Georgia O’Keeffe 1887-1986

O’Keeffe has popped up many times in my MFA studies so it’s about time I did a post on this artist who greatly inspires me, not just with her paintings but her quotes also. She is most famous for her paintings of flowers of which she painted around 200 of them. Beautiful close ups of petals and blooms, some vibrantly coloured and others in more muted tones but they are all so beautiful and sensual.

O’Keeffe developed her own personal style when she veered away from realism, which was how she was taught, and started experimenting with abstract compositions. Dow’s principles that she studied at the University of Virginia, were pivotal in O’Keeffe’s development as an artist. She helped develop the American Modernism movement.

Any suggestion that O’Keefe’s paintings of flora being a metaphor for female genitalia were denied by the artist, the fact remains that flowers by their own nature do resemble the labia and clitoris in many instances, especially at such a close birds eye view. Whether intentionally or subconsciously, there is no denying that the resemblance is unequivocal. After all isn’t the labia referred to as petals and losing our virginity as being ‘deflowered’? And the stamen in some instances are extremely phallic!

However you want to look at it, her work it is truly breathtaking. Like me, O’Keeffe enjoyed sunrises and sunsets and developed a fondness for intense and nocturnal colours. Oh how I love the darkness – Bats, spiders, spirits, the moon and stars and death are all subject matter for my art. I also use art to express myself, painting my feelings and emotions onto the canvas. I never sketch my paintings prior but use Procreate to configure my subjects and decide on layout though the painting will often take a different path once I start. O’Keeffe never sketched and also painted her emotions, We really do have so much in common and why she resonates with me extremely.

Flowers for me represent beauty, fragility and sensuality. Often they are similar to the female and male genitalia. They are symbols of life and death, love and femininity. Their delicate petals and heady scents are divine and a true testament to mother nature’s glory. And yet again their blooms are a reminder of our mortality as they only last days, a mere week before they wilt and die.

While I don’t have the inclination or patience to paint large sensuous flowers, I photograph them constantly as they are an enormous inspiration. Their beautiful colours and petals that open up like a woman, beckoning to the bees to enter for their honey conjure sexual delights. And as an ornament in my paintings of women I can think of nothing more appropriate or complimentary.

Through all my travels they are a reminder of the beauty of where I’ve been. My home in Bali with frangipani‘s absolutely everywhere to springtime in Paris and the wildflowers in the countryside. My walks at home in Australia with our divine native flora especially wattle, kangaroo paw and beautiful gums, springtime really is my favourite!

O’Keeffe’s 1932 painting Jimson Weed sold for $44,405,000 in 2014, more than three times the previous world auction record for any female artist. Wow how’s that for a record! It’s a shame it takes the death of an artist for their work to escalate in value.  The Georgia O’keeffe Museum was established in Santa Fe after her death at the age of 98.

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