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  • The painting starts to become its own self. But I must be able to detect this. The painting changes and I have to change with it or else it will fail. I'm leading it and following it at the same time.

  • You take a painting, you have a white, virginal piece of canvas that is the world of purity, and then you put your imagery on it, and you try to bring it back to the original purity.

  • The painter constructs, the photographer discloses.

  • Paintings invariably sum up; photographs usually do not. Photographic images are pieces of evidence in an ongoing biography or history. And one photograph, unlike one painting, implies that there will be others.

  • I don't very much enjoy looking at paintings in general. I know too much about them. I take them apart.

    • Georgia O'Keeffe,
    • in Alexander Fried, "An Artist of Her Own School," San Francisco Examiner and Chronicle ()
  • I have painted portraits that to me are almost photographic. I remember hesitating to show the paintings, they looked so real to me. But they have passed into the world as abstractions — no one seeing what they are.

  • ... I ... found myself saying to myself — I can't live where I want to — I can't go where I want to — I can't do what I want to — I can't even say what I want to. ... I decided I was a very stupid fool not to at least paint as I wanted to and say what I wanted to when I painted as that seemed to be the only thing I could do that didn't concern anybody but myself ...

  • God told me if I painted that mountain enough, I could have it.

  • I see no reason for painting anything that can be put into any other form as well.

  • I believe that one should not think too much about nature when painting, at least not during the painting's conception. The colour sketch should be made exactly as one has perceived things in nature. But personal feeling is the main thing.

  • Painting is my vehicle of transit. I don't always know where I am going or what it means.

  • There is no right and wrong way to paint except honestly or dishonestly. Honestly is trying for the bigger thing. Dishonestly is bluffing and getting through a smattering of surface representation with no meaning ...

  • ... in painting I try to make some logic out of the world that has been given to me in chaos. I have a very pretentious idea that I want to make life, I want to make sense out of it. The fact that I am doomed to failure — that doesn't deter me in the least.

    • Grace Hartigan,
    • in Colin Naylor and Genesis P-Orridge, eds., Contemporary Artists ()
  • Everything amazes me, and I paint my amazement which is at the same time wonder, terror, laughter. I would exclude none of my amazement. My desire is to make pictures with many different things, with every contradiction, with the unexpected. I would like to become so agile, so sure of my movements, and of my voice, that nothing could escape me, neither the buoyancy of the birds, the weight of the stone, nor the glow of metal. I would like to observe attentively the strings that pull people forward or hold them back. One should go everywhere, dance, play music, sing, fly, plunge into the depths of the sea, watch lovers, enter factories and hospitals, know by heart many poems, the code civil, and the history of nations. But, alas, painting is long, and the days are short.

  • I do not suppose that any artist imagines he has attained perfection, and, far from any such presumption on my part, I have never yet been quite satisfied with any work of mine.

  • A painter's hand has a thirst for thieving, it steals from heaven and makes a gift to the memories of men, it feigns eternity and it delights in this pretence almost as if it had created rules of its own, more durable and more profoundly true.

  • The only thing I know is that I paint because I need to, and I paint always whatever passes through my head, without any other consideration.

  • I paint my own reality.

  • I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best.

    • Frida Kahlo,
    • in Deborah G. Felder, The 100 Most Influential Women of All Time ()
  • Paintings, like dreams, have a life of their own and I have always painted very much the way I dream.

    • Leonor Fini,
    • in Nina Winter, Interview With the Muse ()
  • The wonderful thing about paintings is that they cannot lie. You can always feel with what kind of energy it has been painted. You can feel the conviction of the painter or her lack of it.

  • I paint the way some people write their autobiography. The paintings, finished or not, are the pages of my journal, and as such they are valid.

  • I paint from the top down. First the sky, then the mountains, then the hills, then the houses, then the cattle, and then the people.

  • ... I get inspiration from things that have nothing to do with painting: caricature, items from newspapers, sights in the street, proverbs, nursery-rhymes, children's games and songs, nightmares, desires, terrors. ... That question [why do you paint?] has been put to me before and my answer was, 'To give terror a face.' But it's more than that. I paint because I can't help it.

  • I can always paint very well with my eyes, but with my hands it doesn't always work out.

    • Käthe Kollwitz,
    • 1942, in Hans Kollwitz, ed., The Diaries and Letters of Käthe Kollwitz ()
  • Painting is a lot harder than pickin' cotton. Cotton's right there for you to pull off the stalk, but to paint, you got to sweat your mind.

    • Clementine Hunter,
    • in Shelby R. Gilley, Painting By Heart: The Life and Art of Clementine Hunter ()
  • I paint pictures which do not exist and which I would like to see.

    • Leonor Fini,
    • in Nina Winter, Interview With the Muse ()