The Quotable Nerdy Chick: Mary Cassatt

Mary Cassatt (1844-1926) is one of my favorite artists, not just because of her beautiful paintings, pastels, and prints, but because of her courage to break into the male-dominated French society of artists near the end of the nineteenth century. Cassatt was from a prominent Philadelphia family, but lived much of her adult life in France, where she befriended Edgar Degas. She said of his work, “I used to go and flatten my nose against that  window and absorb all I could of his art…It changed my life. I saw art then as I wanted to see it.” Degas invited her to join the Impressionists and said to her, “Most women paint as though they are trimming hats. Not you.”


From left to right: Portrait of the Artist, 1878; The Letter, 1891, The Child’s Bath, 1892

Mary Cassatt Quotes:

• “I am independent! I can live alone and I love to work.”

• “I think that if you shake the tree, you ought to be around when the fruit falls to pick it up.”

• “There are two ways for a painter: the broad and easy one or the narrow and hard one.”

• “If painting is no longer needed, it seems a pity that some of us are born into the world with such a passion for line and color.”

You can read more about Mary Cassatt at the Metropolitan Museum of Art  and the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

The Quotable Nerdy Chick: Georgia O’Keefe

Photo by Alfred Stieglitz

Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) was the first American woman to really distinguish herself as a modern artist, paving the way for other women. My mother, who is a watercolorist, introduced me to O’Keefe’s work when I was a child. She particularly liked O’Keefe’s large paintings of flowers. I love them too. O’Keeffe, who married photographer and gallery owner Alfred Stieglitz, had an interesting and unusual life and a long career. You can read more about her and see her work at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum site HERE.  She truly used painting as a form of expression, and that is reflected in her quotes below.

Georgia O’Keeffe Quotes 

  • I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.
  • I often painted fragments of things because it seemed to make my statement as well as or better than the whole could.
  • Marks on paper are free – free speech – press – pictures all go together I suppose.
  • Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. We haven’t time, and to see takes time – like to have a friend takes time.
  • I decided that if I could paint that flower in a huge scale, you could not ignore its beauty.
  • I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.
  • One cannot be an American by going about saying that one is an American. It is necessary to feel America, like America, love America and then work.
From what I’ve read about O’Keefe, it is hard to imagine her being terrified, like she mentions in the first quote. But if she was, she certainly a role model for not letting our fears get in the ways of our successes.