In observance of Georgia O’Keeffe’s birthday (born November 15, 1887), I am sharing a lesson inspired by her work in the deserts of the American Southwest.
In this lesson, we will learn a bit about Georgia O’Keeffe, her style, and one of her favorite subjects –bones and skulls, and use this as an inspirational jumping-off point for creating your own chalk pastel drawing of a bone in her style. First, you’ll learn about the artist in a movie, then view some of her work for inspiration, then watch a video tutorial on how one can use chalk pastel to emulate her style. Lastly, you’ll create your own Georgia inspired artwork using your medium and subject of choice. So follow these steps, then check out the additional resources below. Good luck!
1) GETTING TO KNOW GEORGIA
Starting in the 1930’s Georgia began visiting the American southwest where she was inspired to paint the desert landscapes, and the bones she found there.
- Watch this 4 minute YouTube video clip of Georgia talking about her life and work, which focuses on her time in the southwest and how the bones of the desert-inspired decades of her work.
2) VIEW EXAMPLES OF GEORGIA’S WORK FOR INSPIRATION
Georgia collected her first bones in the New Mexico desert in 1930 and brought them back to her home in New York. In 1931 she finished her first painting in this style and titled it Cow’s Skull: Red, White, and Blue.
- View examples of Georgia’s bone and skull paintings on the web or in books such as those available on Amazon.
As you are viewing her work, notice aspects of her style that you can emulate. Her favorite subjects were those found in nature, especially things that most people might not notice or think are pretty – like bones and skeletons, but also tiny flowers, seashells, stones, and leaves. She blended realism with abstraction. She used clean lines and bold areas of color. She often chose to work in a limited palette of analogous colors, either warm or cool, often blended softly into each other. Her bones were often depicted as floating in the sky with a simple landscape in the background.
3) TECHNIQUE DEMONSTRATION
Watch the 4-minute video demonstration below in which I introduce you to Georgia O’Keeffe and then create a chalk pastel drawing of a pelvic bone in the style of Georgia.
In this video, I talk about Georgia O’Keeffe and do a drawing demonstration in which I show you how to emulate one of her most iconic subjects – bones – in chalk pastel. If you’d like to learn more, download my Georgia O’Keeffe Lesson Plan that has more resources for you to duplicate this lesson at home or at school.
4) YOUR TURN TO CREATE
Here are the steps to follow in creating your own Georgia inspired piece.
1. Get inspired by viewing examples of other students work from my Georgia O’Keeffe Lesson Plan
2. Arrange your art supplies and workspace.
3. Use photographs or real bones as your subject matter.
4. You may want to add a flower or two, as Georgia sometimes did.
5. Refer to examples of Georgia’s work but use your own style. Think about what aspects of her style and composition you want to emulate.
6. Do a preliminary sketch of your composition in pencil.
7. Use your medium of choice to create your artwork – I used chalk pastel in my video demo but you might try oil pastels, charcoals, watercolor or acrylic.
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