...The book takes as its subject the two years from 1916 to 1918 that O’Keeffe spent working as head of the art department at West Texas State College, often painting at the Palo Duo Canyon in her free time. The watercolor studies produced in this period, of both the landscape she found herself in and of her own nude figure, are at once delicate and powerful, calling on a tradition of working in the medium that began when O’Keeffe was studying.
As a small child she was taught to paint by a local watercolor artist in her hometown of Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. Later, in 1908, on a visit to New York, she stopped in at an exhibition of Rodin’s watercolors at Midtown gallery 291, a space owned by Alfred Stieglitz, the man who was later to become her husband and great artistic collaborator. This period from 1916-18 was a key one in terms of her creative development. “These years mark a period of radical innovation for the artist, during which she firmly established her commitment to abstraction,” Radius explains. “O’Keeffe’s watercolors explore the texture and landscape of the Texas desert and the artist’s own body in an exceptionally fragile and sensitive medium, representing a substantial achievement in their own right.”