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Art Quotes on Excellence


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The sad truth is that excellence makes people nervous. (Shana Alexander)

He who does it first may do well, but he who does it best will do better. (Scott Allen)

The test of the artist does not lie in the will with which he goes to work, but in the excellence of the work he produces. (St. Thomas Aquinas)

With regard to excellence, it is not enough to know, but we must try to have and use it. (Aristotle)

Limitation of means is a precondition of excellence. Creative freedom chooses its limitations. Destructive freedom rejects them heedlessly. (Darby Bannard)

Prospects do not buy how good you are at what you do. They buy how good you are at who you are. (Harry Beckwith)

Excellence is a better teacher than mediocrity. The lessons of the ordinary are everywhere. Truly profound and original insights are to be found only in studying the exemplary. (Warren G. Bennis)

To become a good artist you must first be a good learner, a good teacher, a good appropriator and a good personal coach. (Robert Bissett)

Perfection, fortunately, is not the only alternative to mediocrity. A more sensible alternative is excellence. Striving for excellence is stimulating and rewarding; striving for perfection – in practically anything – is both neurotic and futile. (Edwin Bliss)

The more I keep at it, the more I paint, the more likely I am to produce something beyond the adequate level. It also increases the odds of hitting the knock-on effect where one thing leads to another to another. (Marion Boddy-Evans)

An expert is someone who has succeeded in making decisions and judgements simpler through knowing what to pay attention to and what to ignore. (Edward de Bono)

The best that an individual can do is to concentrate on what he or she can do, in the course of a burning effort to do it better. (Elizabeth Bowen)

I may not be totally perfect, but parts of me are excellent. (Ashleigh Brilliant)

The desire of excellence is the necessary attribute of those who excel. We work little for a thing unless we wish for it. (Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton)

Doing work points the way to new and better work to be done. (Julia Cameron)

Whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well. (Earl of Chesterfield)

Just as good, isn't. (Julia Child)

-of Sweden, 1629-1689...
It is necessary to try to surpass oneself always; this occupation ought to last as long as life. (Queen Christina)

Excellence is not an act but a habit... (Marva Collins)

Errors like straws upon the surface flow: / Who would search for pearls must dive below. (John Dryden)

Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. (Will Durant)

Encouraging excellence and work of rare beauty... gives the creator a measure of trade security since excellence cannot be copied cheaply. This also elevates the craftsperson of unskilled labour to artisan. (Lloyd Dykk)

If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate. (Eight-year-old)

Excellence encourages one about life generally; it shows the spiritual wealth of the world. (George Eliot)

One that desires to excel should endeavor in those things that are in themselves most excellent. (Epictetus)

One of those men who reach such an acute limited excellence at twenty-one that everything afterward savors of anti-climax. (F. Scott Fitzgerald)

Some people have greatness thrust upon them. Very few have excellence thrust upon them. (John W. Gardner)

I've come to realize that companionship and mild competition can help build quality and lay the ground for excellence. (Robert Genn)

Where none admire, 'tis useless to excel; / Where none are beaux, 'tis vain to be a belle. (Lord Lyttelton George)

In art the best is good enough. (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

There are some faults so nearly allied to excellence, that we can scarce weed out the fault without eradicating the virtue. (Oliver Goldsmith)

I had rather excel others in the knowledge of what is excellent, than in the extent of my power and dominion. (Alexander the Great)

Be modest; be self-critical, but aim for the highest. (Irwin Greenberg)

Look at any inspired painting. It's like a gong sounding; it puts you in a state of reverberation. (Philip Guston)

Master a craft or medium completely as possible and you will be able to say anything you want with that medium. (Joel Haas)

My parents always told me that people will never know how long it takes you to do something. They will only know how well it is done. (Nancy Hanks)

For a long time now I have tried simply to write the best I can. Sometimes I have good luck and write better than I can. (Ernest Hemingway)

Within us there is someone who knows everything, wills everything, does everything better than we ourselves. (Hermann Hesse)

We clamor for equality chiefly in matters in which we ourselves cannot hope to obtain excellence. (Eric Hoffer)

Ten thousand times I've done my best and all's to do again. (A. E. Housman)

Good, better, best. Never let it rest. 'Til your good is better and your better is best. (St. Jerome)

Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected. (Steve Jobs)

-The Second Coming of Steve Jobs by Alan Deutschman, 2000...
You've baked a really lovely cake, but then you've used dog shit for frosting. (Steve Jobs)

Excellence in any department can be attained only by the labor of a lifetime; it is not to be purchased at a lesser price. (Samuel Johnson)

There is no real excellence in all of this world which can be separated from right living. (David Starr Jordan)

No amount of virtuosic skill and choice of subject matter can be a substitute for depth and poetry. (Scott Kahn)

A work will only have deep resonance if the kind of darkness I can generate is something that is resident in me already. (Anish Kapoor)

The excellence of every art is its intensity, capable of making all disagreeables evaporate, from their being in close relationship with beauty and truth. (John Keats)

Whether you're already an accomplished painter or just beginning on your path to artistic excellence, there is always more to learn, and higher levels of perfection to aim for. (Daniel J. Keys)

If a man is called a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great streetsweeper who did his job well. (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence. (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

There are lots of ways to make good work. You can throw big bucks at a project and make what some would call crap, or you can work very modestly with eloquently moving results. (Barbara Kruger)

There's only one real sin, and that is to persuade oneself that the second-best is anything but the second-best. (Doris Lessing)

The quality of a man's life is in direct proportion to his commitment to excellence, regardless of his chosen field of endeavor. (Vince Lombardi)

In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity. (Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

More detail doesn't necessarily mean a better painting, it just means more detail. (Tom Lynch)

In every kind of endeavor, there are ample opportunities for extra effort. Grab those opportunities, embrace that extra effort and transform ordinary mediocrity into bright and shining excellence. (Ralph Marston)

It's a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it. (W. Somerset Maugham)

-b.372 BC d.289 BC...
Let not a man do what his sense of right bids him not to do, nor desire what it forbids him to desire. This is sufficient. The skillful artist will not alter his measures for the sake of a stupid workman. (Mencius)

It may have been in pieces, but I gave you the best of me. (Jim Morrison)

I've zeroed in on what you would call action and excellence... Everybody who does anything to try to succeed has to give the best of themselves, and art has made me pull the best out of myself. (LeRoy Neiman)

We need to internalize this idea of excellence. Not many folks spend a lot of time trying to be excellent. (Barack Obama)

The pursuit of excellence is less profitable than the pursuit of bigness, but it can be more satisfying. (David Ogilvy)

There is no excellency without difficulty. (Ovid)

Better a little which is well done, than a great deal imperfectly. (Plato)

No verse is libre for the man who wants to do a good job. (Ezra Pound)

Put your best foot forward. (English proverb)

While I recommend studying the art from artists, Nature is and must be the fountain which alone is inexhaustible, and from which all excellences must originally flow. (Sir Joshua Reynolds)

Many people can reach for and achieve excellence. To do this consistently is what separates masters and geniuses from everyone else. (Paul Russo)

Form your life humanly, and you have done enough: but you will never reach the height of art and the depth of science without something divine. (Friedrich Von Schlegel)

It is not the most brilliant that excel in film, but the most patient! (Martin Scorsese)

-b.1632 d.1677...
All excellent things are as difficult as they are rare. (Baruch Spinoza)

The secret of living a life of excellence is merely a matter of thinking thoughts of excellence. Really, it's a matter of programming our minds with the kind of information that will set us free. (Charles Swindoll)

It takes a long time to bring excellence to maturity. / No one knows what he can do till he tries. (Publilius Syrus)

I have not wanted to intimidate audiences. I have not wanted my dancing to be an elitist form. That doesn't mean I haven't wanted it to be excellent. (Twyla Tharp)

We succeed in enterprises which demand the positive qualities we possess, but we excel in those which can also make use of our defects. (Alexis de Tocqueville)

The foundation of lasting self-confidence and self-esteem is excellence, mastery of your work. (Brian Tracy)

Excellence is not a destination; it is a continuous journey that never ends. (Brian Tracy)

Hunger for excellence. Continuously seek inspiration to make your work better. (Cory Trepanier)

I would venture to affirm that a man cannot attain excellence if he satisfy the ignorant and not those of his own craft, and if he be not 'singular' or 'distant,' or whatever you like to call him. (Leonardo da Vinci)

Never become so much of an expert that you stop gaining expertise. View life as a continuous learning experience. (Denis Waitley)

When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves. (William Arthur Ward)

If you want to achieve excellence, you can get there today. As of this second, quit doing less-than-excellent work. (Thomas J. Watson, Sr.)


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Last modified: April 20, 2014