Monday, October 25, 2010

International Artist Day - Georgia O'Keeffe

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 American artist. 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 

Photo by Irving Penn


  1. I agree with you Clair, Georgia O'Keefe is very inspirational, especially her bones paintings.