Arts Everyday Living: Georgia O’Keeffe in My Garden—The Art of Summer Lilies

Click on the watercolor and photographs to enlarge or enhance them.




 The modest Rose puts forth a thorn,

The humble sheep a threat’ning horn:

While the Lily white shall in love delight,

Nor a thorn nor a threat stain her beauty bright.

                                                                                                                                                                   William Blake*


Anders Zorn: White Lillies

Anders Zorn, White Lilies, n.d., watercolor, Private Collection

I wonder if Swedish artist Anders Zorn (1860-1920) actually picked these ethereal lilies he depicted so delicately in the watercolor above. Unfortunately, White Lilies is the only floral still life I can currently find among his extensive collection of works.  Zorn made his fortune painting notable people instead. During his lifetime, he was considered American portrait painter John Singer Sargent’s rival; his artistic services were sought by both monarchs  and U.S. presidents.

This summer I decided to grow my own lilies.  I’ve alway been an appreciator of the results of others’ gardening skills, but for the last few months I tried planting a variety of seeds and bulbs, from sunflowers to zinnias to columbines which are now slowly blossoming in my backyard.

However, my $2.99  “Fragrant Lilies” (as advertised) bloomed almost immediately.  So I took my camera and photographed their glorious, if temporary, presence in my backyard.  Influenced by both the  vivid images and words of  of supreme flower guru Georgia O’Keeffe. For she wrote:

…..Still–in a way–nobody sees a flower–really–it is so small–we haven’t time–and to to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.  If I could paint the flower exactly as I see it no one would see what I see because I would paint it small like the flower is small.

So I said to myself–I’ll paint what I see–what the flower is to me but i’ll paint it big and they will be surprised into taking time to look at it–I will make even the busy New Yorkers take time to see what I see of flowers.**


So here’s my mini-gallery dedicated to O’Keeffe and the many other artists who have helped me see the world through their eyes.


Lilies are spectacular at any time of day.




 Though I prefer them in late evening,



on the edge of the night.



Perfection in the darkness.



Yet, how quickly my lilies change.



*The Lily is by British artist William Blake (1757-1827), whose spiritually inspired paintings, engravings and poems are still pertinent in the 21st century.

**Quote is from Georgia O’Keeffe by Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986), The Viking Press/Penguin Books, New York, 1976.


For more on Anders Zorn, click:

Reveil or An Awakening in Paris

And enjoy O’Keeffe’s other works:

 A Walk in the Woods


The above images are used solely for educational purposes.







































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