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Creative quotes and quotations
On Artists...


Art requires artists, who are a breed apart, it seems.

See also

art*, being different*, creativity, individuality, living creatively, people


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

Henry Ward Beecher

‘The ideal artist is he who knows everything, feels everything, experiences everything, and retains his experience in a spirit of wonder and feeds upon it with creative lust.’

George Bellows

‘The more I produce, the less I am certain. On the road along which the artist walks, night falls ever more densely. Finally, he dies blind.’

Albert Camus

‘The dignity of the artist lies in his duty of keeping awake the sense of wonder in the world.’

Marc Chagall

‘Lying in bed would be an altogether perfect and supreme experience if only one had a coloured pencil long enough to draw on the ceiling.’

G. K. Chesterton

‘The artist is not a man who describes, but a man who feels.’

E. E. Cummings

‘The defining function of the artist is to cherish consciousness.’

Max Eastman

‘I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination.’

Albert Einstein

‘The progress of an artist is a continual self-sacrifice, a continual extinction of personality.’

T. S. Eliot

‘Every artist writes his own autobiography.’

Havelock Ellis

‘A painter told me that nobody could draw a tree without in some sort becoming a tree; or draw a child by studying the outlines of its form merely...but by watching for a time his motions and plays, the painter enters into his nature and can then draw him at every attitude.’

Ralph Waldo Emerson

‘The artists must be sacrificed to their art. Like the bees, they must put their lives into the sting they give.’

Ralph Waldo Emerson

‘The true artist has the planet for his pedestal; the adventurer, after years of strife, has nothing broader than his shoes.’

Ralph Waldo Emerson

‘An artist is a creature driven by demons. He doesn’t usually know why they chose him and he’s usually too busy to wonder why.’

William Faulkner

‘An artist is completely amoral in that he will rob, beg, borrow, or steal from anybody and everybody to get the work done.’

William Faulkner

‘What artists have accomplished is realizing there’s only a small amount of stuff that’s important and then seeing what it was.’

Mitchell Feigenbaum

‘All art is autobiographical.’

— Federico Fellini

‘The artist in his work ought to be like God in creation, invisible and all-powerful; everywhere felt but nowhere visible.’

Gustav Flaubert

‘The scholar seeks truth, the artist finds.’

André Gide

‘The artist is not a different kind of person, but every person is a different kind of artist.’

Eric Gill

‘No artist is ahead of his time. He is in his time. It is just that others are behind the time.’

Martha Graham

‘The real artist’s work is a surprise to himself.’

Robert Henri

‘The moment you cheat for the sake of beauty, you know you’re an artist.’

David Hockney

‘If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him.’

John Fitzgerald Kennedy

‘Above all, we are coming to understand that the arts incarnate the creativity of a free people. When the creative impulse cannot flourish, when it cannot freely select its methods and objects, when it is deprived of spontaneity, then society severs the root of art.’

John Fitzgerald Kennedy

‘The artist deals with what cannot be said in words.’

Ursula LeGuin

‘An artist is only an ordinary man with a greater potentiality.’

D. H. Lawrence

‘Dead he is not, but departed, for the artist never dies.’

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

‘With the pride of an artist, you must blow against the walls of every power that exists, the small trumpet of your defiance.’

Norman Mailer

‘A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be.’

Abraham Maslow

‘There is nothing more difficult for a truly creative painter than to paint a rose, because before he can do so he has first to forget all the roses that were ever painted.’

Henri Matisse

‘Every production of an artist should be the expression of an adventure of his soul.’

W. Somerset Maugham

‘The artist produces for the liberation of his soul. It is his nature to create as it is the nature of water to run downhill.’

W. Somerset Maugham

‘The great artists of the world are never Puritans, and seldom even ordinarily respectable.’

H. L. Mencken

‘The painting rises from the brush strokes as a poem rises from the words. The meaning comes later.’

Joán Miró

‘It is a mistake for a sculptor or a painter to speak or write very often about his job. It releases tension needed for his work.’

Henry Moore

‘The good composer is slowly discovered; the bad composer is slowly found out.’

Ernest Newman

‘Every child is an artist. The problem is to remain an artist once he grows up.’

Pablo Picasso

‘God is really only another artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephant and the cat. He has no real style. He just keeps on trying other things.’

Pablo Picasso

‘Good artists copy; great artists steal.’

Pablo Picasso

‘The artist is a receptacle for the 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

‘I don't paint nature. I am nature.’

Jackson Pollock

‘Painting is self-discovery. Every good artist paints what he is.’

Jackson Pollock

‘The task of the artist at any time is uncompromisingly simple—to discover what has not yet been done, and to do it.’

Craig Raine

‘Those people who recognize that the imagination is reality’s master we call sages, and those who act upon it we call artists or lunatics.’

Tom Robbins

‘The artist must create a spark before he can make a fire and before art is born, the artist must be ready to be consumed by the fire of his own creation.’

Auguste Rodin

‘Today, each artist must undertake to invent himself, a lifelong act of creation that constitutes the essential content of the artist’s work.’

Harold Rosenberg

‘An artist’s only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms, not anyone else’s.’

J. D. Salinger

‘If artists and poets are unhappy, it is after all because happiness does not interest them.’

George Santayana

‘An artist is a dreamer consenting to dream of the actual world.’

George Santayana

‘To send light into the darkness of men’s hearts—such is the duty of the artist.’

Robert Schumann

‘The artist finds a greater pleasure in painting than in having completed the picture.’

Lucius Seneca

‘A true artist will let his wife starve, his children go barefoot, his mother drudge for his living at seventy, sooner than work at anything but his art.’

George Bernard Shaw

‘A creative artist works on his next composition because he was not satisfied with his previous one.’

Dimitri Shotakovich

‘The worst scientist is he who is not an artist; the worst artist is he who is no scientist.’

Armand Trousseau

‘It seems to me it’s a painter’s duty to try to put an idea into his work.’

Vincent Van Gogh

‘I dream my painting, and then I paint my dream.’

Vincent Van Gogh

‘An artist never really finishes his work, he merely abandons it.’

Paul Valéry

‘Contrary to general belief, an artist is never ahead of his time but most people are far behind theirs.’

Edgard Varčse

‘An artist is someone who produces things that people don’t need to have but that he, for some reason, thinks would be a good idea to give them.’

Andy Warhol

‘An artist must be a reactionary. He has to stand out against the tenor of the age and not go flopping along.’

Evelyn Waugh

Children, like animals, use all their senses to discover the world. Then artists come along and discover it the same way all over again.’

Eudora Welty

‘Good artists exist simply in what they make, and consequently are perfectly uninterested in what they are.’

Oscar Wilde

‘Bad artists always admire each others work.’

Oscar Wilde

‘God and other artists are always a little obscure.’

Oscar Wilde

‘Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter.’

Oscar Wilde

‘No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist.’

Oscar Wilde

The mind of an artist, in order to achieve the prodigious effort of freeing whole and entire the work that is in him, must be incandescent…there must be no obstacle in it, no foreign matter unconsumed.’

Virginia Woolf

‘Every great and original writer, in proportion as he is great and original, must himself create the taste by which he is to be relished.’

William Wordsworth



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