esther pai art

Top 50 Art Quotes

– By Esther Pai –

My love for art began out of a deep awe for the worlds created by my favorite painters and writers. Here are 50 quotes on the meaning of art that I find beautiful:

Finding Beauty:

  • “Every picture shows a spot with which the artist has fallen in love.” – Alfred Sisley
  • “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” – Anton Chekhov
  • “One way to open your eyes to unnoticed beauty is to ask yourself, ‘What if I had never seen this before? What if I knew I would never see it again?'” – Rachel Carson
  • “If you stare at an object, as you do when you paint, there is no point at which you stop learning things from it.” – Wayne Thiebaud

The Artist:

  • “I think the job of the artist is to remind people of what they have chosen to forget.” – Arthur Miller
  • “The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery.” – Francis Bacon
  • “There’s no retirement for an artist, it’s your way of living so there’s no end to it.” – Henry Moore
  • “I’m trying to play the truth of what I am. The reason it’s difficult is because I’m changing all the time.” – Charles Mingus
  • “The most seductive thing about art is the personality of the artist himself.” – Paul Cezanne
  • “I’m a believer in the notion that artists who do good work believe in the ideas of extremes.” – Wayne Thiebaud
  • “The public wants to understand and learn in a single day, a single minute, what the artist has spent years learning.” – Paul Gauguin
  • “Painting is self-discovery. Every good artist paints what he is.” – Jackson Pollock

Dreams and Reality:

  • “I never paint dreams or nightmares. I paint my own reality.” – Frida Kahlo
  • “The object of art is not to reproduce reality, but to create a reality of the same intensity.” – Alberto Giacometti
  • “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” Thomas Merton
  • “I dream of painting and then I paint my dream.” – Vincent Van Gogh
  • “Art is an escape from reality.” – Henri Matisse
  • “I like to pretend that my art has nothing to do with me.” – Roy Lichtenstein
  • “I am living permanently in my dream, from which I make brief forays into reality.”  – Ingmar Bergman


  • “There might be a great fire in our soul, yet no one ever comes to warm himself at it.” – Vincent Van Gogh
  • “The world always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before.” – Neil Gailman
  • “You often feel tired not because you’ve done too much, but because you’ve done so little of what sparks a light in you.” – Alexander Den Heijer
  • “An artist is not paid for his labor but for his vision.” – James McNeill Whistler
  • “Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.” – Salvador Dalí

Thinking and Feeling:

  • “We think too much and feel too little.” – Charlie Chaplin
  • “Art is the concrete representation of our most subtle feelings.” – Agnes Martin
  • “I would rather die of passion than of boredom.” – Vincent van Gogh
  • “Color was not given to us in order that we should imitate Nature. It was given to us so that we can express our emotions.” – Henri Matisse
  • “I do not literally paint that table, but the emotion it produces upon me.” – Henri Matisse
  • “You can look at a picture for a week and never think of it again. You can also look at the picture for a second and think of it all your life.”  – Joan Miro

Daily Life:

  • “I have a deeply hidden and inarticulate desire for something beyond the daily life” – Virginia Woolf
  • “Painting completed my life. I lost three children and a series of other things that would have fulfilled my horrible life. My painting took the place of all of this.” – Friday Kahlo
  • “Color is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.” – Claude Monet
  • “To be an artist, you don’t have to compose music or paint or be in the movies or write books. It’s just a way of living. It has to do with paying attention, remembering, filtering what you see and answering back, participating in life.” – Viggo Mortensen

Create Everyday:

  • “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” – Pablo Picasso
  • “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” – Maya Angelou
  • “Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” – Andy Warhol
  • “Nobody will stop you from creating. Do it tonight. Do it tomorrow. That is the way to make your soul grow.” – Kurt Vonnegut
  • “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” – Ernest Hemingway

Simplicity and Subtlety:

  • “My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way.” – Ernest Hemingway
  • “A very subtle difference can make the picture or not.” – Annie Leibowitz
  • “If a writer stops observing, he is finished. Experience is communicated by small details intimately observed.” – Ernest Hemingway
  • “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

Finding Inspiration:

  • “But couldn’t everyone’s life become a work of art? Why should the lamp or the house be an art object, but not our life?” – Michel Foucault
  • “I don’t think you need to be in love to write. But you had to have been once.” – Lang  Leav
  • “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” – Henry David Thoreau
  • “But how could you live and have no story to tell?” – Fyodor Dostovesky

The Limitations of Language:

  • “If I could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint.” – Edward Hopper
  • “The most important things are the hardest to say because words diminish them.”  – Stephen King
  • “Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.” – Pablo Picasso