- Learning about Georgia O’Keeffe and her flower paintings
- Working in Georgia O'Keeffe's style
- Increasing awareness by painting an object larger than life
outline, awareness, larger than life
For more information about Georgia O'Keeffe, visit http://www.okeeffemuseum.org/her-life.aspx.
Most every year there is a Georgia O'Keeffe wall calendar for sale that has examples of her flower paintings to share with the children.
The Life of Georgia O’Keeffe
Best known for her flower paintings, Georgia O’Keeffe often used striking viewpoints to draw attention to her subject matter. She painted her flowers so large that they had to be noticed and seen in a new way.
O'Keeffe was born in 1887 in Wisconsin, the second of seven children. She grew up on a large farm close to nature. As a child, she had a rebellious temperament and found school dull and constricting. By age ten, she had already decided that she would grow up to be an artist.
After studying art in both Chicago and New York, O'Keeffe spent several years teaching in an elementary school and later in a college. In the early 1920's, she stopped teaching and moved to New York to marry Alfred Steiglitz, a well known photographer. In the busy city, she felt that people did not take time to appreciate the small wonders of nature. To draw their attention and force them to look more carefully, she painted flowers larger than life, often filling the complete canvas with a single flower.
After her husband died, O'Keeffe moved to New Mexico and painted the nature she loved so much. She was ninety-eight years old when she died in 1986.
- Colored construction paper (approximately 10 x 14-inches)
- Tempera paints
- Paint brushes
- Containers of water to rinse brushes between colors
- Sponges to dry brushes after rinsing.
- Cut flowers with simple shapes, such as Gerbera Daisy, Anemone, Alstroemeria, Sunflower, Daisy, etc. Plan one flower for every two children.
- Vases, glasses or bottles to hold the flowers upright
- Examples of Georgia O’Keeffe’s flower paintings
- Become familiar with the life and works of Georgia O’Keeffe.
- Gather examples of her flower paintings.
- Set out paints, brushes, containers of water, sponges, and construction paper.
- Set out one cut flower in a vase for every two children.
- Display as many examples of O’Keeffe’s flower paintings as possible. As the children look closely, tell them about her life and her work. Explain that making something larger than life catches our attention and causes us to look at it more closely. Just as Georgia O’Keeffe did, the children will paint single flowers which will fill up their whole paper.
- Ask the children to look carefully at the parts of the flowers. Point out the simple shape of an individual petal and how that shape is repeated over and over. Look closely at the center of the flower and its different textures. Talk about the variety of colors on each flower.
- Using pencils, have the children draw the basic outline or outer edge of their flowers on their paper. Encourage them to draw their outlines so big that they touch or even go off the edge of the paper. Because the pencil lines will be covered by paint, they should wait to add the flower's details.
- Have the children begin their flower paintings, looking very closely at the variety of colors on the petals and in the center of the flowers. When the paintings of the flowers are completed, the children should choose a color to fill the background. To avoid covering over their flowers when they paint in the backgrounds, suggest that the children leave a little space around the flowers' edges unpainted. The little bit of construction paper showing through will set off the flower nicely and keep some charming paintings from disappearing into the background.
- Live flowers are more inspiring than artificial ones and create a wonderful feeling of awe. Choose simple flowers with interesting colors.
- Be sure the children look carefully at the flowers and their parts before starting to draw or paint. Point out the simplicity of the flowers, which are actually made up of a few shapes, repeated over and over.
- It's important that the children have a clear view of the flowers they are painting. If possible, plan no more than two children to work with each flower.
- Do the flowers fill up the whole paper as in Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings?
- Do you think you will notice flowers more now that you have painted one?
- Do you think you might see more inside a flower the next time you look at one?
- This flower looks much too hard to paint.
- It’s hard to paint something bigger than it really is.
- Do I have to paint all the petals on this flower?
- The middle of my flower is full of yellow fuzzy stuff.
- Why do I need to paint the background? I like the color of my construction paper.
- It’s easier to paint your flower if you look carefully at each of its parts.
- To make sure the flower is big enough, think about making its petals touch or even go off the edges of the paper.
- Be sure to include in your painting all the parts of the flower that you see.
- If your flower has lots of petals, you can decide how many you want to paint.
- Your construction paper is nice, but your painting will be more complete if the whole surface has a layer of paint.
- Be careful not to hide your flower when you paint the background color. It helps to leave a little unpainted space around the outside edge of your flower.