photo of Georgia O'KeeffePhoto Credit: WikiMedia Commons

Quotes by Georgia O'Keeffe

Welcome to our collection of quotes (with shareable picture quotes) by Georgia O'Keeffe. We hope you enjoy pondering them and that you will share them widely.

Wikipedia Summary for Georgia O'Keeffe

Georgia Totto O'Keeffe (November 15, 1887 – March 6, 1986) was an American artist. She was known for her paintings of enlarged flowers, New York skyscrapers, and New Mexico landscapes. O'Keeffe has been recognized as the "Mother of American modernism".

In 1905, O'Keeffe began formal art training at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and then the Art Students League of New York. In 1908, unable to fund further education, she worked for two years as a commercial illustrator and then taught in Virginia, Texas, and South Carolina between 1911 and 1918. During that time, she studied art during the summers between 1912 and 1914 and was introduced to the principles and philosophies of Arthur Wesley Dow, who created works of art based upon personal style, design, and interpretation of subjects, rather than trying to copy or represent them. This caused a major change in the way she felt about and approached art, as seen in the beginning stages of her watercolors from her studies at the University of Virginia and more dramatically in the charcoal drawings that she produced in 1915 that led to total abstraction. Alfred Stieglitz, an art dealer and photographer, held an exhibit of her works in 1917. Over the next couple of years, she taught and continued her studies at the Teachers College, Columbia University in 1914 and 1915.

She moved to New York in 1918 at Stieglitz's request and began working seriously as an artist. They developed a professional relationship and a personal relationship that led to their marriage in 1924. O'Keeffe created many forms of abstract art, including close-ups of flowers, such as the Red Canna paintings, that many found to represent female genitalia, although O'Keeffe consistently denied that intention. The imputation of the depiction of women's sexuality was also fueled by explicit and sensuous photographs that Stieglitz had taken and exhibited of O'Keeffe.

O'Keeffe and Stieglitz lived together in New York until 1929, when O'Keeffe began spending part of the year in the Southwest, which served as inspiration for her paintings of New Mexico landscapes and images of animal skulls, such as Cow's Skull: Red, White, and Blue and Ram's Head White Hollyhock and Little Hills. After Stieglitz's death, she lived permanently in New Mexico at Georgia O'Keeffe Home and Studio in Abiquiú, until the last years of her life when she lived in Santa Fe. In 2014, O'Keeffe's 1932 painting Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1 sold for $44,405,000, more than three times the previous world auction record for any female artist. After her death, the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum was established in Santa Fe.

Quote: I often painted fragments of things because it seemed to make my statement as well as or better than the whole could. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of white board beside pencil and tape
Photo Credit: Kelly Sikkema

I often painted fragments of things because it seemed to make my statement as well as or better than the whole could.


Quote: I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way.

Longer Version/[Notes]:

I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way -- things I had no words for.


Quote: Interest is the most important thing in life; happiness is temporary, but interest is continuous. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

Interest is the most important thing in life; happiness is temporary, but interest is continuous.


Quote: Nobody sees a flower -- really -- it is so small it takes time -- we haven't time -- and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

Nobody sees a flower -- really -- it is so small it takes time -- we haven't time -- and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.


Quote: You write about my flower as if I think and see what you think and see of the flower -- and I don't. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

You write about my flower as if I think and see what you think and see of the flower -- and I don't.


Quote: Filling a space in a beautiful way -- that is what art means to me. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

Filling a space in a beautiful way -- that is what art means to me.


Quote: Bement was a very good teacher but he was a very poor painter. I guess he wasn't a painter at all. He had no courage and I believe that to create one's own world in any of the arts takes courage. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

Bement was a very good teacher but he was a very poor painter. I guess he wasn't a painter at all. He had no courage and I believe that to create one's own world in any of the arts takes courage.


Quote: I'd been taught to paint like other people, and I thought, what's the use? I couldn't do any better than they, or even as well. I was just adding to the brushpile. So I quit. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

I'd been taught to paint like other people, and I thought, what's the use? I couldn't do any better than they, or even as well. I was just adding to the brushpile. So I quit.


Quote: The abstraction is often the most definite form for the intangible thing in myself that I can clarify in paint. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

The abstraction is often the most definite form for the intangible thing in myself that I can clarify in paint.


Quote: Since I cannot sing, I paint. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

Since I cannot sing, I paint.


Quote: All the earth colours of the painter's palette are out there in the many miles of badlands. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

All the earth colours of the painter's palette are out there in the many miles of badlands.


Quote: Sometimes I start in a very realistic fashion, and as I go on from one painting to another of the same kind, it becomes simplified until it can be nothing but abstraction. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

Sometimes I start in a very realistic fashion, and as I go on from one painting to another of the same kind, it becomes simplified until it can be nothing but abstraction.


Quote: The painting is like a thread that runs through all the reasons for all the other things that make one's life. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

The painting is like a thread that runs through all the reasons for all the other things that make one's life.


Quote: I know I am unreasonable about people but there are so many wonderful people whom I can't take the time to know. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

I know I am unreasonable about people but there are so many wonderful people whom I can't take the time to know.


Quote: When I think of death, I only regret that I will not be able to see this beautiful country anymore unless the Indians are right and my spirit will walk here after I'm gone. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

When I think of death, I only regret that I will not be able to see this beautiful country anymore unless the Indians are right and my spirit will walk here after I'm gone.


Quote: Before I put brush to canvas, I question, 'Is this mine? ...Is it influenced by some idea which I have acquired from some man? ...I am trying with all my skill to do a painting that is all of women, as well as all of me. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

Before I put brush to canvas, I question, 'Is this mine? ...Is it influenced by some idea which I have acquired from some man? ...I am trying with all my skill to do a painting that is all of women, as well as all of me.


Quote: Did you ever have something to say and feel as if the whole side of the wall wouldn't be big enough to say it on, and then sit down on the floor and try to get it onto a sheet of charcoal paper? by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

Did you ever have something to say and feel as if the whole side of the wall wouldn't be big enough to say it on, and then sit down on the floor and try to get it onto a sheet of charcoal paper?


Quote: Nothing is less real than realism. Details are confusing. It is only by selection, by elimination, by emphasis, that we get at the real meaning of things. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

Nothing is less real than realism. Details are confusing. It is only by selection, by elimination, by emphasis, that we get at the real meaning of things.


Quote: His letters ... have been like fine cold water when you are terribly thirsty. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

His letters ... have been like fine cold water when you are terribly thirsty.


Quote: There's something about black. You feel hidden away in it. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

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


Quote: The men liked to put me down as the best woman painter. I think I'm one of the best painters. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

The men liked to put me down as the best woman painter. I think I'm one of the best painters.


Quote: We feared the heartlessness of human beings, all of whom are born blind, few of whom ever learn to see. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

We feared the heartlessness of human beings, all of whom are born blind, few of whom ever learn to see.


Quote: I am not an exponent of expressionism. I don't know exactly what that means, but I don't like the sound of it. I dislike cults and isms. I want to paint in terms of my own thinking and feeling. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

I am not an exponent of expressionism. I don't know exactly what that means, but I don't like the sound of it. I dislike cults and isms. I want to paint in terms of my own thinking and feeling.


Quote: We'd make love. Afterwards he would take photographs of me. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

We'd make love. Afterwards he would take photographs of me.


Quote: Interest is the most important thing in life; happiness is temporary, but interest is continuous. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

Interest is the most important thing in life; happiness is temporary, but interest is continuous.


Quote: 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. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

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.


Quote: I have lived on a razors edge. So what if you fall off. I'd rather be doing something I wanted to do. I'd walk it again. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

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


Quote: I took back a barrel of bones to New York. They were my symbols of the desert, but nothing more. I haven't seen enough to think of any other symbolism. The skulls were there and I could say something with them. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

I took back a barrel of bones to New York. They were my symbols of the desert, but nothing more. I haven't seen enough to think of any other symbolism. The skulls were there and I could say something with them.


Quote: Someone else's vision will never be as good as your own vision of your self. Live and die with it 'cause in the end it's all you have. Lose it and you lose yourself and everything else. I should have listened to myself. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

Someone else's vision will never be as good as your own vision of your self. Live and die with it 'cause in the end it's all you have. Lose it and you lose yourself and everything else. I should have listened to myself.


Quote: Slits in nothingness are not very easy to paint. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

Slits in nothingness are not very easy to paint.


Quote: 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. Interest is the most important thing in life; happiness is temporary, but interest is continuous. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

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. Interest is the most important thing in life; happiness is temporary, but interest is continuous.


Quote: The unexplainable thing in nature that makes me feel the world is big fat beyond my understanding -- to understand maybe by trying to put it into form. To find the feeling of infinity on the horizon line or just over the next hill. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

The unexplainable thing in nature that makes me feel the world is big fat beyond my understanding -- to understand maybe by trying to put it into form. To find the feeling of infinity on the horizon line or just over the next hill.


Quote: I can't live where I want to, I can't go where I want to go, I can't do what I want to, I can't even say what I want to. I decided I was a very stupid fool not to at least paint as I wanted to. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

I can't live where I want to, I can't go where I want to go, I can't do what I want to, I can't even say what I want to. I decided I was a very stupid fool not to at least paint as I wanted to.


Quote: Making your unknown known is the important thing -- and keeping the unknown always beyond you -- catching -- crystalizing your simpler clearer vision of life -- only to see it turn stale compared to what you vaguely feel ahead -- that you must always keep working to grasp. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of Georgia O'Keeffe quote; white text on black background

Making your unknown known is the important thing -- and keeping the unknown always beyond you -- catching -- crystalizing your simpler clearer vision of life -- only to see it turn stale compared to what you vaguely feel ahead -- that you must always keep working to grasp.




Quote: Art is a wicked thing. It is what we are. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

Art is a wicked thing. It is what we are.


Quote: One works because I suppose it is the most interesting thing one knows to do. The days one works are the best days. On the other days one is hurrying through the other things one imagines one has to do to keep one's life going. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

One works because I suppose it is the most interesting thing one knows to do. The days one works are the best days. On the other days one is hurrying through the other things one imagines one has to do to keep one's life going.


Quote: I want real things ... music that makes holes in the sky. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

I want real things ... music that makes holes in the sky.




Quote: It's not enough to be nice in life. You've got to have nerve. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

It's not enough to be nice in life. You've got to have nerve.




Quote: My center does not come from my mind -- it feels in me like a plot of warm moist well tilled earth with the sun shining hot on it... It seems I would rather feel starkly empty than let any thing be planted that cannot be tended to the fullest possibility of its growth. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of Georgia O'Keeffe quote; white text on black background

My center does not come from my mind -- it feels in me like a plot of warm moist well tilled earth with the sun shining hot on it... It seems I would rather feel starkly empty than let any thing be planted that cannot be tended to the fullest possibility of its growth.


Quote: There is something so perfect about the mountains and the lake and the trees... sometimes I want to tear it all to pieces. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

There is something so perfect about the mountains and the lake and the trees... sometimes I want to tear it all to pieces.


Quote: A week ago it was the mountains I thought the most wonderful, and today it's the plains. I guess it's the feeling of bigness in both that carries me away. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

A week ago it was the mountains I thought the most wonderful, and today it's the plains. I guess it's the feeling of bigness in both that carries me away.


Quote: Singing has always seemed to me the most perfect means of expression. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

Singing has always seemed to me the most perfect means of expression.

Longer Version/[Notes]:

Singing has always seemed to me the most perfect means of expression. It is so spontaneous. And after singing, I think the violin. Since I cannot sing, I paint.


Quote: I always have a curious sort of feeling about some of my things -- I hate to show them -- I am perfectly inconsistent about it -- I am afraid people won't understand -- and I hope they won't -- and am afraid they will. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

I always have a curious sort of feeling about some of my things -- I hate to show them -- I am perfectly inconsistent about it -- I am afraid people won't understand -- and I hope they won't -- and am afraid they will.


Quote: The simple fact of yourself... there it is... just you... no excitement about it... a very simple fact... the only thing you have... keep it as clear as you can. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

The simple fact of yourself... there it is... just you... no excitement about it... a very simple fact... the only thing you have... keep it as clear as you can.


Quote: If you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it's your world for a moment. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

If you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it's your world for a moment.


Quote: Marks on paper are free -- free speech -- press -- pictures all go together I suppose. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

Marks on paper are free -- free speech -- press -- pictures all go together I suppose.


Quote: I believe I would rather have Stieglitz like something -- anything I had done -- than anyone else I know. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

I believe I would rather have Stieglitz like something -- anything I had done -- than anyone else I know.


Quote: I feel there is something unexplored about woman that only a woman can explore. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

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


Quote: 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. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

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.


Quote: 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. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

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.


Quote: I know now that most people are so closely concerned with themselves that they are not aware of their own individuality, I can see myself, and it has helped me to say what I want to say in paint. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

I know now that most people are so closely concerned with themselves that they are not aware of their own individuality, I can see myself, and it has helped me to say what I want to say in paint.


Quote: I had to create an equivalent for what I felt about what I was looking at -- not copy it. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

I had to create an equivalent for what I felt about what I was looking at -- not copy it.


Quote: I often lay on that bench looking up into the tree, past the trunk and up into the branches. It was particularly fine at night with the stars above the tree. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

I often lay on that bench looking up into the tree, past the trunk and up into the branches. It was particularly fine at night with the stars above the tree.


Quote: The days you work are the best days. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

The days you work are the best days.


Quote: You get whatever accomplishment you are willing to declare. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

You get whatever accomplishment you are willing to declare.


Quote: 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. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

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.


Quote: Anyone who doesn't feel the crosses simply doesn't get that country. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

Anyone who doesn't feel the crosses simply doesn't get that country.


Quote: I decided that if I could paint that flower in a huge scale, you could not ignore its beauty. by author Georgia O'Keeffe overlaid on photo of photo of author Georgia O'Keeffe with quote

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


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