By the 1930s, O'Keeffe was dividing her time between New York and New Mexico, returning east only a few times a year to visit Stieglitz and Lake George. Retreating to her home outside Santa Fe, O'Keeffe moved away from abstract art toward more representational painting. This new direction generated her most iconic and familiar work: the paintings of skulls, flowers, and mesas of the southwest.
Around the same time, Dove and his wife, Helen Torr, docked their sailboat for good, moving to Dove's hometown of Geneva, New York, and later, to Long Island. Feeling the need to reinvigorate his art, Dove started working intensely in watercolor, taking inspiration from O'Keeffe's early experiments with the medium. He continued to work in a variety of other media, reducing natural forms and subjects into increasingly abstract compositions.
Even as their interests and styles began to diverge, Dove and O'Keeffe remained in friendly contact through Stieglitz and continued to appreciate each other's achievements for the remainder of their lives. O'Keeffe kept several of Dove's works at her southwest home, while Dove hung one of her paintings in the cabin of the Mona during his sailing years.
After the deaths of Stieglitz and Dove, both in 1946, O'Keeffe permanently settled in New Mexico. While her fame continued to rise for the rest of her long life, she never forgot the influence of Dove. O'Keeffe often credited her friend with helping her discover her artistic voice. She praised Dove as "the only American painter who is of the earth. . . . Where I come from the earth means everything. Life depends on it. You pick it up and feel it in your hands."