inspiration: georgia o'keeffe

"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

As an artist (and a person) I'm always looking for inspiration. To say that Georgia O'Keeffe is an inspiration would be an understatement. There is a reason she is the most famous female artist and one of the most photographed and written about women of the last century. 

So rather than add to the vast writing about O'Keeffe I'll try to (briefly) explain why I personally am drawn to not just her work, but her life and her spirit. 

"To create one's world in any of the arts takes courage.” - Georgia O'Keeffe

I've only been seriously painting for the last year or so and all that time I have fought a bit of an inner battle over sharing my work. While my constant social media stream may say otherwise, it is difficult to put your work out for judgement. Making anything is an act of courage and O'Keeffe is a great example of living courageously.

O'Keeffe made art her way when female artists weren't as respected as they are now. She was the first woman to have a retrospective show at the MoMA and as her obituary in the New York Times noted, she "raised the awareness of the American public to the fact that a woman could be the equal of any man in her chosen field…she left her mark on the history of American art and made it possible for other women to explore a new gamut of symbolic and ambiguous imagery.”

ghost ranch
ghost ranch

Chimney Rock trail at ghost ranch, Abiquiu NM

"When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it's your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not. ” - Georgia O'Keeffe

I am inspired by O'Keeffe to take time to look at things deeply. To take all the beauty that surrounds me and create without excuses or reservations. 

The New York Times noted that she "would wrap herself in a blanket and wait, shivering, in the cold dark for a sunrise to paint; would climb a ladder to see the stars from a roof, and hop around in her stockings on an enormous canvas to add final touches before all the paint dried."  

That is how I want to live my life. 

Photos: Left  Right

"I've been absolutely terrified every moment of my life - and I've never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.” - Georgia O'Keeffe

I think about this quote a lot - especially on planes (ha) But seriously, I've made a great effort the last few years to acknowledge fear and keep going. I would never have some of the amazing experiences that I have if I allowed fear to rule. And because of that, one of the greatest compliments I can receive is that I am brave. 

Georgia was brave - brave in her art and her life. She lived the way she wanted to and did the things she wanted to. She made the backseat of her Ford Model A into a painting studio, she took a rafting trip down the Colorado river at 74 and painted until she became blind - (but then she started sculpting!) She was always evolving and paving the way for so many women and artists to come after her. 

There are so many things that are inspirational to me about O'Keeffe I could ramble on and on but her work and photographs are (of course) the main inspiration. So here are a few of my favorites, some paintings I'm working on, pictures from a few visits to the Georgia O'Keeffe museum in Santa Fe and Ghost Ranch (one of her homes) in Abiquiu, and a short video if you're as much of a fan girl as I am! Enjoy and be inspired :)

Photos: Left   Right

ghost ranch

Photos: Left Right

Photos: Left Right

ghost ranch

She once famously said of Cerro Pedernal (pictured):

"It’s my private mountain. It belongs to me. God told me if I painted it enough, I could have it." - Georgia O'Keeffe

If you've made it this far check out this video from the O'Keeffe museum (that I have watched in its entirety all three times I've visited) :)