This is the fourth post in my Artist Study with Kids series. I’ve shared with you our Henri Matisse “painting with scissors” collage project, our Siona Delaunay paintings, and our Alexander Calder sculptures. Today I am presenting you with our flower paintings inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe, made by kids ages 4-8. I just love the observations skills used. It makes me admire these sweet, little paintings even more!
Georgia O’Keeffe was one of the most original American painters, famous for her large format flower paintings. Known for her fierce independence and her unique artistic vision, she painted throughout most of the 20th century, spanning virtually the entire history of modern art in America. She died at the age of 98 in her home in New Mexico, where she was endlessly inspired by the rugged terrain. I used to have a giant poster in my dorm room at art school of her poppy painting. She has always been one of those inspirational female artists that I love more each time I read about her.
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~ Paper (I used white sulphite paper cut into 9″ x 9″ squares, or you can use watercolor paper)
~ liquid watercolors (this link is for a set, but you can buy them individually)
~ Flowers (poppies would be ideal, but lilies would work too)
As I had done for the other artists we studied, I wrote out some key words about Georgia O’Keeffe and printed out some of her most famous paintings so that we could have a small discussion about who she was, when she lived, and what her style was all about.
Since I couldn’t find any real poppies, which would have been ideal, I made some paper flowers with crepe paper and wire. One more reason to love Pinterest! I literally searched at 10pm and found an easy tutorial, and I was lucky enough to have the supplies (advantage of being an art teacher!).
We talked about how Georgia O’Keeffe would draw her flowers so big that they went off the page. This part was the most challenging for them, it felt unnatural to draw incomplete petals. But it was such a great learning experience. I actually saw one of the kids, later on in the week, drawing something that went off the edge. I sort of think she did this because the seed had been planted that this was even possible! It’s what I love about studying artists. The kids learn about new techniques, and for a brief moment they see things differently, and through the eyes of an artist.
Although I really encouraged the use of black, only one child used it prominently in their painting. I feel like I could have done a better job with getting them to use it somehow. I have some teacher skills to work on myself. I’m learning every day.
Here is a great Children’s book about Georgia O’Keeffe, one that I read to my class:
Let me know if you try this with your kids, I’d love to see how it turns out!
Hey, thank you for this great idea for an art lessons for kids. Georgia Okeeffe is inspirational and I love her work.
The kids I teach usually over use black in their paintings. If I will encourage it today, I am afraid I will see black flowers at the end of the class. 🙂
try letting them use a black sharpie instead of black paint, that way it will stay more controlled.
Love this! I am going to do this with my grands. Did you draw the flower with a pencil or did the children draw it? These kids are really talented. Thanks for sharing.
oh that’s great, I love that you will do this with your grandchildren! with the kids, I showed them on a separate piece of paper how to draw big petals that went off the page, but i didn’t draw their flowers. they drew and painted them all by themselves. good luck! xo bar
Some how I have developed an artist study curriculum that seems to be shadowing the very same artists you have studied with your classes. I just finished teaching Alexander Calder last week and this week it’s all about O’Keefe. We are creating giant flowers as well. Because the children are ages 18 months-4 years I am using more collage techniques and building structures that “go off the page” rather than asking the children to create their own shapes. If I had more time in the session I think I would love to explore having them make the shape of the flower. I was thinking about how your students shied away from the black paint. I don’t know if adding a different type of tool to apply the paint would entice them to try it. Like an additional or last step to their art? I have had success introducing it as a detail to art with the ends of skewers or with cut-tips for the very young. Thin brushes might do the trick for older children. Thanks for the inspiration as always!
Hi Julia! So interesting that you and I did/are doing the same artists. Somehow we must be drawn to those in particular for children. I LOVE your giant poppies!! Just left a comment on you IG feed. Collage is such a great medium for that age group. And thank you for the sage advice about introducing black. Boys have not problem with black, but the girls usually avoid it. I love you idea of using a different tool, that is really good. I will definitely try that next time. Thanks for leaving a comment, Julia!! xo Bar
I did this today with my secondary art class here in Brighton in the UK. They loved it. I think your blog is inspirational and exciting. I hope you don’t mind me pinching an idea or two….would you like to see the pictures? Kindest Ruth xx
hi Ruth, I would LOVE to see the pictures!! I am thrilled that you did this artist study. you can send them to me at email@example.com. thank you!! xo Bar
Hi! I’m wondering if it would be possible to use regular water colors for this project. Is there a special reason for the liquid water colors? I can’t wait to do this project with my daughter. Thank you for the wonderful idea.
yes of course! regular watercolors is totally fine. we just used liquid just to change it up in art class. let me know how this project goes with your daughter! xo Bar
Thank you for your response. I will!
Looking for refreshing ideas for teaching art to my pre-k students.
I am wondering if I could include this link in a newsletter for my Kindergarten class. We are currently learning and exploring at home because of school closures due to Covid 19. Many thanks.
hi Rachel, yes of course! Thank you! xx Bar
Hi, I’ve been following your site and love the ideas. I’ve done quite a few of your projects with my own 4 children as well as the KG class I teach. I’d love to start an out of school art club in my home. How do you decide on the age groups of the children you teach? Do you have separate classes for different age groups and do you permit parents to stay with younger children? Would love your advice!
hi Sarah, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’d be happy to lend advice. Thanks! xx Bar