“The imagination is not a state. It is the human existence itself.”
William Blake, writer, poet
“The imagination is not a state. It is the human existence itself.”
William Blake, writer, poet
“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”
Pablo Picasso, painter
“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”
Warren Buffet, business figure
I confess I do not believe in time … And the highest enjoyment of timelessness – in a landscape selected at random – is when I stand among rare butterflies and their food plants.
This is ecstasy, and behind the ecstasy is something else, which is hard to explain. It is like a momentary vacuum into which rushes all that I love.
Vladimir Nabokov, Russian, author, book quote from “Speak, Memory”, 1951
“If you want to know what’s really going on in a society or ideology follow the money. If money is flowing to advertising instead of musicians, journalists, and artists, then society is more concerned with manipulation than truth or beauty. If content is worthless, then people will start to become empty-headed and content less.”
”Art transcends all human boundaries. It is a gift of almost inexplicable, magical energy. When our hearts, through our senses, are touched by art, our lives are enhanced.”
-Richard MacDonald, sculptor
Inspiration is not the exclusive privilege of poets or artists. There is, there has been, there will always be a certain group of people whom inspiration visits. It’s made up of all those who’ve consciously chosen their calling and do their job with love and imagination.
Difficulties and setbacks never quell their curiosity. A swarm of new questions emerges from every problem that they solve. Whatever inspiration is, it’s born from a continuous ‘I don’t know.’
Wislawa Szymborska. “The Poet and the World”. Nobel Lecture, http://www.nobelprize.org. December 07, 1996.
“Passion and the desire to communicate, that is the key.”
Julian Bream, 1933-2020, English, musician, composer, guitarist
“Beautiful things don’t ask for attention”
From the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Quote from photographer Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn) to Life Magazine photo editor Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) as they wait for the opportunity the photograph a snow leopard in the wild.
“Have a go. Anybody can do it.”
— Alan Parker, 1944-2020, English, director, filmmaker
All art is an act of faith — a faith that life itself, with all its tragedies and flaws, can be improved by creating something new and putting it out into the world.
I’m not sure we’ll ever go back to what life was just a few months ago, but I do have faith that artists will remain a crucial part of whatever new one we come up with.
M.H. Miller is a features director of T: The New York Times Style Magazine.
I’ve had senators and congressmen ask me,
“What good is an artist, anyway?”
I couldn’t believe it… I would answer…
“An artist provides an abstract mental garden for people to live, think, work, and exist in.”
James Rosenquist, painter, from “Painting Below Zero”, Alfred A. Knopf, 2009, p 249
The spaces between stars are where the work of the universe is done.
Ivan Doig, writer, book quote from “The Sea Runners”, p.68, Simon and Schuster
To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring – it was peace.
Diane Olivier, artist and educator remembers sketching a tomato slice on a trip to France:
“When I look at that drawing I remember the temperature, I remember where we were sitting,” she said. “I remember the shadow falling across the picnic table. I remember the people I was talking to. And when I look back at that drawing, it carries a couple hours of my life with it.”
Diane Olivier, artist
We may pass violets looking for roses. We may pass contentment looking for victory.
Bernard Williams, English, philosopher
Painting: E. Manet, Violets, 1872, a gift to Berthe Morisot
“Happiness, not in another
place but this place…
not for another hour
but this hour”
Walt Whitman, “A Song for Occupations,” Leaves of Grass
But once in a while the odd thing happens
Once in a while the dream comes true
And the whole pattern of life is altered
Once in a while, the moon turns blue
It is a danger to wait around for an idea to occur to you. You have to find the idea.
Light glorifies everything. It transforms and ennobles the most commonplace and ordinary subjects. The object is nothing, light is everything.
Leonard Missone, Belgian, photographer
“Some of the secret joys of living are not found by rushing from point A to point B, but by inventing some imaginary letters along the way.”
-Douglas Pagels, author
-Illustration: Saul Steinberg
”Have you noticed that music and art are already filling the emotional gaps left by the absence of direct human contact?
…The most relevant unit of society at the moment is the entire human family.”
I wonder if there will be an enduring shift in consciousness after all this. All those tribal us-them stories don’t seem quite as germane right now. The most relevant unit of society at the moment is the entire human family.
All those burn-it-down/destroy-the-system/anti-establishment tirades ring a little hollow, too. It’s not the angry outsiders who are protecting us right now, it’s the Establishment.
The whole culture of autonomy seems immature, too: I’m free to be myself! The people who are out there doing their own thing are at Spring Break threatening the lives of the most vulnerable around them.
We’ll need a great reset when this is all over. We need to start planning a…
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“The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with.”
– William Faulkner, writer
Image: Jakob Owens
“Why can’t people just sit and read books and be nice to each other?”
“Art is risk made visible”
Arno Rafael Minkkinen, Photographer
He works alone, his images are all unmanipulated, made with one exposure, with no retouching. ‘I do not use an assistant to look through the camera; otherwise she or he also becomes the photographer. Instead, I have nine seconds to get into the scene, or if I am using a long cable release bulb, I can press it and throw it out of the picture, knowing nine seconds later the camera will fire’ source
A woodman came into a forest to ask the trees to give him a handle for his axe. It seemed so modest a request that the principal trees at once agreed to it, and it was settled among them that a plain, homely ash tree should furnish what was wanted.
No sooner had the woodman fitted the wood to his purpose, than he began laying about him on all sides, felling the noblest trees in the wood. The oak, now seeing the whole matter too late, whispered to the cedar, “The first concession has lost all. If we had not sacrificed our humble neighbor, we might have yet stood for ages ourselves.”
Aesop, from The Trees and the Axe
We live in a fractured world. I’ve always seen it as my role as an artist to attempt to make wholeness.
The trick is not becoming a writer. The trick is staying a writer.
Image: Leonid Pasternak – The Passion of Creation
“I see the shape of the poem before I start writing, and the writing is just the process of arriving at the shape.”
Carol Ann Duffy, poet
Image; Neil Bates
Why shouldn’t we, so generally addicted to the gigantic, at last have some small works of art, some short poems, short pieces of music, some intimate, low-voiced, and delicate things in our mostly huge and roaring, glaring world?
“In a time of destruction, create something: a poem, a parade, a community, a school, a vow, a moral principle; one peaceful moment.”
Image: Anders Nord
“The New Year is a painting not yet painted; a path not yet stepped on; a wing not yet taken off! Things haven’t happened as yet! Before the clock strikes twelve, remember that you are blessed with the ability to reshape your life!”
— Mehmet Murat ildan, Turkish, writer
Image: Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (French, 1755–1842), self portrait
“It’s not where you take things from – it’s where you take them to.”
Jean-Luc Godard, Director
“Nothing can make our life, or the lives of other people, more beautiful than perpetual kindness.”
“You never go to night clubs and
You just don’t care to dance
You don’t have time for silly things
Like moonlight and romance
You only think of dollar bills
Tied neatly in a stack
But when you kiss a dollar bill,
It doesn’t kiss you back”
Song quotes from “Enjoy Yourself“, 1949. Recorded by Guy Lombardo and Louis Prima
Music written by Carl Sigman and lyrics by Herb Magidson.
Enjoy Yourself, (It’s Later Than You Think)
You work and work
For years and years
You’re always on the go
You never take the minute off
Too busy making dough
Someday you’ll say
You’ll have your fun
When you’re a millionaire
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“Love people and use things because the opposite never works.”
Joshua Fields Millburn, author, movie quote from Minimalism – A Documentary About Important Things
“A poem should stimulate the sense of living and of being alive.”
Wallace Stevens, poet
Image: Alex Wing
“I have an idea that the only thing which makes it possible to regard this world we live in without disgust is the beauty which now and then men create out of the chaos.
The pictures they paint, the music they compose, the books they write, and the lives they lead. Of all these the richest in beauty is the beautiful life. That is the perfect work of art.”
―The Painted Veil, 1925
“One looks, looks long, and the world comes in.”
-– Joseph Campbell, author
Image: Keegan Houser
“Leonardo’s great accomplishment was that he erased the distinctions between art and ideas, putting a positive, endgame value on long-term exploring over short-term arriving”
, art critic for the New York Times. Thoughts about the Louvre retrospective of Leonardo da Vinci and honoring the 500th anniversary of his death.
PARIS — To judge by the marketing hullabaloo, the Leonardo da Vinci retrospective that opens here Thursday at the Louvre should be the visual equivalent of a 21-gun salute and a trumpet-and-trombone choir. Blockbuster’s plastered all over it, and rightly so. Timed-ticket sales for its one-stop run are moving right along.
But the marvelous show you actually see, honoring the 500th anniversary of Leonardo’s death, is, tonally, some other thing: quieter, slower, better. It’s a succession of major painterly melodies set among ink-drawn pre-echoes and reverbs. It’s a confluence of presences and absences — art that’s there and some…
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“To be ones self and unafraid whether right or wrong is more admirable than the easy cowardice of surrender to conformity.”
“Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake”
Wallace Stevens , poet, “Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction”, 1942.
Featured image: Eberhard Grossgasteiger
“folks expect of the poet to… indicate the path between reality and their souls”
Walt Whitman, poet
“Songwriting is about getting the demon out of me. It’s like being possessed. You try to go to sleep, but the song won’t let you.
So you have to get up and make it something, and then you’re allowed to sleep. So letting go is what the whole game is.
Every time you try to put your finger on it, it slips away.”
– John Lennon, songwriter, singer, composer, writer, musician