In June 2017, I saw the O’Keeffe exhibit at the AGO, in Toronto. It blew my mind. She was never an artist I related to, or was really very familiar with. I always associated her with big flower paintings, that were of very little interest to me. However, when I saw this exhibit, of her vast subjects and materials, I gained a whole new respect for her and her work.
The more I have learned about her over the last three years, the more relatable she becomes, especially her relationship to land/scape and painting. Can you believe I bought this book at the exhibit three years ago, and just yesterday sat down to read it? I had looked at the images many times, but never read the content. I found myself more and more inspired by each essay, letter, and time period.
As I lazily make my way through these early pandemic days, mostly with very little worries as I am privileged enough to stay home safe with my child; I read about this woman artist who lived through the first world war, a 2-year flu pandemic, the Great Depression, and then the second world war… I feel nothing but awe and reverence towards her. Very humbling.
At 53 years old, in 1940, she bought herself a small piece of property in New Mexico. But it wasn’t until her husband passed away six years later that she made it her permanent home. She found a new freedom in her life, she learned to drive, she traveled the world, and she painted.
After finishing the book last night, I pulled out an old acrylic painting I have been stuck on for over a year, and decided to do it over in oils. I’m thinking about the travels I will be able to do once this pandemic has passed, and we are safe to explore the world again. Ghost Ranch is on my radar now. Iceland is still a dream. And I’m thinking a drive through the Northwest Territories to the Yukon would be good for my Canadian Landscapes inspiration.
In the meantime, I will keep working with what I’ve got… books, photographs, and other artists to inspire me. Who inspires you?