Georgia O’Keeffe: Art is a Private Act

“I decided to accept as true my own thinking.”
Georgia O’Keeffe

Rejoice

November 15th marked Georgia O’Keeffe’s birthday.  Having just finished reading her biography by Laurie Lisle, I celebrated the day by focusing on colour and flowers as my personal tribute. Georgia O’Keeffe painted out of the need to express herself in the language of colour.  Hesitant to part with her paintings, she embraced each of them as a beloved child.  They emerged from her thoughts, empowered by the strength of her genius. She considered painting to be a private, rather than a public act.

Generally, most seek the good opinion of others to confirm the value of their creative efforts. Even those who exude confidence feel the need for acceptance within their peer group.  Indeed, it is daunting to reveal, never mind showcase, what was generated by imaginative thought.  Creative productivity is a signature of who we are, what we believe and value.  Georgia O’Keeffe spoke the truth – painting is a private act.  Writing, composing, weaving, singing, dancing – all begin in solitude before they become a public reality.

Perhaps we should take Georgia O’Keeffe’s example – view the results of our artistic endeavours as dearly loved children; always valued and cherished, without the need for external approval.

“I decided I was a very stupid fool not to at least paint as I wanted to … I found that I could say things with colour and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way– things I had no words for.” 
Georgia O’Keeffe

17 Comments

  1. Dina

    Dear Rebecca,
    I’ve ordered this biography now and I’m very much looking forward to reading even more about this woman, her work and the men around her. This is a wonderful tribute. Sorry about my much belated response to this fine post. But – I’m just right in time to wish you a happy Valentine’s Day! 🙂 Hope you have a lovely day, my dear.
    Dina xo

    1. Clanmother

      Happy Valentines Day!! This was my Valentine’s Day Quote: “I know of only one duty, and that is to love.” Albert Camus

      I know that you will find Georgia O’Keeffe a fascinating character. She was not an easy person to know, but her single-mindedness with regard to her artistic work is indisputable. She did not have an easy time being accepted in the art world which was, at that time, dominated by men. Art critics brought in Freudian interpretations which she categorically denied. Her life is a “page turner.”

      All the best on this special day!!!

    1. Clanmother

      Thank you so much – there were moments in Georgia O’Keeffe’s biography that I broke down and cried! She understood her role within this finite existence and she did not stray from the pathway.

      “I have already settled it for myself so flattery and criticism go down the same drain and I am quite free.” Georgia O’Keeffe

  2. LaVagabonde

    Good advice. I’m a self-taught writer. In the beginning, I joined an online workshop that had a lot of “real” writers with diplomas. I tried to make myself like them, but was never accepted, or even acknowledged by most of them. It was only when I stepped away and started writing for myself – especially my blog – when I realized that my own way of writing is just fine.

    1. Clanmother

      I agree! I agree!! I agree!!! I smiled when I read that Rudyard Kipling received a rejection letter that told him that he didn’t know how to use the English language. Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone With The Wind” was rejected 38 times. And then there was J.R.R. Tolkien….
      I could go on. The point is, that we must listen to our inner voice and respond to what our intuition tells us. BTW, I look forward to your posts. Your writing challenges as it entertains – a dynamic combination.

      “Always listen to experts. They’ll tell you what can’t be done, and why. Then do it.” Robert A. Heinlein, Time Enough for Love

      1. Clanmother

        You are going to smile at this quote – life is, indeed, a serious business, but I like to think there those who are the plucky comic relief. 🙂 🙂 🙂

        “The most visible creators are those artists whose medium is life itself. The ones who express the inexpressible ~ without brush, hammer, clay, or guitar. They neither paint nor sculpt. Their medium is simply being. Whatever their presence touches has increased life. They see, but don’t have to draw…Because they are the artists of being alive… 🙂
        ― Donna J. Stone (Poet)

  3. Doris

    Beautiful photos, she was a master of her art with attention to detail, I agree with what you are saying here, we artist seek opinions but we must create like children and let go. I needed this today, since I been doing art shows everyone keep telling me what to do what medium to use, but I want to follow my inner voice just like O’Keeffe and have fun I think the process is about that.

    1. Clanmother

      Thank you, my dear friend!!! You have an intuitive inner voice that generates amazing possibilities. Every one of your posts and comments are filled with beauty and generosity. So glad that we are connected!!! 🙂

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