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  • Trish Kennedy-Howe

I Feel I’ve Learned Something Today

Updated: Oct 24, 2023

In addition to expressing themselves through their painting, there are many artists who also have interesting thoughts and opinions to communicate as well.

Here are a few quotations from famous artists that I think are worth taking a look at:

Paul Cezanne once said, “I could paint for a hundred years, a thousand years, without stopping and I would still feel as though I knew nothing.” (I know the feeling.)

According to Andrew Wyeth, “Artists today think that everything they do is a work of art. It is important to forget about what you are doing – then a work of art may happen.”

Edward Hopper said, “If you could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint.” (If you study his paintings, he does appear to always be trying to say something.)

And although he was a literary artist and not really a painter, George Bernard Shaw once said, “You need a glass mirror to see your face; you need works of art to see your soul.”

“I paint flowers so they will not die,” said Frida Kahlo. (Kind of quirky.)

From Robert Henri, “I am interested in art as a means of living a life, not as a means of making a living.”

“The more I paint, the more I like everything” was said by Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Juan Gris made this practical statement: “I always pet a dog with my left hand because if he bit me, I’d still have my right hand to paint with.”

And Elaine de Kooning said this: “Artists are like cockroaches; everything is grist for the mill.”

From Leonardo da Vinci, there are two I like:

The first is, “Art is never finished; it is only abandoned.” (I can relate. I never finish a painting. Even when it’s framed and hanging on the wall, I still see things I could improve upon. But instead of finishing the painting, I have abandoned it.) And the second quote from da Vinci is “I have offended God and mankind because my work didn’t reach the quality it should have.” (Wait! What?)

I totally understand why John Singer Sargent would say this: “Every time I paint a portrait, I lose a friend.” (People like to be portrayed in a flattering way when having their portraits painted. I have seen this so many times on “Portrait Artist of the Year”, a British television program featuring a portrait painting competition. The celebrity subjects of the portraits painted by the competing artists are allowed to choose one to keep for themselves from the three paintings created for them. They don’t choose the most accurate or the most expertly rendered portrait; they always select the most flattering one.)

And following is my favorite artist’s quotation of all.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir was an enthusiastic painter of lush, joyful works. He often talked about how he enjoyed the sensuousness of applying oil paint on smooth canvases. He painted women, flowers, children playing. He painted “Luncheon of the Boating Party” and “Bal du Moulin de la Galette”, two rollicking celebrations of dancing, drinking and dining. His love of life and painting is very evident in his work.

At the end of his long life, in his old age, he had difficulties caused by semi paralysis and arthritis in his hands. He was in continual pain and had to be lifted into a wheelchair and seated in front of his easel. But his infirmities didn’t stop him from continuing to paint rich, exuberant pictures – portraits, flowers and nudes – right up until the day of his death.

He was still painting – it was a flower piece – on the morning of the day he died. It is reported that when he put down his brushes, he said “I feel I’ve learned something today.”

How great is that?


painting of event in town

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