Read On!

Mrs. Farquharson’s musings about books for children and young adults

Georgia O’Keeffe


Flowers, skulls, and desert images are most often the images that one associates with Georgia O’Keeffe. We usually think of the Southwest as the inspiration for much of her work.

In 1939, this gifted artist traveled to Hawaii when the Hawaiian Pineapple Company sponsored her to create two new paintings for them. The company wanted a painting of a pineapple, but Georgia didn’t like being told what to paint. She was inspired by the flora and fauna of the Hawaiian Islands, and she painted nearly twenty works while she was there. The Hawaiian Pineapple Company expressed unhappiness because Georgia gave them paintings of a heliconia flower and a papaya tree. She later capitulated and sent them a painting of a pineapple because she realized that the trip they sponsored had been a rare gift. Georgia in Hawaii: When Georgia O’Keeffe Painted What She Pleased by Amy Novesky, illustrated by Yuyi Morales (Harcourt Children’s Books, 2012) is a beautiful picture book biography that chronicles this special time in O’Keeffe’s life.

For those intermediate and older readers who have admired O’Keeffe’s art, Wideness & Wonder: The Life and Art of Georgia O’Keeffe by Susan Goldman Rubin (Chronicle, 2010) is a charming biography that shares more details of the artist’s life. She began taking drawing lessons when she was eleven years old, and by the time she was in eighth grade, Georgia knew what she was going to do when she grew up – “I am going to be an artist.”

After painting for a number of years, Georgia experimented with the style that is most identified with her, that of a gigantic flower. Thank goodness she didn’t listen to her husband, an artist himself, when he said, “Well, Georgia, I don’t know how you’re going to get away with anything like that – you aren’t planning to show it, are you?”

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