O'Keeffe was highly gifted in the use of charcoal and this medium would dominate much of her early work. Technically, she was at a very high level and those knowledgeable on such things could quickly spot her potential, eventually allowing her the freedom and opportunity to make the most of her career. Initially a teacher, she was well grounded in technique, but it was her innovative work that followed in oils which really attracted the public and helped establish her as a major figure within American art. No. 12 Special features wave-like flourishes, perhaps three in total, which reach up vertically towards the top of the composition. Initial inspection suggests these are an abstract formation of a lively seascape and nature itself became a key part of her oeuvre.
This artwork measures 24 x 19" (61 x 48.3 cm), and most of the artist's drawings were produced in charcoal or pencil. It would be some years before she started to work within the genres for which she would become most famous and it was actually her charcoal drawings that alerted several artists as to the potential that she could deliver. She worked as a teacher for many years and would move several times around the country, taking in new spheres of influence for her work each time. Abstraction was an important element of the artist's work from the very early days, and it was more the forms that she depicted that changed. It was necessary to find the right person to promote her highly contemporary style and this person was gallerist Alfred Stieglitz.
She was an artist who remained stubbornly committed to her own ideas and even launched a furious protect when discovering that her work had been put on display without her knowledge. Despite this deception, the gallery run by Alfred Stieglitz would ultimately play a crucial role in bringing her work to the attention of the masses as well as some notable figures who understood the potential that she held. This would ultimately be the start of a flourishing and successful career, underlining how fate and fortune can sometimes be essential ingredients in life. Today she is regarded as one of the most famous female artists of all time and her reputation is just as strong today as ever.