Georgia O’Keeffe’s Magnified Flowers

I love Georgia O’Keeffe.  She is probably my favorite artist.  Not only is her artwork beautiful, mesmerizing, and surreal, I have the upmost respect for how she navigated the art world when it was dominated by men.

I’ve done this lesson twice now, and it still kills.  I’ve tweaked it a little more this year and really like the results.  After watching a few videos about Georgia (you can learn about her on BrainPop!), we start learning how to draw flowers.

I focused on a few different flowers (sunflower, tulip, and a “star” shape (think pansy).  I thought this should cover most flowers we would be drawing.  A lot of students wanted to draw a rose.  I tried to steer them away from this because roses are hard to draw.  I also wanted to make sure we stayed away from cartoony flowers, so I stressed odd number of pedals, keeping it loose, and drawing the pedals in different places to start (not side by side).

Thanks to my teaching partner, I was able to provide my students with photographs of flowers. If you get a chance, start collecting calendar pages. Calendar pages are by far the best way to obtain photographs to use for a reference library.  Students spent a couple of classes looking at these flowers, experimenting, and seeing which ones they liked to draw.

Each student was given a large piece of black paper.  They drew their flowers first, then they traced their pencil lines with Elmer’s glue.  The next day we concentrated on blending, using oil pastels for our pedals.  I really concentrated a lot of energy on the color wheel for this project and students had color wheels at their desk for reference.  We looked at analogous colors, our best buddies, in the wheel, for making good color choices for blending.  We also looked at how to blend using the shape of the object.


I wanted to use another medium for the background, just for fun, and chalk seemed like the obvious choice.  This time, I focused on complementary colors to teach the concept of contrast.  Students got to practice blending with chalk and they loved erasing it from their papers.  It was a little liberating for them knowing that if they didn’t like the color, they could just erase it.


The results are beautiful.  The flowers are magnified, filling up the space, and there is a wide variety of them.  So proud of my kiddos.











After students finished, I had them write a reflection about their work.  I got this idea from Cassie Stephens, my art teacher hero:


I loved the responses I got with these cards.  The students reflected on what they learned about the artist, flowers, the color wheel, blending, etc.  It was really eye-opening what they pick up on.  There were motivational messages and surprises in their reflections too:





These all sound like great life lessons!

Author: Sonia Chapman

I am an art teacher, living in the Middle East, following my passion for art, teaching little children about the finer things in life, and loving every bit of it.

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