118+ Best Georgia O’Keeffe Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Georgia Totto O’Keeffe was an American artist who has been recognized as the “Mother of American modernism”. She was an American painter, best known for her large-format paintings of natural forms, especially flowers and bones, and for her depictions of New York City skyscrapers and architectural and landscape forms unique to northern New Mexico. Inspirational Georgia O’Keeffe quotes will give you a little empowerment to get you through anything when the going gets tough and help you succeed in every aspect of life.

If you’re searching for inspiring art quotes by famous artists that perfectly capture what you’d like to say or just want to feel inspired yourself, browse through an amazing collection of memorable Vincent Van Gogh quotes, powerful Frida Kahlo quotes, and beautiful Leonardo Da Vinci quotes.

Most Famous Georgia O’Keeffe Quotes

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. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not. – Georgia O’Keeffe

I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for. – Georgia O’Keeffe

I look at my work and make up my mind about it. After that, neither flattery nor criticism matters to me. – Georgia O’Keeffe

I like an empty wall because I can imagine what I like on it. – Georgia O’Keeffe

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. – Georgia O’Keeffe

Since I cannot sing, I paint. – Georgia O’Keeffe

The days you work are the best days. – Georgia O’Keeffe

Sun-bleached bones were most wonderful against the blue – that blue that will always be there as it is now after all man’s destruction is finished. – Georgia O’Keeffe

I have lived on a razors edge. So what if you fall off. I’d rather be doing something I wanted to do. I’d walk it again. – Georgia O’Keeffe

The simple fact of yourself… there it is… just you… no excitement about it… a very simple fact… the only thing you have… keep it as clear as you can. – Georgia O’Keeffe

I want real things … music that makes holes in the sky. – Georgia O’Keeffe

I long ago came to the conclusion that even if I could put down accurately the thing I saw and enjoyed; it would not give the observer the kind of feeling it gave me. I had to create an equivalent for what I felt about what I was looking at-not copy it. – Georgia O’Keeffe

That nervous energy that makes people like you and I want and go after everything in the world – bump our heads on all the hard walls and scratch our hands on all the briars – but it makes living great – doesn’t it – I’m glad I want everything in the world – good and bad – bitter and sweet – I want it all and a lot of it too – Georgia O’Keeffe

There is something so perfect about the mountains and the lake and the trees… sometimes I want to tear it all to pieces. – Georgia O’Keeffe

One day a hummingbird flew in– It fluttered against the window til I got it down where I could reach it with an open umbrella– –When I had it in my hand it was so small I couldn’t believe I had it–but I could feel the intense life–so intense and so tiny– …You were like the humming bird to me… And I am rather inclined to feel that you and I know the best part of one another without spending much time together– –It is not that I fear the knowing– It is that I am at this moment willing to let you be what you are to me–it is beautiful and pure and very intensely alive. – Georgia O’Keeffe

If one could only reproduce nature, and always with less beauty than the original, why paint at all? – Georgia O’Keeffe

I like to convey the idea that art is important in everyday life. – Georgia O’Keeffe

I often painted fragments of things because it seemed to make my statement as well as or better than the whole could. – Georgia O’Keeffe

I know now that most people are so closely concerned with themselves that they are not aware of their own individuality, I can see myself, and it has helped me to say what I want to say in paint. – Georgia O’Keeffe

In the evening I go up in the desert and spend hours watching the sun go down, just enjoying it, and every day I go out and watch it again. I draw some and there is a little painting and so the days go by. – Georgia O’Keeffe

The bones seem to cut sharply to the center of something that is keenly alive on the desert even tho’ it is vast and empty and untouchable… and knows no kindness with all its beauty. – Georgia O’Keeffe

The meaning of a word – to me – is not as exact as the meaning of a color. Colors and shapes make a more definite statement than words. – Georgia O’Keeffe

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. – Georgia O’Keeffe

I realized that were I to paint flowers small, no one would look at them because I was unknown. So I thought I’ll make them big, like the huge buildings going up. People will be startled; they’ll have to look at them – and they did. – Georgia O’Keeffe

When I think of death, I only regret that I will not be able to see this beautiful country anymore unless the Indians are right, and my spirit will walk here after I’m gone. – Georgia O’Keeffe

Dearest – my body is simply crazy with wanting you – If you don’t come tomorrow – I don’t see how I can wait for you – I wonder if your body wants mine the way mine wants yours – the kisses – the hotness – the wetness – all melting together – the being held so tight that it hurts – the strangle and the struggle. – Georgia O’Keeffe

I don’t see why we ever think of what others think of what we do – no matter who they are. Isn’t it enough just to express yourself? – Georgia O’Keeffe

Before I put brush to canvas, I question, ‘Is this mine? …Is it influenced by some idea which I have acquired from some man? …I am trying with all my skill to do a painting that is all of women, as well as all of me. – Georgia O’Keeffe

Artists and religionists are never far apart, they go to the sources of revelation for what they choose to experience and what they report is the degree of their experiences. Intellect wishes to arrange — intuition wishes to accept. – Georgia O’Keeffe

It seems to me very important to the idea of democracy to the country and to the world eventually that all men and women stand equal under the sky. – Georgia O’Keeffe

You are one of my nicest thoughts. – Georgia O’Keeffe

I decided to accept as true my own thinking. – Georgia O’Keeffe

I get out my work and have a show for myself before I have it publicly. I make up my own mind about it-how good or bad or indifferent it is. After that, the critics can write what they please. I have already settled it for myself, so flattery and criticism go down the same drain and I am quite free. – Georgia O’Keeffe

A flower is relatively small… Still in a way-nobody sees a flower-so I said to myself-I’ll paint it big. – Georgia O’Keeffe

To make your unknown known – that’s the important thing. – Georgia O’Keeffe

The painting is like a thread that runs through all the reasons for all the other things that make one’s life. – Georgia O’Keeffe

Color is one of the great things in the world that makes life worth living to me and as I have come to think of painting it is my efforts to create an equivalent with paint color for the world, life as I see it. – Georgia O’Keeffe

Happiness goes like the wind, but what is interesting stays. – Georgia O’Keeffe

Making your unknown known is the important thing – and keeping the unknown always beyond you – catching – crystalizing your simpler clearer vision of life – only to see it turn stale compared to what you vaguely feel ahead – that you must always keep working to grasp. – Georgia O’Keeffe

I do not like the idea of happiness – 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 happiness. – Georgia O’Keeffe

I’m frightened all the time. But I never let it stop me. Never! – Georgia O’Keeffe

You get whatever accomplishment you are willing to declare. – Georgia O’Keeffe

One works because I suppose it is the most interesting thing one knows to do. The days one works are the best days. On the other days one is hurrying through the other things one imagines one has to do to keep one’s life going. – Georgia O’Keeffe

I feel there is something unexplored about woman that only a woman can explore. – Georgia O’Keeffe

The morning is the best time, there are no people around. My pleasant disposition likes the world with nobody in it. – Georgia O’Keeffe

Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing. – Georgia O’Keeffe

The men liked to put me down as the best woman painter. I think I’m one of the best painters. – Georgia O’Keeffe

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. Most people in the city rush around so, they have no time to look at a flower. I want them to see it whether they want to or not. – Georgia O’Keeffe

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. – Georgia O’Keeffe

Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. We haven’t time, and to see takes time – like to have a friend takes time. – Georgia O’Keeffe

If you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for a moment. – Georgia O’Keeffe

I decided that if I could paint that flower in a huge scale, you could not ignore its beauty. – Georgia O’Keeffe

Someone else’s vision will never be as good as your own vision of yourself. 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. – Georgia O’Keeffe

Fill a space in a beautiful way. – Georgia O’Keeffe

Interest is the most important thing in life; happiness is temporary, but interest is continuous. – Georgia O’Keeffe

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. – Georgia O’Keeffe

I decided to start anew-to strip away what I had been taught, to accept as true my own thinking. This was one of the best times of 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 into my own, unknown-no one to satisfy but myself. I began with charcoal and paper and decided not to use any color until it was impossible to do what I wanted to do in black and white. I believe it was June before I needed blue. – Georgia O’Keeffe

Imagination makes you see all sorts of things. – Georgia O’Keeffe

A week ago, it was the mountains I thought the most wonderful, and today it’s the plains. I guess it’s the feeling of bigness in both that carries me away. – Georgia O’Keeffe

I have already settled it for myself, so flattery and criticism go down the same drain and I am quite free. – Georgia O’Keeffe

It’s not enough to be nice in life. You’ve got to have nerve. – Georgia O’Keeffe

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. – Georgia O’Keeffe

So I said to myself-I’ll paint what I see-what the flower is to me but I’ll paint it big and they will be surprised into taking the time to look at it-I will make even busy New Yorkers take time to see what I see of flowers. – Georgia O’Keeffe

When people read erotic symbols into my painting, they’re really thinking about their own affairs. – Georgia O’Keeffe

God told me if I painted that mountain enough, I could have it. – Georgia O’Keeffe

My painting is what I have to give back to the world for what the world gives to me. – Georgia O’Keeffe

It was all so far away – there was quiet and an untouched feel to the country and I could work as I pleased. – Georgia O’Keeffe

I believe I would rather have Stieglitz like something – anything I had done – than anyone else I know. – Georgia O’Keeffe

It was in the 1920s, when nobody had time to reflect, that I saw a still-life painting with a flower that was perfectly exquisite, but so small you really could not appreciate it. – Georgia O’Keeffe

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. – Georgia O’Keeffe

I had to create an equivalent for what I felt about what I was looking at – not copy it. – Georgia O’Keeffe

I don’t very much enjoy looking at paintings in general. I know too much about them. I take them apart. – Georgia O’Keeffe

Anyone who doesn’t feel the crosses simply doesn’t get that country. – Georgia O’Keeffe

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. – Georgia O’Keeffe

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. – Georgia O’Keeffe

One can’t paint New York as it is, but rather as it is felt. – Georgia O’Keeffe

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. – Georgia O’Keeffe

Marks on paper are free – free speech – press – pictures all go together I suppose. – Georgia O’Keeffe

I hate flowers. I only paint them because they’re cheaper than models and they don’t move. – Georgia O’Keeffe

To create one’s own world in any of the arts takes courage. – Georgia O’Keeffe

He was nothing but a tool. … He had no thought, no part in the painting, except that he could do what I told him to do. – Georgia O’Keeffe

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. – Georgia O’Keeffe

On the way I stood a moment looking out across the marshes with tall cattails, a patch of water, more marsh, then the woods with a few birch trees shining white at the edge on beyond. In the darkness it all looked just like I felt. Wet and swampy and gloomy, very gloomy. In the morning I painted it. My memory of it is that it was probably my best painting that summer – Georgia O’Keeffe

I am trying with all my skill to do a painting that is all woman, as well as all of me. – Georgia O’Keeffe

The clean clear colours were in my head. But one day as I looked at the brown burned wood of the Shanty, I thought ‘I can paint one of those dismal-coloured paintings like the men. I think just for fun I will try – all low-toned and dreary with the tree besides the door.’ In my next show, ‘The Shanty’ went up. The men seemed to approve of it. They seemed to think that maybe I was beginning to paint … that was my only low-toned dismal-coloured painting. – Georgia O’Keeffe

We’d make love. Afterwards he would take photographs of me. (On modeling for Alfred Stieglitz) – Georgia O’Keeffe

I’m glad I want everything in the world – good and bad – bitter and sweet – I want it all. – Georgia O’Keeffe

I don’t really know where I got my artists idea. The scraps of what I remember do not explain to me where it came from. I only know that by this time it was definitely settled in my mind. – Georgia O’Keeffe

School and things that painters have taught me even keep me from painting as I want to. I decided I was a very stupid fool not to be at least paint as I wanted to and say what I wanted to when I painted as that seemed to be the only thing I could do that didn’t concern anybody but myself … I found that I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say in any other way things that I had no words for. – Georgia O’Keeffe

We feared the heartlessness of human beings, all of whom are born blind, few of whom ever learn to see. – Georgia O’Keeffe

My first memory is of light — the brightness of light — light all around. – Georgia O’Keeffe

When you get so that you can’t see, you come to it gradually. And if you didn’t come by it gradually, I guess you’d just kill yourself when you couldn’t see. – Georgia O’Keeffe

My center does not come from my mind – it feels in me like a plot of warm moist well tilled earth with the sun shining hot on it… It seems I would rather feel starkly empty than let any thing be planted that cannot be tended to the fullest possibility of its growth… – Georgia O’Keeffe

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. – Georgia O’Keeffe

Sometimes I start in a very realistic fashion, and as I go on from one painting to another of the same kind, it becomes simplified until it can be nothing but abstraction. – Georgia O’Keeffe

I got half-a-dozen paintings from that shattered plate. – Georgia O’Keeffe

Did you ever have something to say and feel as if the whole side of the wall wouldn’t be big enough to say it on, and then sit down on the floor and try to get it onto a sheet of charcoal paper? – Georgia O’Keeffe

I believe an artist is the last person in the world who can afford to be affected. – Georgia O’Keeffe

I never knew [Alfred Stieglitz] to make a trip anywhere to photograph. His eye was in him, and he used it on anything that was nearby. Maybe that way he was always photographing himself. – Georgia O’Keeffe

It always seems to me that so few people live – they just seem to exist, and I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t live always – til we die physically … – Georgia O’Keeffe

I decided I was a very stupid fool not to at least paint as I wanted to. – Georgia O’Keeffe

When I found the beautiful white bones in the desert, I picked them up and took them home too…I have used these things to say what is to me the wideness and wonder of the world as I live in it. – Georgia O’Keeffe

There’s something about black. You feel hidden away in it. – Georgia O’Keeffe

Singing has always seemed to me the most perfect means of expression. – Georgia O’Keeffe

I find that I have painted my life – things happening in my life – without knowing. – Georgia O’Keeffe

Now and then when I get an idea for a picture, I think, how ordinary. Why paint that old rock? Why not go for a walk instead? But then I realize that to someone else it may not seem so ordinary. – Georgia O’Keeffe

It is really so nice here-country-busy-busy with so many different kinds of things-… I must say I feel far away in another world here-… always we go to a new place…the people have a kind of gentleness that isn’t usual on the mainland. – Georgia O’Keeffe

Slits in nothingness are not very easy to paint. – Georgia O’Keeffe

his letters … have been like fine cold water when you are terribly thirsty … – Georgia O’Keeffe

I always have a curious sort of feeling about some of my things – I hate to show them – I am perfectly inconsistent about it – I am afraid people won’t understand – and I hope they won’t – and am afraid they will. – Georgia O’Keeffe

I am not an exponent of expressionism. I don’t know exactly what that means, but I don’t like the sound of it. I dislike cults and isms. I want to paint in terms of my own thinking and feeling. – Georgia O’Keeffe

I don’t know what Art is but I know some things it isn’t when I see them. – Georgia O’Keeffe

I see no reason for painting anything that can be put into any other form as well. – Georgia O’Keeffe

I have painted portraits that to me are almost photographic. I remember hesitating to show the paintings, they looked so real to me. But they have passed into the world as abstractions – no one seeing what they are. – Georgia O’Keeffe

I know I am unreasonable about people but there are so many wonderful people whom I can’t take the time to know. – Georgia O’Keeffe

All the earth colors of the painter’s palette are out there in the many miles of badlands… – Georgia O’Keeffe

If only people were trees… I might like them better. – Georgia O’Keeffe

I took back a barrel of bones to New York. They were my symbols of the desert, but nothing more. I haven’t seen enough to think of any other symbolism. The skulls were there, and I could say something with them. – Georgia O’Keeffe

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