Friday, July 19, 2013

Georgia O'Keeffe - Review

Wandering through the library, I stumbled into the oversized section.  When I discovered Georgia O'Keeffe's self-authored description of her own work, I jumped.  In addition to holding gorgeous prints of her own work, this massive (14x10) work offers beautiful insights into the process of art.
A few comments stand out in my memory.
  • After a decade of art training, O'Keeffe decided that she would have to completely breakaway from the art her teachers valued.  Their training had been valuable for the skills - fluency in the vocabulary and grammar of art (paints, brushes, strokes, chalks, etc).  However, to create the art she envisioned in her head, she would have to return to a blank slate and start anew because her teachers' art was encrusted within stale systems within which she didn't fit.
  • She decided to paint huge portraits of single flowers so that people would slow down and actually look at the details of the flowers.  She realized that if she painted the flowers in life-size, a dozen in one frame, then people would simply glance past them just as they normally do.  However, if she magnified a single bud, then people would see the magnificent beauty hidden in plain sight within the details.  My only complaint is that the book had precious few of the these gorgeously magnified flowers.
  • Sometimes, she would only paint one corner of a building, and she felt that by focusing our attention on that particular corner in great detail, she was able to give the viewer a truer sense of the building as a whole.  I see all kinds of parallels here in the world of narrative, in which I usually operate.
This would make a great coffee-table book, but even if one doesn't want to own a copy, it's well worth the trip to the local library.  Looking for a while through O'Keeffe's glasses will enhance your own lenses through which you see our world.

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