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Quotes from Artists

There are several pages of quotes for copywork in Italics, Beautiful Handwriting for Children. This is a collection of quotes from famous artists and illustrators that I’ve collected since publishing the Italics book.

Ansel Adams: We were in the shadow of the mountains, the light was cool and quiet and no wind was stirring. The aspen trunks were slightly greenish and the leaves were a vibrant yellow.

 John Audubon: A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.
Almost every day, instead of going to school, I made for the fields, where I spent my day.
As I grew up I was fervently desirous of becoming acquainted with Nature.

 Eric Carle: The hardest part is developing the idea, and that can take years.

 Mary Cassatt: I am independent! I can live alone and I love to work.
I think that if you shake the tree, you ought to be around when the fruit falls to pick it up.
Americans have a way of thinking work is nothing. Come out and play they say.

 Paul Cezanne: A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art.
Art is a harmony parallel with nature.
Genius is the ability to renew one’s emotions in daily experience.
I could paint for a hundred years, a thousand years without stopping and I would still feel as though I knew nothing.
It’s so fine and yet so terrible to stand in front of a blank canvas.
The painter must enclose himself within his work; he must respond not with words, but with paintings.

Joseph Cornell: Shadow boxes become poetic theaters or settings wherein are metamorphosed the element of a childhood pastime.

Leonardo da Vinci: A well-spent day brings happy sleep.
Art is never finished, only abandoned.
I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.
…People of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.

Jim Davis: Way down deep, we're all motivated by the same urges. Cats have the courage to live by them.

Tamara de Lempicka: I live life in the margins of society, and the rules of normal society don’t apply to those who live on the fringe.

Edgar Degas: Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.
Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.

Andre Derain: I do not innovate. I transmit.” “The substance of painting is light.

M. C. Escher: Are you really sure that a floor can’t also be a ceiling?
My work is a game, a very serious game.
Only those who attempt the absurd will achieve the impossible. I think it’s in my basement…let me go upstairs and check.
I don’t grow up. In me is the small child of my early days.

Antoni Gaudi: Color in certain places has the great value of making the outlines and structural planes seem more energetic.

Paul Gauguin: I shut my eyes in order to see.
It is the eye of ignorance that assigns a fixed and unchangeable color to every object; beware of this stumbling block.

Grandma Moses: A primitive artist is an amateur whose work sells.
Life is what we make it, always has been, always will be.
I look back on my life like a good day’s work, it was done and I am satisfied with it.
Painting’s not important. The important thing is keeping busy.

Childe Hassam: Art, to me, is the interpretation of the impression which nature makes upon the eye and brain.

Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins: ...vast forms and gigantic beasts...called up from the abyss of time and from the depths of the earth.

Winslow Homer: The sun will not rise or set without my notice, and thanks. 
The most interesting part of my life is of no concern to the public.
The life that I have chosen gives me my full hours of enjoyment.

Edward Hopper: If you could say it in words there would be no reason to paint.
What I wanted to do was to paint sunlight on the side of a house. 
There is a sort of elation about sunlight on the upper part of a house.
No amount of skillful invention can replace the essential element of imagination.

Katsushika Hokusai:
If Heaven had only granted me five more years, I could have become a real painter.

Frida Kahlo: Feet, what do I need you for when I have wings to fly?
I paint self portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best.
I never paint dreams or nightmares. I paint my own reality.

Wassily Kandinsky: The artist must train not only his eye but also his soul.
There is no must in art because art is free.
Everything starts from a dot.

Ezra Jack Keats: Then began an experience that turned my life around—working on a book with a black kid as hero. None of the manuscripts I’d been illustrating featured any black kids—except for token blacks in the background. My book would have him there simply because he should have been there all along. Years before I had cut from a magazine a strip of photos of a little black boy. I often put them on my studio walls before I’d begun to illustrate children’s books. I just loved looking at him. This was the child who would be the hero of my book.

Paul Klee: A line is a dot that went for a walk.
A drawing is simply a line going for a walk.
Art does not reproduce what we see; rather, it makes us see. 
He has found his style, when he cannot do otherwise.
Nature is garrulous to the point of confusion, let the artist be truly taciturn.

Gustav Klimt: Sometimes I miss out the morning’s painting session and instead study my Japanese books in the open.

Dorothea Lange: Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.
One should really use the camera as though tomorrow you’d be stricken blind. 
Pick a theme and work it to exhaustion…the subject must be something you truly love or truly hate.

Jacob Lawrence: When the subject is strong, simplicity is the only way to treat it.
I would describe my work as expressionist. The expressionist point of view is stressing your own feelings about something.

Leo Lionni: I believe that a good children's book should appeal to all people who have not completely lost their original joy and wonder in life. The fact is that I don't make books for children at all. I make them for that part of us, of myself and of my friends, which has never changed, which is still a child.

August Macke: I am interested in the creation of space through colour contrasts rather than through simple shading of light and dark.

Rene Magritte: Life obliges me to do something, so I paint.
Everything we see hides another thing; we always want to see what is hidden by what we see. 

Edouard Manet: There are no lines in nature, only areas of colour, one against another.

Franz Marc: What appears spectral today will be natural tomorrow.
Like everything genuine, its inner life guarantees its truth. All works of art created by truthful minds without regard for the world’s conventional exterior remain genuine for all times.

Henri Matisse: Creativity takes courage.
Cutting into color reminds me of the sculptor’s direct carving.
Derive happiness in oneself from a good day’s work, from illuminating the fog that surrounds us.
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.

Joan Miro: I try to apply colors like words that shape poems, like notes that shape music.
The works must be conceived with fire in the soul but executed with clinical coolness.

Piet Mondrian: “Intellect confuses intuition.”

Claude Monet: Color is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.
People discuss my art and pretend to understand as if it were necessary to understand, when it’s simply necessary to love.
I waited for the idea to consolidate, for the grouping and composition of themes to settle themselves in my brain. When I felt I held enough cards I determined to pass to action, and did so.

Berthe Morisot: Real painters understand with a brush in their hand.
It is important to express oneself…provided the feelings are real and are taken from your own experience.

Archibald Motley: …The Negro poet portrays our group in poems, the Negro musician portrays our group in jazz, the Negro actor portrays our group. All of these aforementioned portrayals are serious, original interpretations of the Negro. There is nothing borrowed, nothing copied, just an unraveling of the Negro soul. So why should the Negro painter, the Negro sculptor mimic that which the white man is doing, when he has such an enormous colossal (Motley cont.) field practically all his own; portraying his own people, historically, dramatically, hilariously, but honestly. And who knows the Negro Race, Negro Soul, the Negro Heart, better than himself?

Edvard Munch: Some colors reconcile themselves to one another, others just clash.
For as long as I can remember I have suffered from a deep feeling of anxiety which I have tried to express in my art.
No longer shall I paint interiors with men reading and women knitting. I will paint living people who breathe and feel and suffer and love.
When I paint a person, his enemies always find the portrait a good likeness.

Louise Nevelson: True strength is delicate.
A woman may not hit a ball stronger than a man, but it is different. I prize that difference.
I never for one minute questioned what I had to do. I did not think for one minute that I didn’t have what I had. If just didn’t dawn on me. And so if you know what you have, then you know that there’s nobody on earth that can affect you.

Georgia O’Keeffe: The days you work are the best days.
I decided that if I could paint that flower in a huge scale, you could not ignore its beauty.
I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way—things I had no words for.
I hate flowers—I paint them because they’re cheaper than models and they don’t move.
I often painted fragments of things because it seemed to make my statement as well as or better than the whole could.
I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life—and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.
It was all so far away—there was quiet and an untouched feel to the country and I could work as I pleased.
Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. We haven’t time, and to see takes time—like to have a friend takes time.

Maxfield Parrish:
The hard part is how to plan a picture so as to give to others what has happened to you. To render in paint an experience, to suggest the sense of light and color, of air and space.

Bill Peet: I believe that a good children's book should appeal to all people who have not completely lost their original joy and wonder in life. The fact is that I don't make books for children at all. I make them for that part of us, of myself and of my friends, which has never changed, which is still a child.
I write about animals because I love to draw them. But, I also put people in my books, lots of people"
I always begin my stories as experiments – on large yellow tablets – a mixture of writing and sketching.
I am an author-illustrator of children’s books – and yet – I must confess I don’t do the books for the kids. When I’m working on a book I’m somewhere else – at the circus – or a rustic old farm – or deep in a forest – with no thought of who might read the book or what age group it would appeal to. I write them so I can illustrate them.
I do recall how I got the ideas for some of my books. Many of them are a result of doodling.

Pablo Picasso: Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.
Painting is just another way of keeping a diary.
I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else.
Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.

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

Jackson Pollock: Painting is self-discovery. Every good painter paints what he is.
It doesn't make much difference how the paint is put on as long as something has been said. Technique is just a means of arriving at a statement.
The painting has a life of its own. I try to let it come through.

Edward Henry Potthast: As are the families of the race or nation, so is its society. If the families are good, the society is likewise good.

Maurice Prendergast: The love you liberate in your work is the only love you keep.

Arthur Rackham: For children in their most impressionable years, there is, in fantasy, the highest of stimulating and educational powers.

Christopher Raschka: My goal is to create a book where the entire book—text, pictures, shape of book—work together to create the theme. The placement of images and text on the page is crucial for me.

Robert Rauschenberg: You can't make either life or art, you have to work in the hole in between, which is undefined. That's what makes the adventure of painting.
I don't think of myself as making art. I do what I do because I want to, because painting is the best way I've found to get along with myself.

Odilon Redon: My drawings inspire, and are not to be defined. They place us, as does music, in the ambiguous realm of the undetermined.
While I recognize the necessity for a basis of observed reality... true art lies in a reality that is felt.

Rijn van Rembrandt: Choose only one master -- Nature.
The deepest and most lifelike emotion has been expressed, and that's the reason they have taken so long to execute.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir: Shall I tell you what I think are the two qualities of a work of art? First, it must be the indescribable, and second, it must be inimitable.
The pain passes, but the beauty remains.”

Faith Ringgold: When they're looking at my work, they're looking at a painting and they're able to accept it better because it is also a quilt.

Diego Rivera: 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.

Norman Rockwell: I'll never have enough time to paint all the pictures I'd like to.
The secret to so many artists living so long is that every painting is a new adventure. So, you see, they're always looking ahead to something new and exciting. The secret is not to look back.
Some folks think I painted Lincoln from life, but I haven't been around that long. Not quite.

 Auguste Rodin: I choose a block of marble and chop off whatever I don't need.
I invent nothing, I rediscover.
Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.
To the artist there is never anything ugly in nature.

Charles M. Russell: I ain't no historian but I happen to savvy this incident.
The West is dead... you may lose a sweetheart but you won't forget her.

John Singer Sargent: Every time I paint a portrait I lose a friend.
You can't do sketches enough. Sketch everything and keep your curiosity fresh.

Brian Selznick: I've always loved children's books -- it's not that I didn't like them, I just didn't think I wanted to do that. But then I suddenly realized I did...

Maurice Sendak: You cannot write for children They're much too complicated. You can only write books that are of interest to them.” “I have been doodling with ink and watercolor on paper all my life. It's my way of stirring up my imagination to see what I find hidden in my head. I call the results dream pictures, fantasy sketches, and even brain-sharpening exercises.

Georges Seurat: Painting is the art of hollowing a surface.
Originality depends only on the character of the drawing and the vision peculiar to each artist.
Some say they see poetry in my paintings; I see only science.

Theodore Clement Steele: It is light that gives mystery to shadow, vibration to atmosphere, and makes all the color notes sing together in harmony.

John Steptoe: You will reach the far-off land if you keep hope alive within you.

James Tissot: It is imagination that inflames the passions by painting in a fascinating or terrible fashion an object which impresses us.

Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec: I have tried to do what is true and not ideal.
I paint things as they are. I don't comment.

J. M. W. Turner: There's a sketch at every turn.
If I could find anything blacker than black, I'd use it.

Chris van Allsburg: At first, I see pictures of a story in my mind. Then creating the story comes from asking questions of myself. I guess you might call it the 'what if - what then' approach to writing and illustration.
I have lots of ideas. The problem for me has always been which one to do.
The idea of the extraordinary happening in the context of the ordinary is what's fascinating to me.

Vincent van Gogh: What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?
For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream. 
I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.
The way to know life is to love many things.
I wish they would only take me as I am.
There may be a great fire in our soul, yet no one ever comes to warm himself at it, and the passers-by see only a wisp of smoke.
If you hear a voice within you saying, ‘You are not a painter,’ then by all means paint… and that voice will be silenced.
Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together. “I dream of painting and then I paint my dream.

Andy Warhol: An artist is somebody who produces things that people don't need to have.
They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.
I think having land and not ruining it is the most beautiful art that anybody could ever want to own.

Benjamin West: A kiss from my mother made me a painter.

James Abbott McNeill Whistler: It takes a long time for a man to look like his portrait.
An artist is not paid for his labor but for his vision.
You shouldn't say it is not good. You should say, you do not like it; and then, you know, you're perfectly safe.

Grant Wood: All the good ideas I ever had came to me while I was milking a cow.”
"I had to go to France to appreciate Iowa.

Frank Lloyd Wright: The space within becomes the reality of the building.
Simplicity and repose are the qualities that measure the true value of any work of art.
I know the price of success: dedication, hard work, and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen” 
Every great architect is - necessarily - a great poet. He must be a great original interpreter of his time, his day, his age.
No house should ever be on a hill or on anything. It should be of the hill. Belonging to it. Hill and house should live together each the happier for the other.”