Art is a creative expression encompassing a wide range of human activities, products, and experiences, producing an emotional or aesthetic response. Here are what some have said about art, artists, and the artistic process.

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

— Oscar Wilde

The moment you think you understand a great work of art, it’s dead for you.

— Oscar Wilde

There are painters who transform the sun to a yellow spot, but there are others who with the help of their art and their intelligence, transform a yellow spot into sun.

— Pablo Picasso

All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.

— Pablo Picasso

Beauty? To me it is a word without sense because I do not know where its meaning comes from nor where it leads to.

— Pablo Picasso

My mother said to me, ‘If you become a soldier, you’ll be a general; if you become a monk, you’ll end up as the Pope.’ Instead, I became a painter and wound up as Picasso.

— Pablo Picasso

Why do two colors, put one next to the other, sing? Can one really explain this? no. Just as one can never learn how to paint.

— Pablo Picasso

Art is either plagiarism or revolution.

— Paul Gauguin

Know what you want and try to go beyond your own expectations. Improve your dancing, practice a lot, and set a very high goal, one that will be difficult to achieve. Because that is an artist’s million: to go beyond one’s limits. An artist who desires very little and achieves it has failed in life.

— Paulo Coehlo

Philosophy is the art of living.

— Plutarch

Christmas renews our youth by stirring our wonder. The capacity for wonder has been called our most pregnant human faculty, for in it are born our art, our science, our religion.

— Ralph W. Sockman

The capacity for wonder has been called our most pregnant human faculty, for in it are born our art, our science, our religion.

— Ralph W. Sockman

Philosophically considered, the universe is composed of Nature and the Soul. Strictly speaking, therefore, all that is separate from us, all which Philosophy distinguishes as the NOT ME, that is, both nature and art, all other men and my own body, must be ranked under this name, NATURE.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

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

Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Self-consciousness is the enemy of all art, be it acting, writing, painting, or living itself, which is the greatest art of all.

— Ray Bradbury

Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. You cannot intellectualize creativity. You can think about something before or after — but not during.

— Ray Bradbury

There is no such thing as inaccuracy in a photograph. All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.

— Richard Avedon

Art is moral passion married to entertainment. Moral passion without entertainment is propaganda, and entertainment without moral passion is television.

— Rita Mae Brown

I am an artist and a political being as well.

— Robin Morgan

Creativity arises out of the tension between spontaneity and limitations, the latter (like the river banks) forcing the spontaneity into the various forms which are essential to the work of art or poem.

— Rollo May

In order for the artist to have a world to express he must first be situated in this world, oppressed or oppressing, resigned or rebellious, a man among men.

— Simone de Beauvoir

Art is an attempt to integrate evil.

— Simone de Beauvoir

Nothing is more the child of art than a garden.

— Sir Walter Scott

A successful work of art is not one which resolves contradictions in a spurious harmony, but one which expresses the idea of harmony negatively by embodying the contradictions, pure and uncompromised, in its innermost structure.

— Theodor Adorno

When I see someone smile, I know immediately that he or she is dwelling in awareness. This half-smile, how many artists have labored to bring it to the lips of countless statues and paintings? I am sure the same smile must have been on the faces of the sculptors and painters as they worked. Can you imagine an angry painter giving birth to such a smile? Mona Lisa’s smile is light, just a hint of a smile. Yet even a smile like that is enough to relax all the muscles in our face, to banish all worries and fatigue. A tiny bud of a smile on our lips nourishes awareness and calms us miraculously. It returns us to the peace we thought we had lost.

— Thich Nhat Hanh

For I must tell you that we artists cannot tread the path of Beauty without Eros keeping company with us and appointing himself as our guide.

— Thomas Mann

The many great gardens of the world, of literature and poetry, of painting and music, of religion and architecture, all make the point as clear as possible: The soul cannot thrive in the absence of a garden. If you don’t want paradise, you are not human; and if you are not human, you don’t have a soul.

— Thomas Moore

Skill without imagination is craftsmanship and gives us many useful objects such as wickerwork picnic baskets. Imagination without skill gives us modern art.

— Tom Stoppard, Artist Descending a Staircase

Writing has laws of perspective, of light and shade just as painting does, or music. If you are born knowing them, fine. If not, learn them. Then rearrange the rules to suit yourself.

— Truman Capote

In his later years Pablo Picasso was not allowed to roam an art gallery unattended, for he had previously been discovered in the act of trying to improve on one of his old masterpieces.

— Unknown

We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art, and very often in our art, the art of words.

— Ursula K. Le Guin

My job is to keep the meaning completely embodied in the work itself, and therefore alive and capable of change. I think that’s how an artist can best speak as a member of a moral community: clearly, yet leaving around her words that area of silence, that empty space, in which other and further truths and perceptions can form in other minds.

— Ursula LeGuin

When I have a terrible need of — shall I say the word — religion. Then I go out and paint the stars.

— Vincent van Gogh

The more I think it over, the more I feel that there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people.

— Vincent van Gogh

A good picture is equivalent to a good deed.

— Vincent van Gogh

I can very well do without God both in my life and in my painting, but I cannot, suffering as I am, do without something which is greater than I am, which is my life, the power to create.

— Vincent van Gogh

Every garden-maker should be an artist along his own lines. That is the only possible way to create a garden, irespective of size or wealth.

— Vita Sackville-West

Beauty is something wonderful and strange that the artist fashions out of the chaos of the world in the torment of his soul. And when he has made it, it is not given to all to know it. To recognize it you must repeat the adventure of the artist. It is a melody that he sings to you, and to hear it again in your own heart you want knowledge and sensitiveness and imagination.

— W. Somerset Maugham, The Moon and Sixpence

[To simplify] is very nearly the whole of the higher artistic process; finding what conventions of form and what detail one can do without — and yet preserve the spirit of the whole.

— Willa Cather

All the intelligence and talent in the world can’t make a singer. The voice is a wild thing. It can’t be bred in captivity.

— Willa Cather

Writing ought either to be the manufacture of stories for which there is a market demand — a business as safe and commendable as making soap or breakfast foods — or it should be an art, which is always a search for something for which there is no market demand, something new and untried, where the values are intrinsic and have nothing to do with standardized values.

— Willa Cather

Nothing exists until or unless it is observed. An artist is making something exist by observing it. And his hope for other people is that they will also make it exist by observing it. I call it ‘creative observation.’ Creative viewing.

— William S. Burroughs

Laying out grounds may be considered a liberal art, in some sort like poetry and painting.

— William Wordsworth
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