I decided to put together some of my favorite color quotes by the master artists. Color is such a mysterious and fascinating area and it is interesting to read how some of the master artists viewed color.
When many of these artists were alive, color was not nearly as understood or studied as it is now. These artists relied much more on intuition rather than a scientific understanding of how color works. In some ways, this may have been an advantage to work with a focus on intuition.
Anyway, here are some of my favorite color quotes. Let me know your favorite in the comments.
“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for.” Georgia O'Keeffe
“I prefer living in color.” David Hockney
“I look out the window sometimes to seek the color of the shadows and the different greens in the trees, but when I get ready to paint I just close my eyes and imagine a scene.” Grandma Moses
“It is the eye of ignorance that assigns a fixed and unchangeable color to every object; beware of this stumbling block.” Paul Gauguin
“Colors, like features, follow the changes of the emotions.” 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
“When the color achieves richness, the form attains its fullness also.” Paul Cezanne
“Color is all. When color is right, form is right. Color is everything, color is vibration like music; everything is vibration.” Marc Chagall
“Not only can color, which is under fixed laws, be taught like music, but it is easier to learn than drawing, whose elaborate principles cannot be taught.” Eugene Delacroix
“I have always wanted my colors to sing.” Paul Delvaux
"Before, when I didn't know what color to put down, I put down black. Black is a force: I depend on black to simplify the construction. Now I've given up blacks." Henri Matisse
"They'll sell you thousands of greens. Veronese green and emerald green and cadmium green and any sort of green you like; but that particular green, never.” Pablo Picasso
“Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the harmonies, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul.” Wassily Kandinsky
“Color is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.” Claude Monet
“Full, saturated colors have an emotional significance I want to avoid.” Lucian Freud
-on Vincent Van Gogh...
“Oh yes! He loved yellow, did good Vincent... When the two of us were together in Arles, both of us insane, and constantly at war over beautiful colors, I adored red; where could I find a perfect vermilion?” Paul Gauguin
“If you see a tree as blue, then make it blue.” Paul Gauguin
“Color! What a deep and mysterious language, the language of dreams.” Paul Gauguin
“It is wonderful how much depends upon the relations of black and white... A black and white, if properly balanced, suggests color.” Winslow Homer
“Better gray than garishness.” Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres
“A parallel between color and music can only be relative – just as a violin can give warm shades of tone, so yellow has shades, which can be expressed by various instruments.” Wassily Kandinsky
“Colors pursue me like a constant worry. They even worry me in my sleep.” Claude Monet
“The point is to know how to use the colors, the choice of which is, when all's said and done, a matter of habit.” Claude Monet
“Whether the flower or the color is the focus I do not know. I do know the flower is painted large to convey my experience with the flower - and what is my experience if it is not the color?” Georgia O'Keeffe
“No small dabs of color - you want plenty of paint to paint with.” John Singer Sargent
“Light is therefore color.” J. M. W. Turner
“If I could find anything blacker than black I'd use it.” J. M. W. Turner
“Black is like a broken vessel, which is deprived of the capacity to contain anything.” Leonardo da Vinci
“There is no blue without yellow and without orange.” Vincent Van Gogh
“I love to study the many things that grow below the corn stalks and bring them back to the studio to study the color. If one could only catch that true color of nature – the very thought of it drives me mad.” Andrew Wyeth
“In nature, light creates the color. In the picture, color creates the light.” Hans Hofmann
“All colors are the friends of their neighbors and the lovers of their opposites.” Marc Chagall
“I can paint you the skin of Venus with mud, provided you let me surround it as I will.” Eugene Delacroix
Which Is Your Favorite Quote?
I struggle to choose any particular favorite, but I do enjoy this Paul Gauguin quote, “Color! What a deep and mysterious language, the language of dreams.”
What is your favorite color quote? Please share in the comments.
(You might be interested in my Painting Academy course. I go into more detail on what color is and how to use it effectively in painting.)