The mind of a creative genius is a strange and fascinating thing. Great artists have not only affected society and the subjective experience for millennia, but they also offer fascinating insights into why they do what they do. Today, we’ll share some inspirational quotes on art from great painters.
Table of Contents
- 1 Famous Quotes About Art
- 2 Frequently Asked Questions
Famous Quotes About Art
Many artists are not great wordsmiths or conservationists. The way they communicate is through their art. Yet, sometimes they manage to find the words that convey the message behind the art. These art quotes give us insight into what drives artists to create.
Art as Conversation
Some artists consider art to be a form of communication. Although art is frequently a visual medium, it may communicate just as well as words. In many circumstances, it’s even more powerful than words! Georgia O’Keeffe claimed that art, like language, was capable of conveying what she intended to say better. Pablo Picasso, another brilliant artist, compared painting to keeping a journal. He illustrates how comparable the fields of the arts may be by describing replacing a paintbrush with a pen.
It’s not so much about whether you’re a painter or a writer; they’re two different kinds of the same beast. We may also speculate that all forms of creation draw from the same source of brilliance.
Georgia O’Keeffe photographed by Alfred Stieglitz, 1932; Alfred Stieglitz, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way—things I had no words for.” – Georgia O’Keeffe
“Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.” – Pablo Picasso
“The emotions are sometimes so strong that I work without knowing it. The strokes come like speech.” – Vincent van Gogh
“If I could say it in words there would be no reason to paint.” – Edward Hopper
Nighthawks (1942) by Edward Hopper; Edward Hopper, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
The Purpose of the Artist
Other artists have eloquently stated the goal of their work. As you might anticipate, each artist saw their mission in the same way that they saw their work. Giacometti was most renowned for his sculptures, but he also made other types of art.
The comment from him below perfectly encapsulates what he was able to achieve with his works.
The nature of this Picasso art quotation leads one to believe that producing art was a sort of replenishing or cleaning process for him. It’s intriguing to see the act of creation as revealing a younger or cleaner version of oneself.
Portrait photograph of Pablo Picasso, in front of his painting The Aficionado (Kunstmuseum Basel) at Villa les Clochettes, Sorgues, France, summer 1912; Anonymous Unknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
“The object of art is not to reproduce reality, but to create a reality of the same intensity.” – Alberto Giacometti
“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” – Pablo Picasso
“An artist is not paid for his labor but for his vision.” – James McNeill Whistler
“As I work at my drawings, day after day, what seemed unattainable before is now gradually becoming possible. Slowly, I’m learning to observe and measure. I don’t stand quite so helpless before nature any longer.” – Vincent van Gogh
“Art is unquestionably one of the purest and highest elements in human happiness. It trains the mind through the eye and the eye through the mind. As the sun colors flowers, so does art color life.” – John Lubbock
Sir John Lubbock, 1913; Internet Archive Book Images, No restrictions, via Wikimedia Commons
The Spiritual Side of Art
Piet Mondrian has a unique perspective on the subject. He considers making art to be a spiritual practice as if the work is being done by a larger Being. It’s a remarkably passive posture. Nature and God were huge influences on Rembrandt’s work during his lifetime, and they continue to have an impact on art and artists today.
“The position of the artist is humble. He is essentially a channel.” – Piet Mondrian
“Painting is the grandchild of nature. It is related to God.” – Rembrandt van Rijn
Artist Quotes for Inspiration
Every artist, whether a novice or a seasoned pro, needs a little pick-me-up now and again to get over a lousy piece of work they believed would turn out nicely or to break through the artist’s block. Here are some select quotes to help you get through your own block. These art quotes are great for getting inspired.
“Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get the work done. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you’re not going to make an awful lot of work”. – Chuck Close
“If you as a designer don’t believe in your design and don’t see it beyond the context of the film, instead of as a real creature in the real world then how can you expect the audience to believe it?” – Peter Jackson
“Anything I cannot transform into something marvelous, I let go. Reality doesn’t impress me. I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy, and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another. No more walls.” – Anaïs Nin
“Whoever wants to know something about me, they should look attentively at my pictures and there seek to recognize what I am and what I want.” – Gustav Klimt
Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I (Adele Bloch-Bauer I) (1907) by Gustav Klimt; Gustav Klimt, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
“When I paint, I never think of selling. People fail to understand that we paint in order to experiment and to develop ourselves as we strive for greater heights.” – Edvard Munch
“All these months I’ve been trying to find find a pattern. Trying not so much to draw hands as gestures. Not so many faces as the expressions of people.” – Vincent van Gogh
“It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure.” – Albert Einstein
“Life is sometimes hard. Things go wrong, in life and in love and in business and in friendship and in health and in all other ways that life can go wrong. And when things get tough, this is what you should do. Make good art”. – Neil Gaiman
“He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.” – Saint Francis of Assisi
“The great artists of the past were aware that human life is full of chaos and suffering. But they had a remedy for this. And the name of that remedy was ‘beauty’. The beautiful work of art brings consolation in sorrow and affirmation in joy. It shows human life to be worthwhile”. – Roger Scruton
March rhythms from Roger Scruton’s The Aesthetics of Music, 1997; The original uploader was Hyacinth at English Wikipedia., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Quotes About Art for Staying Focused
Every artist has doubts. These quotes about art concentrate on how artists stay focused, and their reason for creating. They might help you do the same.
“If you hear a voice within you saying, ‘You are not a painter,’ then by all means paint… and that voice will be silenced.” – Vincent van Gogh
“Drawing things makes them seem more real and makes me feel more alive. It also makes me pin down and remember things landscapes, season, weather, occasions, incidents, people that would otherwise have melted from my memory.” – David Gentleman
“Drawing is a form of probing. And the first generic impulse to draw derives from the human need to search, to plot points, to place things and to place oneself.” – John Berger
“Never worry about being obsessive. I like obsessive people. Obsessive people make great art.” – Susan Sontag
“There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who, with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into sun.” – Pablo Picasso
“Drawing is still basically the same as it has been since prehistoric times. It brings together man and the world. It lives through magic.” – Keith Haring
“It is not enough to know your craft; you have to have feeling. Science is all very well, but for us imagination is worth far more.” – Édouard Manet
Artist Quotes on the Joy of Art
Why do artists create? Is it the release of the feelings that cannot be put into words? These inspirational quotes on art deal with the joys and woes of art creation.
Self-Portrait in a Circle of Friends from Mantua (c. 1602) by Peter Paul Rubens; Peter Paul Rubens, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
“Every child has the spirit of creation. The rubbish of life often exterminates the spirit through plague and a soul’s own wretchedness”. – Peter Paul Rubens
“It is only by drawing often, drawing everything, drawing incessantly, that one fine day you discover, to your surprise, that you have rendered something in its true character.” – Camille Pissarro
“When I’m painting, I’m not aware of what I’m doing. It’s only after a ‘get acquainted period’ that I see what I’ve been about.” – Jackson Pollock
“The mind loves the unknown. It loves images whose meaning is unknown since the meaning of the mind itself is unknown.” – René Magritte
“Once I knew that I wanted to be an artist, I had made myself into one. I did not understand that wanting doesn’t always lead to action. Many of the women had been raised without the sense that they could mold and shape their own lives, and so, wanting to be an artist (but without the ability to realize their wants) was, for some of them, only an idle fantasy, like wanting to go to the moon.” – Judy Chicago
“Every good composition is above all a work of abstraction. All good painters know this. But the painter cannot dispense with subjects altogether without his work suffering impoverishment.” – Diego Rivera
Art Quotes About the Creative Process
Where do artists start? How do they keep going when things are tough? What art quotes give us insight into their creative processes?
Liberty Leading the People (1830) by Eugène Delacroix; Eugène Delacroix, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
“If you are not skillful enough to sketch a man jumping out of a window in the time it takes him to fall from the fourth story to the ground, you will never be able to produce great works.” – Eugène Delacroix
“Color provokes a psychic vibration. Color hides a power still unknown but real, which acts on every part of the human body.” – Wassily Kandinsky
“What I am seeking is not the real and not the unreal but rather the unconscious, the mystery of the instinctive in the human race.” – Amadeo Modigliani
Jean Hebuterne with large hat (1918) by Amadeo Modigliani; Amedeo Modigliani, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
“Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing–and keeping the unknown always beyond you.” – Georgia O’Keeffe
“I can’t understand how anyone is able to paint without optimism. Despite the general pessimistic attitude in the world today, I am nothing but an optimist.” – Hans Hofmann
“To any artist, worthy of the name, all in nature is beautiful, because his eyes, fearlessly accepting all exterior truth, read there, as in an open book, all the inner truth.” – Auguste Rodin
“A really good picture looks as if it’s happened at once. It’s an immediate image. For my own work, when a picture looks labored and overworked. I usually throw these out, though I think very often it takes ten of those over-labored efforts to produce one really beautiful wrist motion that is synchronized with your head and heart, and you have it, and therefore it looks as if it were born in a minute” – Helen Frankenthaler
“One who knows how to appreciate color relationships, the influence of one color with another, their contrasts and dissonances, is promised an infinite variety of images.” – Sonia Delaunay
Sonia Delaunay wearing Casa Sonia creations, Madrid, c. 1918-1920; Anonymous Unknown author, possibly by Zockoll, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
“Great art is the outward expression of an inner life of the artist, and this inner life will result in his personal vision of the world.” – Edward Hopper
“I was not ready for abstraction. I clung to the earth and her dear shapes, her density, her herbage, her juice. I wanted her volume, and I wanted to hear her throb.” – Emily Carr
“I was the first woman to paint cleanly, and that was the basis of my success. From a hundred pictures, mine will always stand out. And so the galleries began to hang my work in their best rooms, always in the middle, because my painting was attractive. It was precise. It was ‘finished.’” – Tamara de Lempicka
And that wraps up our look at some famous art quotes. These quotes about art reveal so much about the people who create the artworks we love. These artist quotes might be helpful for you on your journey of self-expression and artistic discovery. Also read our photography quotes article.
Take a look at our famous art quotes webstory here!
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Are Art Quotes Important?
Sometimes art can be very subjective. Getting insight from the artist directly offers us a glimpse into the inner workings of their minds. Through understanding their quotes, perhaps we can better understand their artworks too.
What Can We Learn From Famous Quotes About Art?
Maybe you are at the start of your own art journey, or maybe you are stuck in a bit of an artistic block. If that is the case, then hearing how other artists deal with these same experiences will help you better understand your own artistic goals. These quotes serve as both inspirational and practical reminders that every artist experiences challenges on their journey to artistic expression.
Isabella studied at the University of Cape Town in South Africa and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in English Literature & Language and Psychology. Throughout her undergraduate years, she took Art History as an additional subject and absolutely loved it. Building on from her art history knowledge that began in high school, art has always been a particular area of fascination for her. From learning about artworks previously unknown to her, or sharpening her existing understanding of specific works, the ability to continue learning within this interesting sphere excites her greatly.
Her focal points of interest in art history encompass profiling specific artists and art movements, as it is these areas where she is able to really dig deep into the rich narrative of the art world. Additionally, she particularly enjoys exploring the different artistic styles of the 20th century, as well as the important impact that female artists have had on the development of art history.
Cite this Article
Isabella, Meyer, “Art Quotes – Looking at the Most Inspirational Quotes on Art.” Art in Context. May 11, 2022. URL: https://artincontext.org/art-quotes/
Meyer, I. (2022, 11 May). Art Quotes – Looking at the Most Inspirational Quotes on Art. Art in Context. https://artincontext.org/art-quotes/