John Sloan was a twentieth-century painter and etcher. He was one of the founders of the Ashcan school of American art, an artistic movement in the United States during the early twentieth century that is best known for works portraying scenes of daily life in New York, often in the city's poorer neighborhoods. In reading the Sloan quotes what comes through is that he sees forms and color as two distinct elements of his work.

He captures the essence of neighborhood life in New York City, often observed through his Chelsea studio window. As the most notable artist of the Ashcan School, Sloan "painted the inexhaustible energy and life of New York City during the first decades of the twentieth century"

Sloan is closely identified with the Ashcan School yet it was a term he despised. He came to feel that it homogenized too many different painters, focused on content rather than style, and presupposed a muckraking intent. His wariness was not misplaced: exhibitions of Ashcan art in recent decades often stress its documentary quality and importance as part of an historical record, whereas Sloan felt that any artist worth anything had to be appreciated for his skilled brushwork, color, and composition. (excerpt from wikipedia)

John Sloan Quotes About Color

Who ever heard of a musician who was passionately fond of B flat? Color is like music. The palette is an instrument that can be orchestrated to build form.”


The great black and white draftsman, the sculptor, and the blind man know that form and color are separate. The form itself is what the blind man knows… Color is surface skin that fits over the form.


“To play your colors by eye is worse than playing the piano by ear.” - John Sloan #color #quotes

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Painting is drawing, with the additional means of color. Painting without drawing is just ‘coloriness,’ color excitement. To think of color for color’s sake is like thinking of sound for sound’s sake. Color is like music. The palette is an instrument that can be orchestrated to build form.


Form your own color concept of things in nature. I have no rules for fine color to give you.


Don’t think of sea as color. Make it a solid that can support a boat. Think of ‘wetness’ as color-texture.


Feature Image Credit: John Sloan [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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