120 Georgia O’Keeffe Quotes on Art, Nature, and More

We all have unique perspectives and beliefs, and these Georgia O’Keeffe quotes will give you insight into her worldview.

Georgia O’Keeffe was a revolutionary American painter and sculptor.

She was best known for her large paintings of flowers and landscapes.

Her artworks usually revolved around what she experienced in her day-to-day life.

If you love painting, the arts, and creativity, then this collection is perfect for you.

Learn more about how to express yourself and understand how you can be creative in your way.

See the complete list here.

And make sure to read these Bob Ross quotes and Leonardo da Vinci quotes.

Best Georgia O’Keeffe Quotes

1. “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.”

2. “You get whatever accomplishment you are willing to declare.”

3. “It’s not enough to be nice in life. You’ve got to have nerves.”

4. “I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way—things I had no words for.”

5. “I feel there is something unexplored about women that only a woman can explore.”

6. “Filling a space in a beautiful way—that is what art means to me.”

7. “I often painted fragments of things because it seemed to make my statement as well as or better than the whole could.”

8. “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.”

9. “You paint from your subject, not what you see.”

10. “I’m frightened all the time. But I never let it stop me. Never!”

11. “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.”

12. “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.”

13. “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.”

14. “I decided that if I could paint that flower on a huge scale, you could not ignore its beauty.”

Famous Georgia O’Keeffe Quotes

15. “I wish people were all trees and I think I could enjoy them then.”

16. “I don’t very much enjoy looking at paintings in general. I know too much about them. I took them apart.”

17. “I hate flowers. I paint them because they’re cheaper than models and they don’t move.”

18. “Anyone who doesn’t feel the crosses simply doesn’t get that country.”

19. “A flower touches everyone’s heart.”

20. “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.”

21. “I decided to start anew, to strip away what I had been taught.”

22. “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.”

23. “There’s something about black. You feel hidden away in it.”

24. “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.”

25. “I have already settled it for myself so flattery and criticism go down the same drain and I am quite free.”

26. “The days you work are the best days.”

27. “I had to create an equivalent for what I felt about what I was looking at—not copy it.”

28. “Singing has always seemed to me the most perfect means of expression. It is so spontaneous. And after singing, I think of the violin. Since I cannot sing, I paint.”

29. “The men liked to put me down as the best woman painter. I think I’m one of the best painters.”

Motivational Georgia O’Keeffe Quotes

30. “To create one’s world in any of the arts takes courage.”

31. “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?”

32. “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.”

33. “Interest is the most important thing in life. Happiness is temporary, but interest is continuous.”

34. “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.”

35. “Imagination makes you see all sorts of things.”

36. “Happiness goes like the wind, but what is interesting stays.”

37. “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.”

38. “I decided to accept as true my own thinking.”

39. “The morning is the best time, there are no people around. My pleasant disposition likes the world with nobody in it.”

40. “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.”

41. “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.”

42. “I’ve been afraid every single day of my life, but I’ve gone ahead and done it anyway.”

43. “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.”

44. “The unexplainable thing in nature that makes me feel the world is big, far 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 Quotes About Her Paintings and Works

45. “One can’t paint New York as it is, but rather as it is felt.”

46. “The abstraction is often the most definite form for the intangible thing in myself that I can clarify in paint.”

47. “God told me if I painted that mountain enough, I could have it.”

48. “Slits in nothingness are not very easy to paint.”

49. “My painting is what I have to give back to the world for what the world gives to me.”

50. “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.”

51. “All the earth colors of the painter’s palette are out there in the many miles of badlands.”

52. “I know I cannot paint a flower. I cannot paint the sun on the desert on a bright summer morning. But maybe in terms of paint color, I can convey to you my experience of the flower or the experience that makes the flower of significance to me at that particular time.”

53. “When people read erotic symbols into my painting, they’re really thinking about their own affairs.”

54. “Before I put brush to canvas, I question, ‘Is this mine? Is it influenced by some idea which I have acquired from some man?’”

55. “The painting is like a thread that runs through all the reasons for all the other things that make one’s life.”

56. “I like an empty wall because I can imagine what I like on it.”

57. “I got half-a-dozen paintings from that shattered plate.”

58. “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 tree. It is lines and colors put together so that they may say something.”

59. “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 Quotes on Self-Reflection

60. “You are one of my nicest thoughts.”

61. “I am going to be an artist! I don’t really know where I got my artist idea. I only know that by that time it was definitely settled in my mind.”

62. “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.’”

63. “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.”

64. “I want real things . Music that makes holes in the sky.”

65. “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.”

66. “I’m getting to like you so tremendously that it sometimes scares me.”

67. “I believe I would rather have Stieglitz like something—anything I had done—than anyone else I know.” 

68. “I had it in my head, well, I couldn’t have been 12—that I was going to be a painter.” 

69. “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.”

70. “My first memory is of light—the brightness of light, light all around.”

71. “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.”

72. “So I said to myself, I’ll paint what I see, 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.”

73. “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.”

74. “The skulls were there and I could say something to 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 in the desert even though it is vast and empty and untouchable and knows no kindness with all its beauty.”

Georgia O’Keeffe Quotes Filled With Life Lessons

75. “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.”

76. “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.”

77. “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.”

78. “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?”

79. “One works because I suppose it is the most interesting thing one knows to do. On the other days one is hurrying through the other things one imagines one has to do to keep one’s life going.”

80. “Wise men say it isn’t art! But what of it, if it is children and love in paint?”

81. “My center does not come from my mind. It feels to 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 anything be planted that cannot be tended to the fullest possibility of its growth.”

82. “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.”

83. “I’m glad I want everything in the world—good and bad, bitter and sweet. I want it all.”

84. “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.”

85. “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.”

86. “I like to convey the idea that art is important in everyday life.”

87. “I look at my work and make up my mind about it. After that, neither flattery nor criticism matters to me.”

88. “Art is a wicked thing. It is what we are.”

89. “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 Quotes That Will Tell You About Her Experiences

90. “When I look over the photographs Stieglitz took of me—some of them more than 60 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.”

91. “Schools and things that painters have taught me even keep me from painting as I want to.”

92. “It was all so far away, there was quiet and an untouched feel to the country and I could work as I pleased.”

93. “Come quickly. You mustn’t miss the dawn. It will never be just like this again.”

94. “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.”

95. “Whether the flower or the color is the focus I do not know. I do know the flower is painted large to convey my experience with the flower and what is my experience if it is not the color?”

96. “This is wonderful. No one told me it was like this!”

97. “I get out of 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.”

98. “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.”

99. “I have lived on a razor’s edge. So what if you fall off? I’d rather be doing something I really wanted to do. I’d walk it again.”

100. “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 to me the wideness and wonder of the world as I live in it.”

101. “I decided to stop painting, to put away everything I had done, and to start to say the things that were my own.”

102. “The clean, clear colors 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-colored paintings like the men. I think, just for fun, I will try all low-toned and dreary with the tree beside the door.”

103. “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.”

104. “If one could only reproduce nature, and always with less beauty than the original, why paint at all?”

More Georgia O’Keeffe Quotes You Will Love

105. “One can not 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.”

106. “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 wrote about my flower as if I think and see what you think and see—and I don’t.”

107. “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.”

108. “Marks on paper are free—free speech, press, pictures all go together I suppose.”

109. “I have not worked at all. Nothing seems worth putting down. I seem to have nothing to say—it appalls me but that is the way it is.”

110. “There is something so perfect about the mountains and the lake and the trees, sometimes I want to tear it all to pieces.”

111. “The Piedra Lumbre is the best thing I’ve ever known in New Mexico—the closest thing to God, I guess.”

112. “I have a single track mind. I work on an idea for a long time. It’s like getting acquainted with a person, and I don’t get acquainted easily.”

113. “It seems to be my mission in life to wait on a dog.”

114. “His letters have been like fine cold water when you are terribly thirsty.”

115. “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.”

116. “I find that I have painted my life, things happening in my life—without knowing.”

117. “I see no reason for painting anything that can be put into any other form as well.”

118. “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.”

119. “I am trying with all my skill to do a painting that is all of women, as well as all of me.”

120. “I’d been taught to paint like other people, and I thought, ‘What’s the use?’ I couldn’t do any better than them, or even as well. I was just adding to the brush pile. So I quit.”

In What Ways Do You Express Yourself and Your Feelings?

One way to express yourself is to be creative through art. Creativity has a massive impact on your emotional well-being and state of mind. In fact, it will widen your perspective and will help you connect with your subconscious.

Like Georgia, art was her way to express and connect with herself. At a very young age, she already knew that she wanted to be an artist. 

She changed the world of art by pushing boundaries and sharing her identity and personality with the world. She became an inspiration to those after her to never be ashamed of seeing things differently. Like Georgia O’Keeffe, let’s also not be afraid to try new things that will lead us to be better and more unique versions of ourselves.

Which of these Georgia O’Keeffe quotes inspired you the most? Don’t forget to write them in the comment section below.


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Amy Finn

Hi. I'm Amy, the founder of this blog. I love quotes and enjoy sharing the best ones with you.

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