Part 5 Project 2 Inspired by artist

Part 5 Project 2.2 Inspired by an artist /designer

For this part of Project 2 I need to find at least one artist or designer whose work, way of working, application of techniques, handling of materials or use of colour I find particularly inspiring. I need to carry out some research to learn more about the aspects of their work that I find interesting and use this to build a small research file, to include visual and written information and reflection.  I need to reflect on what I can learn from this artist/designer to influence my approach to my own work or way of working.

The first artist I have selected is Georgia O’Keeffe who can be regarded as the first woman modernist painter in USA.  She was born in 1887 in a somewhat affluent family.  Georgia grew up in the midwest of USA and studied art and music as a young girl.  The study of art at that time was to copy work from books.  She was very bright and gifted at Art.  Georgia studies at the Art Institute of Chicago and then the Art Students League School in New York.  Georgia pays her first visit to the ‘291’ Gallery run by Alfred Stieglitz in 1908 to see a still life drawings by Rodin. She later takes classes in 1914-16 with Arthur Dow(a foremost advocate of art and art education) in New York.  Dow was about encouraging his students to go by elements of composition (including looking at line, texture and colour).  This exposure to composition painting was pursued by Georgia and was a huge shift for her.

A friend sends a collection of painting abstracts in charcoal to Alfred Stieglitz in 1916 and he goes on to organise her first solo show which was held in Chicago. She corresponds with Stieglitz extensively.  Georgia decided she needed to listen to what she wanted to say in her work and to let it come out.  She realised she may see ‘differently’ to someone else.  As an artist she wanted to convey what she saw.

She began painting flowers.  These paintings attracted criticism for being sexually orientated.  Georgia denied this and said she liked flowers and saw them as beautiful. She wanted people to see and feel the beauty.  Her paintings were large and closeup of a flower e.g. roses, snapdragons.  Her interest in oil painting grew and she created abstract works especially landscapes and still lifes.

Georgia O'K petunas

Blue Morning Glories, New Mexico 1935

She married Alfred Stieglitz in 1924 and he works assiduously to promote her work organising exhibitions and acting in a type of mentor role to her.  During her life though she is probably more of a mentor to others.  At one point she gives up colour and had to test herself to earn back colour.  At one time during her career she worked with charcoals and pencils only and then she added blue and then another colour this enabled her to change up her practice and how she did things.

She lost her sight later in life but she still paints assisted by an Assistant who loads her brush and directs her to the canvas.  She paints from what she sees in her head.  She dies in 1986.

Her techniques included a simple but saturated colour palette.  Sweeping lines with interesting curves and unusual angles e.g. looking down on a single flower.  She sometimes painted the same subject many times (other Masters also did this) and comments on “Abstraction IX” that ‘she first made(it) with charcoal, then in was painted many times with red, and I finally went back to charcoal.  I even now have another way in my head that I might have done it.’ There is a 60 year gap between the first drawing and this comment. (‘Some Memories of Drawing”, Georgia O’Keefe, 1974, Uni of New Mexico Press).  Interestingly, Georgia used a single media type in each painting e.g. oil only, charcoal, watercolour only.  Another take away from Georgia is to remember that you may see things in a way other people do not.

PLEASE NOTE:  I have continued my study in my Sketchbook

Abstraction Georgia

Abstraction IX 1916 Charcoal 24 5/8 in by 18 7/8 inches

Reference: Georgia O’Keeffe, 1974, ‘Some Memories of Drawings’, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque


Georgia O’Keeffe 2005, Grange Books, Rochester Kent UK

P Jennings and M Ausherman, 2011,’Georgia O’Keeffe’s Hawaii’, Koa Books, Kihei Hawaii

Lynes, Poling-Kempes and Turner, 2004, ‘Georgia O’Keeffe and New Mexico’, Princeton University Press and Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

Harding and Mimmocchi, ‘2016,O’Keeffe, Preston and Cossington Smith Making Moderism’, Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney NSW and Heide Museum of Modern Art, Victoria

B Benke, 2003, ‘Georgia O’Keefe 1887-1986’ Taschen, Germany


Queensland Art Gallery 11 March -11 June 2017 – O’Keeffe, Preston and Cossington Smith – Making Modernism – attended twice April 20 and April 26 2017 – loved it!!



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