The Moon and Sixpence by W.S. Maugham

The most demanding part of living a lifetime as an artist is the strict discipline of forcing oneself to work steadfastly along the nerve of one’s own intimate sensitivity.

—Anne Truitt

Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one.

—Stella Adler

I want to touch people with my art. I want them to say ‘he feels deeply, he feels tenderly.’

—Vincent van Gogh

Your responsibility as an artist is to experiment.


Everything in art must spring from the movement of our whole life-stream, of our whole being — including the unconscious.

—Marc Chagall

I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else.

—Pablo Picasso

I do not literally paint that table, but the emotion it produces upon me.

—Henri Matisse

The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.

—Friedrich Nietzsche

So build yourself as beautiful as you want your world to be. Wrap yourself in light then give yourself away with your heart, your brush, your march, your art, your poetry, your play. And for every day you paint the war, take a week and paint the beauty, the color, the shape of the landscape you’re marching towards. Everyone knows what you’re against; show them what you’re for.

—Andrea Gibson

The justification of art is the internal combustion it ignites in the hearts of men and not its shallow, externalized, public manifestations. The purpose of art is not the release of a momentary ejection of adrenaline but is, rather, the gradual, lifelong construction of a state of wonder and serenity.

—Glenn Gould

There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality.

—Pablo Picasso

The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without the work.

—Emile Zola

Artmaking involves skills that can be learned….In large measure, becoming an artist consists of learning to accept yourself, which makes your work personal, and in following your own voice, which makes your work distinctive. Clearly, these qualities can be nurtured by others. But even talent is rarely distinguishable, over the long run, from perseverance and lots of hard work.

—David Bayles / Ted Orland

What am I in the eyes of most people — a nonentity, an eccentric, or an unpleasant person — somebody who has no position in society and will never have; in short, the lowest of the low. All right, then — even if that were absolutely true, then I should one day like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, has in his heart. That is my ambition, based less on resentment than on love in spite of everything, based more on a feeling of serenity than on passion. Though I am often in the depths of misery, there is still calmness, pure harmony and music inside me. I see paintings or drawings in the poorest cottages, in the dirtiest corners. And my mind is driven towards these things with an irresistible momentum.

—Vincent van Gogh

The artist is a collector of things imaginary or real. He accumulates things with the same enthusiasm that a little boy stuffs his pockets. The scrap heap and the museum are embraced with equal curiosity. He takes snapshots, makes notes and records impressions on tablecloths or newspapers, on backs of envelops or matchbooks. Why one thing and not another is part of the mystery, but he is omnivorous.

—Paul Rand

I think that one’s art is a growth inside one. I do not think one can explain growth. It is silent and subtle. One does not keep digging up a plant to see how it grows.

—Emily Carr

Every day I discover more and more beautiful things. It’s enough to drive one mad. I have such a desire to do everything, my head is bursting with it.

—Claude Monet

What seizes your imagination will affect everything. It will decide everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.

—Pedro Arrupe

What do you think an artist cares about? Does he think all day about fine wines and black tie affairs and what he’s gonna say at the next after dinner speech?…No. He lives only for that narcotic moment of creative bliss, a moment that may come once a decade…or never at all.

—Art School Confidential

I am an artist. It’s self-evident that what that word implies is looking for something all the time without ever finding it in full. It is the opposite of saying, ‘I know all about it. I’ve already found it.’ As far as I’m concerned, the word means, ‘I am looking. I am hunting for it, I am deeply involved.’

—Vincent van Gogh

The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good.

—Stanley Kubrick

The power of a painting has to come from the inside out, not the outside in. It’s not just an image. It’s an image with a body and that body has to contain its spirit…What’s behind it decides everything. How it starts will define how it ends.

—Sean Scully

There’s a small still center into which conception can arrive. And when it arrives, you make it welcome with your experience.

—Anne Truitt

Art is longing. You never arrive, but you keep going in the hope that you will.

—Anselm Kiefer

You can’t make either life or art, you have to work in the hole in between, which is undefined. That’s what makes the adventure of painting.

—Robert Rauschenberg

Art becomes a spiritual process depending upon the degree of commitment that you bring to it. Every experience becomes direct food for your art. Then your art teaches you about life.

—Nick Bantock

If I was asked to get rid of the Zen aesthetic and just keep one quality necessary to create art, I would say it’s trust. When you learn to trust yourself implicitly, you no longer need to prove something through your art. You simply allow it to come out, to be as it is. This is when creating art becomes effortless. It happens just as you grow your hair. It grows.

—John Daido Loori

Don’t only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the divine.

—Ludwig van Beethoven

The object isn’t to make art, it’s to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable.

—Robert Henri

The fact is that we are living in a time when the decision to be an artist, to continue to create in spite of everything that’s happening around us, IS a radical political act. This is, I feel, quite a dark time, potentially destructive to the best and most noble aspects of the human spirit. And that’s precisely why it is terribly important for artists in all disciplines to continue to create, even when it feels like there’s little market and little appreciation for our work. Just doing it, and making the difficult decision to continue to do it – to live creative lives that celebrate what life is and can be – is both defiant and affirming, and it’s crucially important. People need to know that someone they know – a neighbor, a friend, a cousin – is committed to the arts. Young people particularly need to know this.

—Beth Adams

Life is short. Life goes fast. And what I really want to do in my life is to bring something new, something beautiful and something filled with light into the world. I try to think of that every day so that I can remember why I am coming to my studio.

—Ross Bleckner

The greater the artist, the greater the doubt.

—Robert Hughes

The greatest opportunities for creative transformation are often lodged in our discontents. Art is an alchemical process that feeds on emotional energy. When we realize that a perfect equilibrium in our lives might not be the best basis for making art, then we can begin to re-vision our stress points. So rather than try to rid your life of tension, consider doing something more creative with it.

—Shaun McNiff