Part of my reasoning behind doing an afternoon painting course in London was that I could either take advantage of cheaper train fares ( which I did for the first week , going to British Museum for lunch in the members room ) or I could fit in a visit to a gallery in the morning. So last Friday I managed to fit in a visit to Tate Modern to catch the Georgia O'Keeffe exhibition before it closed.
I've always had a soft spot for her flower paintings partly because they weren't the accurate botanical illustrations I was surrounded by but nevertheless showing their essence. Name drop alert : when they were filming 'The Private Life of Plants' in the lab I worked in ( I set up some of the plants they used for time-lapse shots in episode 5 ), David Attenborough had an enormous book of her paintings which they were consulting to work out interesting close-up shots.
But this exhibition revealed so much more. I filled pages in my sketchbook with quick drawings to analyse what in particular interested me about certain paintings and drawings. There's nothing like seeing them in the flesh to see the subtlety of her marks, particularly the quality of line.
Having got all my old sketchbooks, paintings ( mainly watercolours) and drawings out of storage, I've been looking at them with a fresh eye. I've shared a few here , not because they're great paintings but because I realise they have some of the qualities I picked up on in the exhibition and am working on some ideas to take further .
G O'K East River from the Shelton No 6
G O'K Oak Leaves Pink and Grey
In the inspirational classes with Sandra Beccarelli in Brentford, we looked at Georgia O'Keeffe's leaf paintings in interpreting Autumn colour in watercolour ( definitely an exercise I will be repeating soon )
G O'K Blue II
G O'K New York -Night Madison Avenue
I loved these aerial view abstracts, from both early and later years but sharing some of the same characteristics of space, light and line. They remind me a bit of the Peter Lanyon's Glider Paintings ( hardly surprising in the top one which was inspired by flights and the view from planes)
G O'K Drawing III
When I went on painting courses at FSC Nettlecombe in the 1990's , I frequently drew and painted the remnants of trees in the grounds, liking how the twisted and broken branches framed glimpses of the landscape beyond. I don't think I'd seen these tree pieces by Georgia O'Keeffe before but I particularly like how the thickness of the lines vary, almost disappearing into the surroundings with strong, almost dominating use of negative space.
G O'K Autumn Trees- The Maple
G 0'K Clam and Mussel
G O'K Shell no 2When I was sketching mussels on the train going into London, I had no idea that she had painted quite a few shell compositions ! Again it's given me lots of ideas to scale up my sketches.
Tomorrow it's Paul Nash at Tate Britain!