Georgia O’Keeffe Quotes
1. It’s not enough to be nice in life. You’ve got to have nerve.
2. I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing that I wanted to do.
3. 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.
4. I have already settled it for myself so flattery and criticism go down the same drain and I am quite free.
5. Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing–and keeping the unknown always beyond you.
6. If you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for a moment.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way… things I had no words for.
10. To create one’s world in any of the arts takes courage.
11. I wish people were all trees and I think I could enjoy them then.
12. I have things in my head that are not like what anyone taught me — shapes and ideas so near to me, so natural to my way of being and thinking.
13. To create one’s own world takes courage.
14. My first memory is of light — the brightness of light — light all around.
15. 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.
16. I decided to accept as true my own thinking.
17. You are one of my nicest thoughts.
18. I’m frightened all the time. But I never let it stop me. Never!
19. 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.
20. 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.
21. 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.
22. I made you take time to look at what I saw and when you took time to really notice my flower, you hung all your associations with flowers on my flower and you write about my flower as if I think and see what you think and see—and I don’t.
23. 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.
24. When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment.
25. 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.
26. The morning is the best time, there are no people around. My pleasant disposition likes the world with nobody in it.
27. One cannot 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.
28. I often painted fragments of things because it seemed to make my statement as well as or better than the whole could.
29. I found I could say things with colour and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way- things I had no words for.
30. I said to myself ‘I have things in my head that are not like what anyone has taught me–shapes and idea so near to my– 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.
31. Anyone with any degree of mental toughness ought to be able to exist without the things they like most for a few months at least.
32. I feel there is something unexplored about woman that only a woman can explore.
33. 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.
34. 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 color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way– things I had no words for.
35. I got half-a-dozen paintings from that shattered plate.
36. When I look over the photographs Stieglitz took of me-some of them more than sixty years ago-I wonder who that person is. It is as if in my one life I have lived many lives. If the person in the photographs were living in this world today, she would be quite a different person-but it doesn’t matter-Stieglitz photographed her then.
37. I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.
38. I wish so much to go that I almost wish I had never been there.
39. It is only by selection, by elimination, and by emphasis that we get at the real meaning of things.
40. You paint from your subject, not what you see…I rarely paint anything I don’t know very well. It was surprising to me to see how many people separate the objective from the abstract. 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 a tree. It is lines and colors put together so that they say something. For me that is the very basis of painting. The abstraction is often the most definite form for the intangible thing in myself that I can only clarify in paint.
41. I do not like the idea of happyness — it is too momentary — I would say that I was always busy and interested in something — interest has more meaning to me than the idea of happyness.
42. You get whatever accomplishment you are willing to declare.
43. The skulls were there and I could say something with them. To me they are as beautiful as anything I know. To me they are strangely more living than the animals walking around — hair, eyes and all, with the tails switching. The bones seem to cut sharply to the center of something that is keenly alive on the desert even though it is vast and empty and untouchable– and knows no kindness with all its beauty.
44. I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.
45. I’m getting to like you so tremendously that it sometimes scares me.
46. I made you take time to look at what I saw and when you took time to really notice my flower you hung all your associations with flowers on my flower and you write about my flower as if I think and see what you think and see–and I don’t.
47. I seem to be hunting for something of myself out there — something in myself that will give me a symbol for all this — a symbol for the sense of life I get out here
48. Come quickly. You mustn’t miss the dawn. It will never be just like this again.
49. I am divided between my man and a life with him—and some thing of the outdoors—of your world—that is in my blood—and that I know I will never get rid of— I have to get along with my divided self the best way I can
50. To see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.
51. Each time I leave here [Ghost Ranch] it is like a Death, and each time that I return it is a Birth.
52. This [Ghost Ranch] is my kind of world. The kind of things one sees in cities . . . well, you know, it’s better to look out the window at the sage.
53. Frieda was very special,” O’Keeffe recalls. “I can remember very clearly the first time I ever saw her, standing in a doorway, with her hair all frizzed out, wearing a cheap red calico dress that looked as though she’d just wiped out the frying pan with it. She was not thin, and not young, but there was something radiant and wonderful about her.
54. My friend Doris Bry says now that I’ve ruined her spelling because I misspell with such confidence.
55. I never did learn to spell. My friend Doris Bry says now that I’ve ruined her spelling because I misspell with such confidence.
56. I realised that I had things in my head not like what I had been taught —not like what I had seen —shapes and ideas so familiar to me that it hadn’t occurred to me to put them down. I decided to stop painting, to put away everything I had done, and to start to say the things that were my own. This was one of the best times in my life. There was no one around to look at what I was doing — no one interested — no one to say anything about it one way or another. I was alone and singularly free, working on my own, unknown — no one to satisfy but myself.
57. Living out here has just meant happiness. Sometimes I think I’m half-mad with love for this place.
58. Someone else’s vision will never be as good as you own vision of yourself. Live and die with it, because in the end, that’s all you have. Lose it and lose yourself and everything else.
59. As one chooses between the country and the human being, the country becomes much more wonderful.
60. 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.