Today is International Artist's Day and I am honoring Georgia O'Keeffe.
I first learned about O'Keeffe in art school in 1986 (the year she died) when we were shown a film about her life. Even though I was learning graphic design, I was deeply inspired as an artist by the way she lived in peace and creativity. There were long periods of silence of her just walking though the dessert picking up bones and rocks to paint.
I love the womanly feel to her paintings, her color and originality.
When I painted this portrait it felt so familiar and it made me want to go back to Santa Fe and immerse my self in the landscape and art.
Georgia Totto O'Keeffe (November 15, 1887 – March 6, 1986) was an Americanartist. Born near Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, O'Keeffe was a major figure in American art from the 1920s. New York Times critic, Jed Perl, in 2004 described her paintings as both "bold and hermetic, immediately appealing and unnervingly impassive." She received widespread recognition for her technical contributions, as well as for challenging the boundaries of modern American artistic style. She is chiefly known for paintings of flowers, rocks, shells, animal bones, and landscapes in which she synthesized abstraction and representation. Her paintings present crisply contoured forms that are replete with subtle tonal transitions of varying colors. She often transformed her subject matter into powerful abstract images.
Blue and Green Music, Georgia O'Keeffe, 1921
Nobody sees a flower, really, it is so small. We haven’t time – and to see takes time like to have a friend takes time.
If I could paint the flower exactly as I see it no one would see what I see because I would paint it small like the flower is small. So I said to myself – I’ll paint what I see – what the flower is to me but I’ll paint it big and they will be surprised into taking time to look at it – I will make even busy New Yorkers take time to see what I see of flowers.
…Well, I made you take time to look at what I saw and when you took time to really notice my flower you hung all your own associations with flowers on my flower and you write about my flower as if I think and see what you think and see of the flower – and I don’t.
Georgia O’Keeffe 1887-1986
Oil on 20×24 inch canvas
This client wanted both of her dogs painted, so I tried to match them as if they would hang together. Both of them were at least 80 lbs each and so sweet.
I'll be going back to Bald Head the Saturday after Thanksgiving to do another painting demo and taking orders for Christmas.
I will taking a break for about a week and a half to work on a very large website that needs to be up for Christmas, so you might not hear from me for awhile. Maybe some here and there - you know I can't live without painting for very long. :)
On Saturday I went to see a painting demo by a well know artist, Charles Movalli, who is known for loose, expressive paintings and recently judged the 2010 Oil Painters of America Eastern Region Exhibit, which was held here in Wilmington, NC.
As I watched, I realized I had never seen a painting demo and thought how great it was that this was the first! Movalli was just amazing... I loved his unapologetic attitude towards his art and the audience. His idea is - "I finish the painting when I think it's done and if you don't thinks it's done, it's not my problem." "Paintings are like steaks, some people like them rare, some well done... it's really just a matter of taste."
During the demo he just seemed to have so much fun and it looked more like play than laboring over a master piece and although it looked as though he was playing, he knew exactly what color to put where and when. He had a vast knowledge of technique and color theory. It was genius and it had a huge impression on me.
I realized I really need to do this more often and I have to take some classes on technique and color theory - there is so much to learn. I have always wanted to take classes, but never got around to it. I now realize that it is crucial to my career as an artist.
If you ever get a chance to see Movalli, I highly recommend it!
Here are some quotes by him:
"On the face of it, the easiest of all activities should be seeing what we see. In reality, it's the hardest."
"The painterly painter is in the highest state of tension, and the relaxation of this tension signals the finish of the picture."
"It can't look like you've worked hard and long, even if you have. A painting should be done quickly with both your intellect and your nerves. When they give out, stop."
I was out on my morning walk and started thinking today instead of looking down when I walk, I will look straight ahead. When I did this I started to think about all the details that I get lost in when I look down and don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of details, but sometimes I can get confused and stagnant in my thinking and I'm speaking literally and metaphorically.
Anyway, I started to think about where I am in my life... at a cross road. One way points to graphic design and the other points to painting. I've been at this place for awhile. Graphic design means money, safety and security. Painting is less money, lots of hard work, putting myself out "there" for a lot of hits, bruising and not to mention pain and self doubt, but the rewards are indescribable.
I should probably give you some history... when I was young I always wanted to be an artist. I loved drawing, art, everything about being creative, it was an escape for me, it was (is) who I am. When I got to the point in my life of deciding what I wanted to support myself with, I found graphic design and fell in love with it. It became who I am and I still love it, it's just not that rewarding to me anymore. No one will be putting a brochure or menu I designed on their wall for years to come and then I think... is this dilemma, vanity? Or is it how I want to define myself and at what cost?
Toward the end of my walk I started thinking "Okay, I get it, but what do I do with all of this? Where is my decision?" and I was okay with not making a decision today, but then I looked down and saw a brightly colored leaf and it hit me! It's only when the leaf reaches the end of it's life - it starts showing it's best colors and I was profoundly jarred. Do I really want to spend the rest of my life doing something that I feel is not rewarding, that doesn't feel like the core of "who I am? 'NO!"
Well, I hope that I live longer than a leaf's life and that I can find my "color" in my journey... There are no assurances, guarantees but, I know it will be rewarding.