Georgia O’Keeffe is regarded by many people as a major figure in American art. Even though she was profoundly influenced by other famous artists during the twentieth century, she stayed true to herself and her artistic vision, which focused on portraying the beauty of abstract forms in nature. One of my favorite quotes about art reflects Georgia’s unique perceptions about her world: “I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way — things I had no words for.” ~ Georgia O'Keeffe
Georgia O’Keeffe was born in 1887 near Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. She experienced a rural lifestyle, growing up surrounded by her parents, siblings, and extended family members. In 1905, she attended the Art Institute of Chicago; then she attended the Art Students League of New York from 1907-1908; later she studied at Columbia University Teacher’s College from 1914-1916. She was an art teacher at various schools: Virginia, Texas, and South Carolina from
During 1915-1916, Georgia was inspired to create a series of charcoal drawings that focused on line, shape, and tone, unique abstract compositions that eventually captured the attention of
the photographer, Alfred Stieglitz; in January of 1916, he exhibited these extraordinary drawings in his 291 Gallery. With Alfred’s encouragement, Georgia arrived in New York in 1918; they soon moved into an apartment, and they were eventually married in 1924. Due to Alfred’s influence, Georgia was introduced to a group of American modern artists: Arthur Dove, John Marin, Marsden Hartley, and Charles Demuth, as well as many art critics and writers. During the 1920’s, Georgia painted a number of architectural pictures that displayed New York skyscrapers; she also painted landscapes and flowers that she admired while visiting the Stieglitz summer home at Lake George, New York.
In 1929, Georgia enjoyed her first extended trip to New Mexico, where she found new inspiration for her artworks. She soon became enamored with the exotic landscapes that she observed. Her subjects for her drawings and paintings reflected her natural world: hills, mountains, bones, skulls, and plants. Often, she combined these elements in abstract or surreal ways. From 1929-1949, she made annual trips alone to New Mexico, often staying several months at a time. She would return to New York to be with Alfred throughout the
winter months, until his death in 1946.
After Georgia became a widow, she continued to create numerous artworks that truly conveyed her insights about her life in New Mexico, which transcended the Western cultural traditions that she observed, to reflect her artistic vision of America and the world beyond. Hence, viewers could relate to her drawings and paintings, regardless of their cultural backgrounds.
My interest in Georgia O’Keeffe began several decades ago. I am fascinated by her floral and landscape abstractions, often displayed with vivid colors and unique shapes. My pen and ink drawing, a still life featuring an assortment of objects: a bone, a coffee pot, a cowboy boot, a few roses, and a skull, reflects Georgia’s focus on similar objects in her paintings. My pastel
drawing that features a Western landscape also is inspired by Georgia’s New Mexico landscape themes. It is my hope to portray the beauty of the natural world so that my viewers can interpret the cultural meaning behind my artistic vision.
pen and ink