Georgia O'Keeffe Quotes

Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986)

Georgia O'Keefe Painting Outdoors
Georgia O'Keefe Painting Outdoors. Tony Vaccaro/Getty Images

Georgia O'Keeffe, born in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, was a painter known for her unique, individualistic style. Her work is sensual -- evoking the sense of the subject of the painting -- and somehow both realistic and abstract.

Georgia O'Keeffe painted both New England -- including New York -- and the Southwest. Her paintings of flowers and bones are perhaps the most recognizable of her images.

Selected Georgia O'Keeffe Quotations

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

• Making your unknown known is the important thing.

• Where I was born and where and how I have lived is unimportant. It is what I have done with where I have been that should be of interest.

• I said to myself, I have things in my head that are not like what anyone has taught me -- shapes and ideas so near to me -- so natural to my way of being and thinking that it hasn't occurred to me to put them down. I decided to start anew, to strip away what I had been taught.

• I know I cannot paint a flower. I cannot paint the sun on the desert on a bright summer morning, but maybe in terms of paint color I can convey to you my experience of the flower or the experience that makes the flower of significance to me at that particular time.

• 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.

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

• I'll paint it big and they will be surprised into taking the time to look at it – I will make even busy New Yorkers take time to see what I see of flowers.

• Whether the flower or the color is the focus I do not know. I do know the flower is painted large to convey my experience with the flower -- and what is my experience if it is not the color?

• I think I am one of the few who gives our country any voice of its own.

• One can not be an American by going about saying that one is an American. It is necessary to feel America, like America, love America and then work.

• One can't paint New York as it is, but rather as it is felt.

• Now and then when I get an idea for a picture, I think, how ordinary. Why paint that old rock? Why not go for a walk instead? But then I realise that to someone else it may not seem so ordinary.

• Sun-bleached bones were most wonderful against the blue - that blue that will always be there as it is now after all man's destruction is finished.

• I found I could say things with colors that I couldn't say in any other way -- things that I had no words for.

• I don't much enjoy looking at paintings in general. I know too much about them. I take them apart.

• I don't see why we ever think of what others think of what we do -- no matter who they are. Isn't it enough just to express yourself?

• Wise men say it isn't art! But what of it, if it is children and love in paint?

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

• I have had to go to men as sources in my painting because the past has left us so small an inheritance of woman's painting that had widened life.... Before I put a brush to canvas I question, "Is this mine? Is it all intrinsically of myself? Is it influenced by some idea or some photograph of an idea which I have acquired from some man?"

• Objective painting is not good painting unless it is good in the abstract sense. A hill or tree cannot make a good painting just because it is a hill or tree. It is lines and colors put together so that they may say something.

• Slits in nothingness are not very easy to paint.

• 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.

• The days you work are the best days.

• You get whatever accomplishment you are willing to declare.

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