Going beyond abstraction and representational art, O'Keeffe experimented with color and form. Born in Wisconsin, Georgia O'Keeffe discovered the Southwestern landscape in 1912. At the time she was teaching in Amarillo, Texas. She would later buy a ranch in the bare desert of New Mexico. Georgia O´Keeffe spent much of the 1930s, and 1940s on the ranch she acquired. The Southwestern landscape inspired most of her paintings, such as Red Hill and White Shell.
The artist's work often featured natural objects such as shells, flowers, and even animal bones, as central elements. Her art depicts the things or events that caused her, provoked her to create. Through art, Georgia O´Keeffe portrayed ideas, sensations, and situations that she thought could not be expressed in any other way. Her art allows us to connect with what she had seen, experienced or felt; images rooted in authenticity. Georgia O'Keeffe knowingly nurtured her reminiscences of events, giving them new life as art.
Red Hill and White Shell portrays Georgia O'Keeffe's consciousness of the use of the circle and triangle by the famous Russian abstract painter, Wassily Kandinsky as 'something beyond geometry'. Red Hills and White Shell is centred on the hills and canyons around Ghost Ranch. The Ghost Ranch continued to be a very important source of her inspiration. The main interesting feature of the painting is a large white shell which fills the central portion of the painting.
The white shell comes out as oversized compared to the silver yellow sky, the bright red hills, and the similarly bright red clouds that fill the background of the artwork. The shell dominates the painting and is also painted very carefully. The spiral form of the shell starts from what looks like a wide opening then tightens till it disappears. The artist skillfully plays with the white colour so that it resembles a more colourful object. She includes pink, light yellow, bluish grey, and ochre in the shell. The dull white shell is transformed into a more colorful object than it likely was
Different from the white shell, the red hills lying in the background are a broad area of fiery and abstract colour. In terms of colour, the hills seem brighter and more alive than they would be in reality. In terms of scale, the hills are much smaller than they would in reality.
The sky, painted in layers of dull pink, bright yellow, and bluish grey then ending in bright red clouds seem unrealistic in this artwork. The clouds also look redder than the real clouds. The artist might have wanted to depict something deeper than sunset.