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200 Inspiring Art Quotes From Famous Artists

Last Updated: October 30, 2022 by Team

Humanity has been creating and appreciating art since its very beginnings. Whether an ancient cave painting, the work of the famed Old Masters of the Renaissance, or cutting-edge Modern Art, art can capture a moment in time and stir our emotions.

Not only have great artists shaped culture and the human experience for centuries, but the artists themselves also have exciting insights as to why they do what they do. Although art can sometimes seem purely decorative, there’s always a hidden meaning or emotion lurking under the facade. And, of course, to create such a thought and emotion-evoking work of art, one should have some pretty deep sulcus in their brain or an enviable ability to tap right into the subconscious.

Many people turn to the portfolios of prolific artists, writers, and other creatives when seeking artistic inspiration. In addition to their powerful work bodies, it is also worth listening to the words spoken, written, and shared by these influential figures. Many creatives offer quotes about art to inform their audience and impart wisdom to artistic hopefuls.

When you look at some of the most potent prose spoken by well-known creatives—from Claude Monet and Vincent van Gogh to Bob Ross and Basquiat—it’s clear how profoundly knowledgeable they are. Ranging from explorations about the meaning of art to presentations of their motivational mantras, these quotes about art prove words’ creative power and potential.

So enjoy these art quotes from celebrated artists and enjoy their inspiration to make the world more beautiful today.

200 Art Quotes

Top 10 Art Quotes

“I want to touch people with my art. I want them to say ‘he feels deeply, he feels tenderly.’” – Vincent Van Gogh

“Every artist was first an amateur.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” – Thomas Merton

“A picture is a poem without words.” – Horace

“The principles of true art is not to portray, but to evoke.” – Jerzy Kosinski

“Painting is easy when you don’t know how, but very difficult when you do” – Edgar Degas

“As my artist’s statement explains, my work is utterly incomprehensible and is therefore full of deep significance.” – Calvin & Hobbes

“The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work.” – Emile Zola

“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” – Scott Adams

“The greatness of art is not to find what is common but what is unique.” – Isaac Bashevis


What is Art?

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“Art is the stored honey of the human soul.” – Theodore Dreiser

“Art is the only way to run away without leaving home.” – Twyla Tharp

“Art is something that makes you breathe with a different kind of happiness.” – Anni Albers

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” – Edgar Degas

“Art is not a handicraft, it is the transmission of feeling the artist has experienced.” – Leo Tolstoy

“Art is never finished, only abandoned.” – Leonardo Da Vinci

“Art is longing. You never arrive, but you keep going in the hope that you will.” – Anselm Kiefer

“Art is a line around your thoughts.” – Gustav Klimt

“Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better.” – Andre Gide

“Great art is the outward expression of an inner life of the artist, and this innerlife will result in his personal vision of the world.” – Edward Hopper

“Art must be an expression of love or it is nothing.” – Marc Chagall

“Art has always been the raft onto which we climb to save our sanity. I don’t see a different purpose for it now.” – Dorothea Tanning

“Art evokes the mystery without which the world would not exist.” – René Magritte

“Art does not reproduce what we see. It makes us see.” – Paul Klee

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time..” – Thomas Merton

“If I were called upon to define briefly the word Art, I should call it the reproduction of what the senses preceive in nature, seen through the veil of the soul.” – Paul Cezanne

“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” – Aristotle

“There are no rules. That is how art is born, how breakthroughs happen. Go against the rules or ignore the rules. That is what invention is about.” – Helen Frankenthaler

“There is no must in art because art is free.” – Wassily Kandinsky

“Culture is the arts elevated to a set of beliefs.” – Thomas Wolfe

“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others.” – Jonathan Swift

A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art. Paul Cezanne

Artist Quotes

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“Artists are just children who refuse to put down their crayons.” – Al Hirschfeld

“There are painters who transform the sun into a yellow spot, but there are others who, thanks to their art and intelligence, transform a yellow spot into the sun.” – Pablo Picasso

“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

“Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.” – Pablo Picasso

“My mother said to me, ‘If you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope.’ Instead, I was a painter, and became Picasso.” – Pablo Picasso

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” – Pablo Picasso

“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” – Pablo Picasso

“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” – Pablo Picasso

“I don’t say everything, but I paint everything.” – Pablo Picasso

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” – Pablo Picasso

“Art is a lie that makes us realise the truth.” – Pablo Picasso

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” – Pablo Picasso

“To be an artist is to believe in life.” – Henry Moore

“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

“A Good artist has less time than ideas.” – Martin Kippenberger

“A great artist is always before his time or behind it.” – George Moore

“An artist cannot fail; it is a success to be one.” – Charles Horton Cooley

“A true artist is not one who is inspired, but one who inspires others.” – Salvador Dali

“A work is finished when an artist realizes his intentions.” – Rembrandt

“An artist never really finishes his work; he merely abandons it.” – Paul Valéry

“An artist must have his measuring tools not in the hand, but in the eye.” – Michelangelo

“An artist is not paid for his labor but for his vision.” – James McNeill Whistler

“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.” – Henry Ward Beecher

“Generally speaking, color directly influences the soul. Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another purposively, to cause vibrations in the soul.” – Wassily Kandinsky

“When artists give form to revelation, their art can advance, deepen and potentially transform the consciousness of their community.” – Alex Grey


“To send light into the darkness of men’s hearts – such is the duty of the artist.” – Schumann

“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

“There’s no retirement for an artist, it’s your way of living so there’s no end to it.” – Henry Moore

“The true use of art is, first, to cultivate the artist’s own spiritual nature.” – George Inness

“The position of the artist is humble. He is essentially a channel.” – Piet Mondrian

“The job of the artist is always to deepen the mystery.” – Francis Bacon

“The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize.” – Robert Hughes

“The artist’s world is limitless. It can be found anywhere, far from where he lives or a few feet away. It is always on his doorstep.” – Paul Strand

“The artist sees what others only catch a glimpse of.” – Leonardo da Vinci

“The artist must train not only his eye but also his soul.” – Wassily Kandinsky

“The artist is not a different kind of person, but every person is a different kind of artist.” – Eric Gill

“The Achilles heel of an artist lies in the hope that his art is good.” – Kapil Gupta

“Painting is self-discovery. Every good artist paints what he is.” – Jackson Pollock

“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

“No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist.” – Oscar Wilde

“In the mind of every artist there is a masterpiece.” – Kai Greene

“In our time there are many artists who do something because it is new; they see their value and their justification in this newness. They are deceiving themselves; novelty is seldom the essential. This has to do with one thing only; making a subject better from its intrinsic nature.” – Henri de Toulouse Lautrec

“If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.” – Émile Zola

“If the artist has outer and inner eyes for nature, nature rewards him by giving him inspiration.” – Wassily Kandinsky

“He who works with his hands is a labourer. 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

Art takes time. Monet grew his gardens before he painted them. Atticus Poetry

Drawing Quotes

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“It is a widely accepted notion among painters that it does not matter what one paints as long as it is well painted. This is the essence of academicism. There is no such thing as good painting about nothing.” – Mark Rothko

“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 makes you see things clearer, and clearer and clearer still, until your eyes ache.” – David Hockney

“Drawing is vision on paper.” – Andrew Loomis

“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

“Drawing is not what one sees, but what one can make others see.” – Edgar Degas

“Drawing is like making an expressive gesture, with the advantage of permanence.” – Henri Matisse

“Drawing is giving a performance; an artist is an actor who is not limited by the body, only by his ability and, perhaps, experience.” – Marc Davis

“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

“Drawing at its best is not what your eyes see but what our mind understands.” – Millard Sheets

“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

“For me drawing is an attempt to understand what I feel about the world I live in.” – Brian Froud

“While drawing I discover what I really want to say.” – Dario Fo

“Sketching is almost everything. It is the painter’s identity, his style, his conviction, and then colour is just a gift to the drawing.” – Fernando Botero

“My idea of heaven is to wake up, have a good breakfast, and spend the rest of the day drawing.” – Peter Falk

“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

“In spite of everything I shall rise again: I will take up my pencil, which I have forsaken in my great discouragement, and I will go on with my drawing.” – Vincent Van Gogh

“In drawing, one must look for or suspect that there is more than is casually seen.” – George Bridgman

“I just wanted to paint and sketch and tell stories by drawing.” – Robert Redford

“How you draw is a reflection of how you feel about the world. You’re not capturing it, you’re interpreting it.” – Juliette Aristides

“Learning to draw is really a matter of learning to see – to see correctly – and that means a good deal more than merely looking with the eye.” – Kimon Nicolaides

“Painting from nature is not copying the object, it’s realising one’s sensations.” – Paul Cezanne

“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.” – Leonardo da Vinci

“Painting is a means of self-enlightenment.” – John Olsen

“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

“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

Find the art in everything around you.

Short Art Quotes

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“A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art.” – Paul Cezanne

“An empty canvas is full.” – Robert Rauschenberg

“Art, Undeniably, is conductive to happiness.”

“Don’t be an art critic, but paint, there lies salvation.” – Paul Cezanne

“Every good painter paints what he is.” – Jackson Pollock

“Great art picks up where nature ends.” – Marc Chagall

“I am happy to be alive as long as I can paint.” – Frida Kahlo

“I shut my eyes in order to see.” – Paul Gauguin

“Poor is the pupil who does not surpass his master.” – Leonardo da Vinci

“The only time I feel alive is when I’m painting.” – Vincent Van Gogh

“The painter has the Universe in his mind and hands.” – Leonardo da Vinci

“Those who do not want to imitate anything produce nothing.” – Salvador Dali

“To create one’s own world takes courage.” – Georgia O’Keeffe

“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” – Ansel Adams

“You have a million excuses. Write anyway.” – Carrie Kei Heim

“The richness I achieve comes from nature, the source of my inspiration.” – Claude Monet

Anybody with artistic ambitions is always trying to reconnect with the way they saw things as a child. Tim Burton

Famous Art Quotes

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“‘Painting’ and ‘religious experience’ are the same thing. It is a question of the perpetual motion of a right idea.” – Ben Nicholson

“A beautiful body perishes, but a work of art dies not.” – Leonardo da Vinci

“A man paints with his brains and not with his hands.” – Michelangelo

“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

“As practice makes perfect, I cannot but make progress; each drawing one makes, each study one paints, is a step forward.” – Vincent van Gogh

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” – Vincent Van Gogh

“I admit clearly and frankly that early Mexican art formed my views of carving as much as anything I could do.” – Henry Moore

“I dream of painting and then I paint my dream.” – Vincent Van Gogh

“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free” – Michelangelo

“I would rather die of passion than of boredom.” – Vincent van Gogh

“I wish they would only take me as I am.” – Vincent Van Gogh

“If people only knew how hard I work to gain my mastery. It wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.” – Michelangelo

“It is not the language of painters but the language of nature which one should listen to, the feeling for the things themselves, for reality, is more important than the feeling for pictures.” – Vincent Van Gogh

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” – Henry David Thoreau

“Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art.” – Leonardo da Vinci

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

Best Art Quotes

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“Before I start carving the idea must be almost complete. I say ‘almost’ because the really important thing seems to be the sculptor’s ability to let his intuition guide him over the gap between conception and realization without compromising the integrity of the original idea.” – Barbara Hepworth

“Color provokes a psychic vibration. Color hides a power still unknown but real, which acts on every part of the human body.”~ Wassily Kandinsky

“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

“Everything has its beauty, but not everyone sees it.” – Andy Warhol

“For me, insanity is super sanity. The normal is psychotic. Normal means lack of imagination, lack of creativity.” – Jean Dubuffet

“Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.” – Salvador Dalí

“I never paint dreams or nightmares. I paint my own reality.” – Frida Kahlo

“If a man devotes himself to art, much evil is avoided that happens otherwise if one is idle.” – Albrecht Durer

“If you as a designer don’t believe in your design and don’t see it beyond the context of the film but as a real creature in a real world then how can you expect the audience to believe it?” – Peter Jackson

“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.” – Edouard Manet

“More important than a work of art itself is what it will sow. Art can die, a painting can disappear. What counts is the seed.” – Joan Miro

“Nature is not only all that is visible to the eye.. it also includes the inner pictures of the soul.” – Edvard Munch

“Never worry about being obsessive. I like obsessive people. Obsessive people make great art.” – Susan Sontag

“Nothing makes me so happy as to observe nature and to paint what I see.” – ~ Henri Rousseau

“Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them.” – Anais Nin

“Surrealism is destructive, but it destroys only what it considers to be shackles limiting our vision.” – Salvador Dali

“The longer you look at an object, the more abstract it becomes, and, ironically, the more real.” – Lucian Freud

“The object of art is not to reproduce reality, but to create a reality of the same intensity.” – Alberto Giacometti

“The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.” – Jean-Jacques Rousseau

“I started painting as a hobby when I was little. I didn’t know I had any talent. I believe talent is just a pursued interest. Anybody can do what I do.” – Bob Ross


Street Art Quotes

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“People say graffiti is ugly, irresponsible and childish… but that’s only if it’s done properly.” – Banksy

“Art is an evolutionary act. The shape of art and its role in society is constantly changing. At no point is art static. There are no rules.” – Raymond Salvatore Harmon

“Design is a fundamental human activity, relevant and useful to everyone. Anything humans create—be it product, communication or system—is a result of the process of making inspiration real. I believe in doing what works as circumstances change: quirky or unusual solutions are often good ones. Nature bends and so should we as appropriate. Nature is always right outside our door as a reference and touch point. We should use it far more than we do.” – Maggie Macnab

“Imagine you saw a colour in your dream, which you have never seen before. It doesn’t consist of any colours or shades that you know. Trying to describe that colour would be as difficult as trying to belive that there is enough love & compassion in the world so every human can feel happiness.” – Egor Kraft

“I laugh at the way some people think graffiti is all selfish tagging and vandalism. Thoughtful street art is like good fiction – it speaks out on behalf of everyone, for us all to see.” – Carla H. Krueger

“The flood will lift the ghosts from the Hollywood lawn cemetery and they will disappear like ether in the now dead air. All the names will be erased from the billboards and the theatres and the piers and the magazines and the monuments. You live by myths of immortality, and your myths are not safe.” – Robert Montgomery

“Few people go to art exhibitions nowadays, the art comes to them!” – Chris Geiger


Funny Art Quotes

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“A painting is never finished – it simply stops in interesting places.” – Paul Gardner

“Colour is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.” – Claude Monet

“Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love.” – Claude Monet

“I don’t listen to what art critics say. I don’t know anybody who needs a critic to find out what art is.” – Jean-Michel Basquiat

“I paint flowers so they will not die.” – Frida Kahlo

“I was not ready for abstraction. I clung to earth and her dear shapes, her density, her herbage, her juice. I wanted her volume, and I wanted to hear her throb.” – Emily Carr

“If I could say it in words there would be no reason to paint.” – Edward Hopper

“If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing.” – Marc Chagall

“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

“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

“In art, the hand can never execute anything higher than the heart can imagine.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“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

“It’s so fine and yet so terrible to stand in front of a blank canvas.” – Paul Cezanne

“One must always draw, draw with the eyes, when one cannot draw with a pencil.” – Balthus

“Some paint comes across directly onto the nervous system and other paint tells you the story in a long diatribe through the brain.” – Francis Bacon

“The creative habit is like a drug. The particular obsession changes, but the excitement, the thrill of your creation lasts.” – Henry Moore

“The only thing that matters is that you are original and find your own voice. One could perhaps divide painters into two categories: those who have something to tell and those who do not.” – Odd Nerdrum

“A Good Relationship is like a neat and defined nail art. It requires a lot of concentration, time devotion and patience, to take it to perfection!” – Mehek Bassi

“Painting is the grandchild of nature. It is related to God.” – Rembrandt

“I want to make paintings that look as if they were made by a child.” – Jean-Michel Basquiat

Art is not what you see, but what you make others see. Edgar Degas

Art Quotes About Life

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“I paint for myself. I don’t know how to do anything else, anyway. Also I have to earn my living, and occupy myself.” – Francis Bacon

“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

“To my mind a picture should be something pleasant, cheerful and pretty. There are too many unpleasant things in life as it is without creating still more of them.” – Pierre-Auguste Renoir

“Paintings have a life of their own that derives from the painter’s soul.” – Vincent van Gogh

“Look at life with the eyes of a child.” – Henri Matisse

“Life obliges me to do something, so I paint.” – Rene Magritte

“Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.” – John W. Gardner

“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

“Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one.” – Stella Adler

“I want the people looking at my work to feel a sense of all the possibilities of painting, and, through that, in life as a whole. When that happens, I feel I’ve accomplished something useful.” – Wolf Kahn

“I have no fear of making changes, destroying the image, etc., because the painting has a life of its own.” – Jackson Pollock

“Happiness is being on the beam with life – to feel the pull of life.” – Agnes Martin

“For me, painting is a way to forget life. It is a cry in the night, a strangled laugh.” – Georges Rouault

“The works must be conceived with fire in the soul but executed with clinical coolness.” – Joan Miro

“Every child has the spirit of creation. The rubbish of life often exterminates the spirit through plague and a souls own wretchedness.” – Peter Paul Rubens

“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 colours flowers, so does art colour life.” – John Lubbock

“All these months I’ve been trying to find find a pattern. Trying not so much to draw hands as gestures. Not so much faces as the expressions of people.” – Vincent van Gogh in “Lust for Life”

“Anything I can not transform into something marvellous, 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.” – Anais Nin

A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art. Paul Cezanne

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