Wanderings of an artist in the trenches.

Wonderful Artists’ Quotes

Here are some amazing quotes by even more amazing artists. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do:

My candle burns at both ends; / It will not last the night; / But, ah, my foes, and, oh, my friends – / It gives a lovely light. (Edna St. Vincent Millay)

Always lines, never forms! But where do they find these lines in Nature! For my part I see only forms that are lit up and forms that are not. There is only light and shadow. (Francisco de Goya)

You have the sky overhead giving one light; then the reflected light from whatever reflects; then the direct light of the sun; so that, in the blending and suffusing of these several luminations, there is no such thing as a line to be seen anywhere. (Winslow Homer)

Paint your picture by means of the lights. Lights define texture and color – shadows define form. (Howard Pyle)

The picture must radiate light, the bodies have their own light which they consume to live: they burn, they are not lit from outside. (Egon Schiele)

Available light is any damn light that is available! (W. Eugene Smith)

There was never a night that could defeat sunrise. (unknown)

A gray day provides the best light. (Leonardo da Vinci)

The vivacity and brightness of colors in a landscape will never bear any comparison with a landscape in nature when it is illumined by the sun, unless the painting is placed in such a position that it will receive the same light from the sun as does the landscape. (Leonardo da Vinci)

Light first, value second, color third. (Linda Walker)

As light fades and the shadows deepen, all petty and exacting details vanish, everything trivial disappears, and I see things as they are in great strong masses: the buttons are lost, but the sitter remains; the sitter is lost, but the shadow remains; the shadow is lost, but the picture remains. And that, night cannot efface from the painter’s imagination. (James Abbot McNeill Whistler)

I have had three masters, Nature, Velasquez, and Rembrandt. (Francisco de Goya)

It’s all in how you arrange the thing… the careful balance of the design is the motion. (Andrew Wyeth)

I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape – the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn’t show. (Andrew Wyeth)

My aim is not to exhibit craft, but rather to submerge it, and make it rightfully the handmaiden of beauty, power and emotional content. (Andrew Wyeth)

-The Helga Pictures
My struggle is to preserve that abstract flash – like something you caught out of the corner of your eye, but in the picture you can look at it directly. (Andrew Wyeth)

If you clean it up, get analytical, all the subtle joy and emotion you felt in the first place goes flying out the window. (Andrew Wyeth)

If you paint a man leaning over, your own back must ache. (N. C. Wyeth)

Paint should not be applied thick. It should be like a breath on the surface of a pane of glass. (James Abbot McNeill Whistler)

Throw your heart into the picture and then jump in after it. (Howard Pyle)

I criticise these compositions by analysis but an illustration cannot be made that way – it must be made by inspiration. (Howard Pyle)

Project your mind into your subject until you actually live in it. (Howard Pyle)

Your subjects have had a history – try to reveal it in your picture. (Howard Pyle)

Paint ideas, paint thought. (Howard Pyle)

Look at nature, work independently, and solve your own problems. (Winslow Homer)

I prefer every time a picture composed and painted outdoors. The thing is done without your knowing it. (Winslow Homer)

Hardening of the categories causes art disease. (W. Eugene Smith)

Passion is in all great searches and is necessary to all creative endeavors. (W. Eugene Smith)

If I can get them to think, get them to feel, get them to see, then I’ve done about all that I can as a teacher. (W. Eugene Smith)

How do you paint yellow wheat against a yellow sky? You paint it jet black. (Ben Shahn)

Paint what you are, paint what you believe, paint what you feel. (Ben Shahn)

Of course you will say that I ought to be practical and ought to try and paint the way they want me to paint. Well, I will tell you a secret. I have tried and I have tried very hard, but I can’t do it. I just can’t do it! And that is why I am just a little crazy. (Rembrandt)

Painting is the grandchild of nature. It is related to God. (Rembrandt)

Without atmosphere a painting is nothing. (Rembrandt)

You can’t do sketches enough. Sketch everything and keep your curiosity fresh. (John Singer Sargent)

To work is to pray. (John Singer Sargent)

-on painting a watercolour…
Make the best of an emergency. (John Singer Sargent)

I was hard at work beneath the cliff… In short, absorbed as I was, I didn’t see a huge wave coming; it threw me against the cliff and I was tossed about… My immediate thought was that I was done for… the palette which I had kept a grip on had been knocked over my face and my beard was covered in blue, yellow etc…. the worst of it was that I lost my painting which was very soon broken up… everything was torn to shreds by the sea… (Claude Monet)

I’m not performing miracles, I’m using up and wasting a lot of paint… (Claude Monet)

I’m in a foul mood as I’m making stupid mistakes… This morning I lost beyond repair a painting with which I had been happy, having done about twenty sessions on it; it had to be thoroughly scraped away… what a rage I was in! (Claude Monet)

I would like to paint the way a bird sings. (Claude Monet)

I think only of my painting, and if I were to drop it, I think I’d go crazy. (Claude Monet)

Happy are the young people who believe that it is easy. (Claude Monet)

When you go out to paint try to forget what object you have before you – a tree, a house, a field or whatever. Merely think, here is a little square of blue, here an oblong of pink, here a streak of yellow, and paint it just as it looks to you, the exact colour and shape, until it emerges as your own naive impression of the scene before you. (Claude Monet)

What is it that’s taken hold of me, for me to carry on like this in relentless pursuit of something beyond my powers? (Claude Monet)

Paint what you really see, not what you think you ought to see; not the object isolated as in a test tube, but the object enveloped in sunlight and atmosphere, with the blue dome of Heaven reflected in the shadows. (Claude Monet)

-in the floating studio…
Today I drifted with Camille on the Seine at Argenteuil. The views materialized and dissolved and I was as contented as a cow in her stall. (Claude Monet)

Critic asks: “And what, sir, is the subject matter of that painting?” – “The subject matter, my dear good fellow, is the light.” (Claude Monet)

As for myself, I met with as much success as I could ever have wanted. In other words, I was enthusiastically run-down by every critic of the period. (Claude Monet)

-at Giverny, January 15, 1915…
I sometimes feel ashamed that I am devoting myself to artistic pursuits while so many of our people are suffering and dying for us. It’s true that fretting never did any good. (Claude Monet)

I began to understand my sensations, to know what I wanted, at around the age of forty – but only vaguely. At fifty, that is in 1880, I formulated the idea of unity, without being able to render it. At sixty, I am beginning to see the possibility of rendering it. (Camille Pissarro)

Paint the essential character of things. (Camille Pissarro)

Painting, art in general, enchants me. It is my life. What else matters? When you put all your soul into a work, all that is noble in you, you cannot fail to find a kindred soul who understands you, and you do not need a host of such spirits. Is not that all an artist should wish for? (Camille Pissarro)

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)

I sometimes have a horrible fear of turning up a canvas of mine. I’m always afraid of finding a monster in place of the precious jewels I thought I had put there! (Camille Pissarro)

Work at the same time on sky, water, branches, ground, keeping everything going on an equal basis… Don’t be afraid of putting on colour… Paint generously and unhesitatingly, for it is best not to lose the first impression. (Camille Pissarro)

Cover the canvas at the first go, then work at it until you see nothing more to add. (Camille Pissarro)

It is the brushwork of the right value and color which should produce the drawing. (Camille Pissarro)

God takes care of imbeciles, little children and artists. (Camille Pissarro)

Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing. (Camille Pissarro)

The motif must always be set down in a simple way, easily grasped and understood by the beholder. By the elimination of superfluous detail, the spectator should be led along the road that the artist indicates to him, and from the first be made to notice what the artist has felt. (Alfred Sisley)

Winter… that feeling of quiet and all nature is hushed to silence. (John H. Twachtman)

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


12 responses

  1. Great shot in the arm, George – thanks!

    February 28, 2011 at 12:14 PM

    • Thanks, Jeff!

      Glad you’re visiting on here! Your input is always appreciated.


      March 18, 2011 at 4:32 PM

  2. shawn

    Almost all of my favorite artists! Thanks for the quotes.

    February 28, 2011 at 4:27 PM

    • Thanks, Shawn,

      Glad you found them of interest. If you’ve got any to add, please feel free!


      March 18, 2011 at 4:31 PM

  3. Marlene O'Connor

    a shot in the arm for me too, very inspiring teachings here, and from many of my favorites also, and some new ones like W. Eugene Smith who I looked up, and loved the images.

    March 1, 2011 at 7:44 AM

    • Marlene,

      Glad this hits home. Eugene Smith is one of the greatest of the photojournalists. I LOVE his stuff, and his message. Just a great artist.


      March 18, 2011 at 4:28 PM

  4. “I am so rich I must give myself away!”
    -Egon Schiele

    I think it applies here. I’m always grateful at how freely spread your wisdom and your time. Thanks for the quotes!

    March 4, 2011 at 7:06 PM

    • Vincent,

      Your participation on the blog is much appreciated. Thanks for the Egon quote.


      March 18, 2011 at 4:28 PM

  5. Edward Kinsella

    Thank you for posting these George. Your blog is crazy inspiring!!!

    March 15, 2011 at 10:46 PM

    • Ted,

      Thanks for visiting the blog. Man, if you could hit the post on Good Student, Bad Student and throw in some of your own observations that would be great.

      In fact, it would be much appreciated if everyone offers up their two cents on that post, and any others here. The back and forth is fuel for thought and for future posts. Any ideas you’d like me to tackle on here please let me know.

      Hope to see you at the Academy this year, Ted! We still have to plan some kind of sketchbook journey somewhere!


      March 18, 2011 at 4:31 PM

  6. Pingback: What’s The Rush? | Walter Kitty's Diary

  7. jim

    Thanks from Chicago!

    July 29, 2011 at 1:21 PM

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