The first seven drawings are from a group that I made in 1915-1916 when I first had the idea that what I had been taught was of little value to me except for the use of my materials as a language—charcoal, pencil, pen and ink, watercolor, pastel and oil. The use of my materials wasn’t a problem for me. But what to say with them? I had been taught to work like others and after careful thinking I decided that I wasn’t going to spend my life doing what had already been done.
I realized that I had things in my head not like what I had been taught—not like what I had seen—shapes and ideas so familiar to me that it hadn’t occurred to me to put them down. I decided to stop painting, to put away everything I had done, and to start to say the things that were my own.
This was one of the best times in 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.
—Georgia O’Keeffe, Some Memories of Drawings (Univ. of New Mexico Press, 1988), edited by Doris Bry, first published as limited edition portfolio in 1974.