Prose for Painters: Axioms and quotes to help us grow, stay motivated and improve as painters…

Some will say the painting community needs to rediscover much of what has been lost since

Below is a compilation of quotes and ideas from many inspirational figures. I took to the time to bucket them by the following categories:


On Why We Paint – On the Power of Intention – On Getting Started – On the Importance of Practice – On the Primacy of Seeing – On the Act of Finishing – On the Importance of Art


Additionally, there is a downloadable, printable pdf copy of this content available on my Patreon site: https://www.patreon.com/thomasmichaelnieman


Discussion of the principals, the mindsets and techniques will be examined occasionally in video on my YouTube Channel as well: Click Here to View


On Why We Paint…

  • Painting is just another way of keeping a diary. - Pablo Picasso

  • When you accomplish something that you once believed was impossible, it makes you a new person. It changes the way you see yourself and the world. - John C. Maxwell

  • While drawing I discover what I really want to say. - Dario Fo

  • Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. - Pablo Picasso

  • I paint flowers so they will not die. - Frida Kahlo

  • Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one. - Stella Adler

  • What keeps my heart awake is colorful silence. - Claude Monet

On the Power of Intention…

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

  • A true artist is not one who is inspired, but one who inspires others. - Salvador Dali

  • 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

  • If I create from the heart, nearly everything works; if from the head, almost nothing. - Marc Chagall

  • The Achilles heel of an artist lies in the hope that his art is good. - Kapil Gupta

  • The purpose of the painter is simply to reproduce in other minds the impression which a scene has made upon him. A work of art does not appeal to the intellect. It does not appeal to the moral sense. Its aim is not to instruct, not to edify, but to awaken an emotion. -George Inness

  • 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

On Getting started…

  • A painter should begin every canvas with a wash of black, because all things in nature are dark except where exposed by the light. - Leonardo da Vinci

  • Every artist was first an amateur. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • Realize the value of putting down your first impression quickly. --Charles Hawthorn

  • It is only when we are no longer fearful that we begin to create. - J. M. W. Turner

  • 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

  • The first line you put in a painting, is actually the fifth. The four sides of the picture are very important. - Nathan Oliveira

  • All you need to paint is a few tools, a little instruction, and a vision in your mind. - Bob Ross

  • This is your world You’re the creator. Find freedom on this canvas. Believe, that you can do it, ‘Cuz you can do it. You can do it. -Bob Ross

On the Importance of Practice…

  • If people only knew how hard I work to gain my mastery. It wouldn't seem so wonderful at all. -Michelangelo

  • 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

  • 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

  • Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working. - Pablo Picasso

  • 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

  • Practice what you know and it will help you to make clear what you do not know. - Rembrandt

  • Painting is easy when you don't know how, but very difficult when you do. - Edgar Degas

  • Stay firmly in your path and dare. Be wild two hours a day! - Paul Gauguin

  • The successful painter is continually painting from still life. - Charles Hawthorn

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

  • Swing a bigger brush – you don’t know what fun you are missing. --Charles Hawthorn

  • Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist. - Pablo Picasso

  • Talent is a pursued interest. Anything that you're willing to practice, you can do. ― Bob Ross

On the primacy of seeing…

  • It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see. - Henry David Thoreau

  • Look around and select a subject that you can see painted. That will paint itself. Do the obvious thing before you do the superhuman thing. - Charles Hawthorne

  • In drawing, one must look for or suspect that there is more than is casually seen. -George Bridgman

  • The artist must train not only his eye but also his soul. - Wassily Kandinsky

  • Let’s build a happy little cloud. Let’s build some happy little trees. ― Bob Ross

  • Each day has its own individuality of color. --Charles Hawthorn

  • Drawing is not what one sees, but what one can make others see. - Edgar Degas


On the Act of Finishing…

  • Art is never finished, only abandoned. - Leonardo da Vinci

  • The weight and value of a work of art depends upon its big simplicity – We begin and end with the study of the great spots in relation one to another. --Charles Hawthorne

  • I have already settled it for myself, so flattery and criticism go down the same drain and I am quite free. - Georgia O’Keeffe

  • A true masterpiece does not tell everything. - Albert Camus

  • The intelligent painter is always making use of accidents. --Charles Hawthorne

  • We don't make mistakes, just happy little accidents. ― Bob Ross

  • The true end of art is not to imitate a fixed material condition, but to represent a living emotion. -George Inness

On the Importance of Art

  • 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

  • He who works with his hands is a laborer. 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

  • The painter has the Universe in his mind and hands. ― Leonardo da Vinci

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

  • It would be possible to describe everything scientifically, but it would make no sense; it would be without meaning, as if you described a Beethoven symphony as a variation of wave pressure. - Albert Einstein

  • The artist sees what others only catch a glimpse of. - Leonardo da Vinci

  • Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth. - Pablo Picasso


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