A truly good book is something as wildly natural and primitive, mysterious and marvelous, ambrosial and fertile, as a fungus or a lichen.—Journal, 16 November 1850
A written word is the choicest of relics. It is something at once more intimate with us and more universal than any other work of art. It is the work of art nearest to life itself.—Walden
As for the religion and love of art of the builders, it is much the same all the world over, whether the building be an Egyptian temple or the United States Bank.—Walden
As it is, each takes us up into the serene heavens, whither the smallest bubble rises as surely as the largest, and paints earth and sky for us. Any sincere thought is irresistible.—A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers
Early in the morning I worked barefooted, dabbling like a plastic artist in the dewy and crumbling sand, but later in the day the sun blistered my feet.—Walden
For one that comes with a pencil to sketch or sing, a thousand come with an axe or rifle.—The Maine Woods
For the true art is not merely a sublime consolation and holiday labor, which the gods have given to sickly mortals; but such a masterpiece as you may imagine a dweller on the tablelands of central Asia might produce, with threescore and ten years for canvas, and the faculties of a man for tools,—a human life; wherein you might hope to discover more than the freshness of Guido's Aurora, or the mild light of Titian's landscapes,—no bald imitation nor even rival of Nature, but rather the restored original of which she is the reflection.—"The Service"
He is the true artist whose life is his material—every stroke of the chisel must enter his own flesh and bone, and not grate dully on marble.—Journal, 23 June 1840
He sketches first, with strong, practical English pencil, the essential features in outline, black on white, more faithfully that Dryasdust would have done, telling us wisely whom and what to mark, to save time, and then with a brush of camel's hair, or sometimes with more expeditious swab, he lays on the bright and fast colors of his humor everywhere.—"Thomas Carlyle and His Works"
How admirably the artist is made to accomplish his self-culture by devotion to his art! The wood-sawyer, through his effort to do his work well, becomes not merely a better wood-sawyer, but measurably a better man.—Thoreau to H.G.O. Blake, 19 December 1853