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How do you find out who you are if it isn’t from other people? Painting may be the only thing in life that I’ve been confident about.

— Lois Dodd

For one thing, I want gesture-any kind of gesture, all kinds of gesture–gentle or brutal, joyous or tragic; the gesture of space soaring, sinking, streaming, whirling; the gestures of light flowing or spurting through color. I see everything as possessing or possessed by gesture. I’ve often thought of my paintings as having an axis around which everything revolves.

— Elaine de Kooning, Statement: It Is. No 4, Autumn, 1959 Magazine for Abstract Art, Second Half publishing Co., NY.

The Minimalists are idealist. They want to minimise themselves in favour of the ideal. But I just can’t. You see, my paintings are not cool. … I’m very careful not to have ideas, because they’re inaccurate.

— Agnes Martin

Interpretation takes the sensory experience of the work of art for granted, and proceeds from there… Ours is a culture based on excess, on overproduction; the result is a steady loss of sharpness in our sensory experience. All the conditions of modern life — its material plenitude, its sheer crowdedness — conjoin to dull our sensory faculties. And it is in the light of the condition of our senses, our capacities (rather than those of another age), that the task of the critic must be assessed.
What is important now is to recover our senses. We must learn to see more, to hear more, to feel more.

— Susan Sontag

When you have an idea, you don’t say no to it. You say yes to it, and let it get louder and louder. Maybe it is a very hazy place, but I keep going with it. I follow it all the way.

— Judy Rifka

I feel like the ability to work within a structure that’s coherent and maintain spontaneity at every turn is essential for art making. You need the lightness of spontaneity, but structure is grounding.

— Joan Waltemath

I will astonish Paris with an apple.

— Paul Cezanne

The successful painter is continually painting still life.

— Charles Hawthorne

I work on all parts of my painting at once, improving it very gently until I find that the effect is complete.

— Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot

The painter has to unlearn the habit of thinking that things seem to have the colour which common sense says they ‘really’ have, and to learn the habit of seeing things as they appear.

— Bertrand Russell

We must never forget that any painting–before being a warhorse, a nude woman, an anecdote, or whatnot–is essentially a flat surface covered with colors arranged in a certain order.

— Maurice Denis

Everything that you can see in the world around you, presents itself to your eyes only as an arrangement of patches of different colours…

— John Ruskin

There is no model; there is only color.

— Paul Cezanne

Paint what you see, not what you know.

— Charles Hawthorne

Art is art-as-art and everything else is everything else.

— Ad Reinhardt

The principles of true art is not to portray, but to evoke.

— Jerzy Kosinski

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

— Marc Chagall

Color is the place where our brain and the universe meet.

— Paul Klee

I think art parallels life. Color, in my opinion, behaves like a man…in two distinct ways: first is self-realization and then in the realization of the relationship with others. In my paintings I have tried to make two polarities meet––independence and interdependence, as, for instance in Pompeian art. There’s a certain red the Pompeians used that speaks in both these ways, first, in its relation to other colors around it, and then, as it appears alone, keeping its own face. In other words, one must combine both, being an individual and being a member of society….And from all this, you may conclude that I consider ethics and aesthetics as one.

— Josef Albers

The creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act.

— Marcel Duchamp

The purpose of art is the gradual, lifelong construction of a state of wonder and serenity.

— Glenn Gould

Frustration is a part of everyday life and should be understood, both in life and in art, as something to be worked through rather than as something to be avoided. Frustration is a temporary but inevitable reaction to a challenging situation. It dissolves into delicious satisfaction once we realize our goal.

— Brian Curtis, Drawing from Observation

Painting on the one hand brings you back to physical reality, the actual space we all inhabit. The thick oil, the bi-dimensionality of the surface constantly brings you back to where you are physically. They are real things in the real world and they are happening in front of you. But at the same time the imagery refers to other things, gives you pictures, triggers the imagination, the memory of something and creates a fantasy…. They deal with physical reality and illusion simultaneously….whereas painting gives you the body as well. Your own body.

— Jonathan Lasker

Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.

— George Bernard Shaw

There is no reason that cathartic works of art cannot be aesthetically pleasing while providing a sense of meaningful energy and visual or metaphysical insight.

— Michael Cook

Of all the arts, abstract painting is the most difficult. It demands that you know how to draw well, that you have a heightened sensitivity for composition and for colours, and that you be a true poet. This last is essential.

— Wassily Kandinsky

Up until 35 I had a slightly skewed world view. I honestly believed everybody in the world wanted to make abstract paintings, and people only became lawyers and doctors and brokers and things because they couldn’t make abstract paintings.

— Frank Stella

In the process of making a painting in an abstract way, the painter is in search of a reality. Not one of realistic objects, but of the complete end result. The painting is experienced as a whole, and must evoke in the painter the absolute conviction that this is how it should be and no other way.

— Paul Burlin

John first glimpsed this pattern on a passing car, recalling: “I only saw it for a second, but knew immediately that I was going to use it. It had all the qualities that interest me—literalness, repetitiveness, an obsessive quality, order with dumbness, and the possibility of a complete lack of meaning.

— Jasper Johns, (source unknown)

Something is shifting in my work. I know it, can feel it, but am blind to it somehow, until it manifests itself complete. It is the way it goes. For a few weeks or a few months, sometimes a few years, there will be this blindness that I try very hard to live in, developing other senses, spidey senses, that tell me this, rather than that, more, rather than less. Until it is clear, there will be some dark days and muddy canvases and fists full of air where I grasped too hard.

Then one day I will put on new glasses and all the phantom noise will become singing voices and I will make some work with the sense of clarity and purpose, knowing the how and why of each brushstroke and it will be lovely for a little while until painting starts to complicate itself again and we will go dark once more, under the waves. It is a beautiful life.

— Tracey Physioc Brockett
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