Georgia in Hawaii: When Georgia O'Keeffe Painted What She Pleased

Overview

Georgia O’Keeffe’s Hawaiian tour celebrates natural beauty and powerful artistic convictions.

Georgia O’Keeffe was famous for painting exactly what she wanted, whether flowers or skulls. Who would ever dare to tell her what to paint? The Hawaiian Pineapple Company tried. Luckily for them, Georgia fell in love with Hawaii. There she painted the beloved green islands, vibrant flowers, feathered fishhooks, and the blue, blue sea. But did she paint what the pineapple company wanted...

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Overview

Georgia O’Keeffe’s Hawaiian tour celebrates natural beauty and powerful artistic convictions.

Georgia O’Keeffe was famous for painting exactly what she wanted, whether flowers or skulls. Who would ever dare to tell her what to paint? The Hawaiian Pineapple Company tried. Luckily for them, Georgia fell in love with Hawaii. There she painted the beloved green islands, vibrant flowers, feathered fishhooks, and the blue, blue sea. But did she paint what the pineapple company wanted most of all? Amy Novesky’s lyrical telling of this little-known story and Yuyi Morales’s gorgeous paintings perfectly capture Georgia’s strong artistic spirit. The book includes an author’s note, illustrator’s note, bibliography, map of the islands, and endpapers that identify Georgia’s favorite Hawaiian flowers.

A 2012 Boston Globe-Horn Nonfiction Honor Book

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
While most people associate Georgia O’Keeffe with the landscape of the American Southwest, this picture book explores the time she spent in Hawaii. Commissioned by the Hawaiian Pineapple Company to paint two works that “promote the delights of pineapple juice,” O’Keeffe quickly struck out on her own, traveling throughout the Hawaiian islands. “She painted a nana honua that she’d picked by the side of the road. It reminded Georgia of her favorite desert flower, the jimsonweed.” Morales’s milky acrylic and digital artwork positions the spirited artist against the glowing colors of Hawaii’s lush tropics. O’Keeffe had created more than a dozen paintings by the time she returned home to New York City—but none of them are of a pineapple, so “They were not happy. They wanted a pineapple! Georgia was not happy either. She was not going to be told what to paint.” A rich and unexpected depiction of a treasured artist. Agent: Caryn Wiseman, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Illustrator’s agent: Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency. Ages 6–9. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
"An appealing and slightly humorous portrayal of O'Keefe's artistic vision and determination, along with a peek at the Hawaii of over half a century ago...accessible, unfussy and visually charming."—Kirkus

"A rich and unexpected depiction of a treasured artist."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

Children's Literature - Susan Thomas
The leadership of the Hawaiian Pineapple Company admired the paintings of Georgia O'Keefe. In 1939, they asked her to visit Hawaii and complete two paintings of pineapple to promote their product. This is the story of her three month visit there. Georgia wanted to stay near the pineapple fields to study the plants, but the company refused her request. In turn, she stubbornly refused to paint the already picked pineapple that they gave her. She then proceeded to travel through the islands, painting many of the unusual shapes and flowers that she saw. On returning to her studio in New York she had twenty paintings of Hawaiian flora, but no pineapple ones. After realizing, perhaps with a little guilt, that she had benefited from this opportunity to travel, she created the painting the company requested. The paintings of Georgia O'Keefe are inspirational in their dramatic composition and color. One of the best-known female artists of the twentieth century, she was no doubt successful because of her independent, stubborn nature. However, this snapshot biography doesn't provide enough information about her life and work to be useful to an elementary audience. Reviewer: Susan Thomas
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4—O'Keeffe spent three months touring Hawaii in 1939 as a guest of the Hawaiian Pineapple Company (which later became Dole). In return, she was to produce two paintings to promote her sponsor's juice. The trouble started when the company refused the artist's request to live near the fields (only laborers did that), instead presenting her with a pineapple to reproduce. How the two sides moved from offending one another to reconciliation is the central conflict in this lush, carefully researched book. Novesky's selection of salient details of the relationship and the journey allows the text to be brief while providing fascinating tidbits for readers and a fertile ground for Morales's imaginative acrylic and digital compositions, many of which were inspired by O'Keeffe's abstract art as well as her famous flowers, skyscrapers, and streetlights. Cool, green rainforest settings contrast with brilliant, fuchsia skies in which the protagonist is framed by larger-than-life philodendron, hibiscus, and plumeria. Flowers are identified on the endpapers. Photographs of the commissions would have been helpful, but author and illustrator notes are provided. This title fits beautifully between a portrait of the artist as a young woman in Jen Bryant's Georgia's Bones (Eerdmans, 2005) and as an older one in Kathryn Lasky's Georgia Rises (Farrar, 2009).—Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
An appealing and slightly humorous portrayal of O'Keeffe's artistic vision and determination, along with a peek at the Hawaii of over half a century ago. During her several-weeks sojourn in the Hawaii Territory in 1939, Georgia O'Keeffe painted some of her most lovely work. Though it was the Hawaiian (later Dole) Pineapple Company that underwrote her trip in exchange for a painting of a pineapple, O'Keeffe refused to paint the picked fruit the company offered. She did not actually paint a pineapple until she returned to New York, and readers may be able to find her pineapple painting hiding in the pages. But, as Novesky tells here, O'Keeffe discovered flowers, landscapes and Hawaiian feathered fishhooks that captured her artist's eye. Morales' luscious full-page illustrations--digitally assembled edge-to-edge acrylic paintings--seem to glow softly in scenes filled with rich colors and that create an intimate relationship between the figure of Georgia and her surroundings. Labeled illustrations of nine different Hawaiian blossoms cover the endpapers. In one striking spread, a canvas close up shows Georgia's just-painted waterfall, with a feathered lure and a shell hanging from the corners, while just beyond Georgia, a striking black lava formation reaches into the ocean. Morales captures Georgia's intelligent and occasionally formidable look; she also captures what O'Keeffe saw, gracefully echoing, not reproducing, O'Keeffe's work. Accessible, unfussy and visually charming. (author's and illustrator's notes; sources) (Picture book/biography. 6-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780152054205
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 3/20/2012
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 596,793
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Lexile: 890L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.20 (w) x 11.60 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Amy Novesky  is the author of Elephant Prince: The Story of Ganesh, illustrated by Belgin K. Wedman; and Me, Frida, illustrated by David Diaz. HMH will publish her picture book about Billie Holiday in fall 2012. Before she began writing for children, she worked as a children's book editor for Chronicle Books. She lives in Northern California with her family.

Yuyi Morales  is an award-winning picture book illustrator. Her recent books include My Abuelita by Tony Johnston and the upcoming Ladder to the Moon by Maya Seotoro-Ng (Obama's half-sister). She's won the Pura Belpre medal for illustration three times, as well as two honors for illustration and one honor for narrative.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 14, 2012

    Highly recommended

    The illustrations are vibrant and appropriate. We especially enjoyed the illustrators comments about her selection of images and her family's participation.

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