Loving Georgia by Jan Ketza

My art relationship with Georgia O'Keeffe started some 40 years ago as an art student in high school. This blog is about the past years and how she has inspired me to paint as a woman artist. This will be an artful journey to hopefully inspire another artist with my many "Lessons from O'Keeffe". This starts when I am just 16, and a sophomore at Morton West High School in Berwyn IL.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Paint to Music...Lesson 3 From O'Keeffe

I believe to become a great artist one must be a great art teacher too. One of the first remarkable lessons I learned from studying Georgia O'Keeffe was a story she wrote about listening to music as she painted. Her story goes as this..."I never took one of Bements's classes at Columbia University, but one day down the hall I heard music from his classroom. Being curious I opened the door and went in. A low-toned record was being played and the students were asked to make a drawing from what they heard. so I sat down and made a drawing, too. Then he played a very different kind of record-a sort of high soprano piece-for another quick drawing. This gave me an idea that I was very interested to follow later-the idea that music could be translated into something for the eye."


I took this lesson and applied it to songs I found that inspired me and when I listened to the music I would get lost in it... In doing this I found myself going into my own world, my first sense of my art zone. The music would play, I would sing out loud and often make up my own words...just lost in the moment of having that paint brush in my hand, unconsciously selecting and making paint colors that pleased me, and the feeling of the brush's sensuality upon my canvas. My art zone is the most beautiful place in the world filled with joy beyond belief. It is my place that in time I have learned to slip into and create.

The paintings I chose for this post are:
"Music-Pink and Blue 1", by Georgia O'Keeffe, 35x29.
"The Color Of Pleasure", by Jan Ketza, 48x72

Lesson 3 from O'Keeffe...Paint to Music

Friday, February 12, 2010

To Be Inspired...Lesson Two From O'Keeffe



I did what my art teacher told me to do...I went home craving to find my way to be an artist. I took that precious book and devoured every word, every image, and every page. I read it over and over again with so many times falling asleep to Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings vivid in my brain...just burned into it. Often I would wake to a sharp corner of that book sticking me in the side. This repetitive action would become the foundation of my art education and build my confidence to begin that first good painting I would create.

I studied Georgia's Landscapes and got lost in the exotic land of New Mexico. Her flowers painted close up brought me sexual awareness and to look at things more close up...to treasure small things in my life. The Bones I sensed history and immortality and with her paintings, painted to music, a sense of joy and artistic freedom that remains within me to this day.

To be inspired with my heart beating with artistic passion was liberating. I was so wound up with ideas it was hard for me to begin with one! So I took this new knowledge and applied it to a paint study in my art class. It began with learning how to build a frame, stretch canvas, prime the canvas, then begin the painting.

I knew what I was going to paint with instinct and began my first good painting at 16. The painting is a landscape with my profile superimposed on top of it. My eyes are closed, my hair is blond flowing in the breeze and I am dreaming of things I love...my family, the earth, my first love, and my dream to be an artist.

Name of the painting is Dreamtime inspired by the landscapes of Georgia O'Keeffe painted in 1973. This painting remains in my studio as a constant reminder of my artist journey with my many lessons from O'Keeffe.

Name of the Book is O'Keeffe, from the Whitney Museum published in 1970. Sky above the Clouds is the painting on the cover and is on exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago. It is big and glorious...And an old friend of mine I visit every time I go there.

Lesson Two From O'Keeffe...To Be Inspired

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Beginning...Lesson 1 from O'Keeffe



As I begin, I closed my eyes for a while to remind myself of that magical day that my art teacher placed a book in my hands about Georgia O'Keeffe. Memories of hip-hugging bell bottoms, Carly Simon's song "Your So Vain", and tying back my long blond hair to keep it out of my paint palette fill my mind.
In my thoughts, I am sad, with the realization of my dream to be an artist for the rest of my life will be one of many sacrifices and financial stress. This is all I ever wanted to be. I have been instructed by my guidance counselor to find something else to do, than to be an artist so I can live better. I am 16, a sophomore at Morton West High School in Berwyn IL, and and art student with an amazing art teacher named Mr. Mounce.

He must have seen the sadness on my face that day in class and pulled me aside to ask what was wrong. I was almost in tears just telling him and added the fact that all the living artist are men and on top of it all are supporting themselves by art. He replied that this was not so...and I asked him to please teach me about the women, so I can have something to hold on to.

He walked to his desk and brought me the book that would change my life...It was a book about Georgia O'Keeffe. I was told to take it home and study it...read every word...memorize every brushstroke...every composition...and believe in myself to be an artist like her.

There are moments in life that take your breath away...Now as I am older, I know this was one of them for me. I just needed to know, that there was one woman out there that could do it...
That I can have the creative life I wanted and I was going to be and ARTIST!

Lesson 1 from O'Keeffe...Believe in yourself to be an Artist.