Thursday, October 15, 2009

Georgia O'Keefe

Fourth Grade Art Lesson

written by Michelle Smit for Duniway Elementary and adapted with permission for use at George Kelly Elementary by Lynne Millar

Principle: Abstract Art

Concept: A picture can be abstracted by creating an unusual perspective using an exaggerated angle and space.

Objective: To create an abstract chalk drawing of flowers in the style of Georgia O’Keefe choosing angle and space to fill the page.


*One 9 x 12-inch piece of colored construction paper per student

*Colored chalk pastels


*Cotton Swabs

*scratch paper and scissors

*3 flowers or plants each a different shape, size, and color; big tropicals work best

Pre-Class Prep: If possible, bring in some large fresh flowers.


Set up flowers. When setting them up, set one high, one at eye level, and one down low. This will give students the opportunity to choose an angle to study.

Distribute construction paper, chalk pastels, paper, scissors & cotton swabs

Lesson: "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." Georgia O'Keeffe

Show the power point slide presentation and talk about the artist and her work very briefly. (more background information at the end of the lesson) Georgia O’Keeffe knew from the time she was a young girl she wanted to be an artist. Her parents encouraged her interest and gave her lessons. Georgia was one of seven children in the family, and the education of their children was important to her parents. She is famous for her paintings of flowers. She made them very large so they filled the whole canvas. She painted many kinds of flowers. You may have seen her pictures of poppies and irises.

Using the scratch paper, have the children fold it in half, cut out a square in the middle, and unfold to make a “viewfinder” (imagine what a mat for a frame looks like).

Using their viewfinders, have the children look at the flowers you have set up in the room. Explain space and angle: Georgia O’Keefe painted her flowers looking at them very closely, and often the edges bled off the sides of her canvas. This gives the pictures a sense of directness. Have the children look through the frames and fill their entire frame with the flower. This is the drawing they will make. Demonstrate space and angle on the chalkboard (see vocabulary at the end of the lesson for more on space and angle). You do not need to draw well to do this.

When the children understand space and angle, have them begin. They should fill the whole page. You should also demonstrate blending of colors with a cotton swab (fingers also work well).

Instructions for Instructors


Space-The open area in which all objects are located. Space has height, width, and depth.

Shallow Space-A close-up; usually the object becomes abstract.

Medium Space-An object in mid-range.

Deep Space-An object is far away, usually the object can be seen in its setting.

Angle-The viewpoint from which something is observed or considered.

Bird’s Eye View-Looking down at an object.

Eye Level-The object is level with your eyes.

Worm’s Eye View-Looking up at an object.

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