Georgia O’Keeffe: this is not a biography

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.

~ Georgia O'Keeffe

Georgia O'Keeffe - charcoal and gesso and digital image

Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986) was an American artist and writer. Her letters and interviews have been published, among others, by the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe.  http://www.okeeffemuseum.org

Most people have probably seen the big, bold, iconic flowers she painted; however, she also painted landscapes, and cityscapes, and later in life, when she began to travel extensively, she painted the places she visited. But, this is not a biography!

I am always attracted to women who are a bit unusual for the times in which they lived. I think O'Keeffe was one such person.

In the reference photo I found of her, she appears to be severe with her hair so tightly pinned back, somewhat plain, almost certainly very straightforward. I couldn't find a date for the photo on which my sketch is based, but I am guessing that the artist must have been in her fifties.

I painted O'Keeffe in my sketchbook using charcoal to outline and shade the portrait and then filled in and blended the charcoal with the white gesso.

Next I imported the image into Procreate, a digital app for Ipad, and used one of my own acrylic flower paintings as her background (sorry Georgia!), and then imported that blended image and  reworked it in Repix, another art app, to soften the colours in the background.

 

The first quotation above next to her portrait, reminds us not to take anything for granted.

Flowers and friends are often easy to dismiss, after all, they are just there, right? But both have to be carefully nurtured and time is needed to appreciate them. O'Keeffe worded the idea very succinctly.

 

Here is a selection of O'Keeffe's beliefs about art and life:

~I decided that if I could paint that flower in a huge scale, you could not ignore its beauty.

~There's something about black. You feel hidden away in it.

~To create one's own world, in any of the arts, takes courage.

~I've been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I've never let it keep me from doing a single thing that I wanted to do.

~I have lived on a razor's edge. So what if you fall off - I'd rather be doing something I really wanted to do. I'd walk it again.

~Schools and things that painters have taught me even keep me from painting as I want to. I decided I was a very stupid fool not to at least paint as I wanted to and say what I wanted to when I painted...

~I have already settled it for myself so flattery and criticism go down the same drain and I am quite free.

~I feel that there is something unexplored about women that only a woman can explore.

~I think it's so foolish for people to want to be happy. Happy is so momentary - you're happy for an instant and then you start thinking again.

 

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