Happy Birthday Georgia O’Keeffe

To my muse, Georgia

Georgia O’Keeffe was born on November 15th, 1887 on a farm near Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. She has been an inspiration to me all of my life, with her love of nature and her subject matter that included the hauntingly beautiful landscapes of New Mexico, and the animal bones she found there.  So, in her honor, I created this lesson plan below, based on a class I taught recently at a local arts center.  I hope you enjoy it. It includes a video tutorial and a downloadable PDF lesson plan with links to inspirational resources for learning more about Georgia O’Keeffe’s unique approach to life and her art.

I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for” – Georgia O’Keeffe

Georgia O’Keeffe Lesson Plan

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.


Download the Georgia O’Keeffe Lesson Plan 

Sun-bleached bones were most wonderful against the blue – that blue that will always be there as it is now after all man’s destruction is finished.
–Georgia O’Keeffe


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!

I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do. – Georgia O’Keeffe


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.


Georgia O’Keeffe by Dennis Brack



Cow’s Skull: Red, White, and Blue, 1931 Georgia O’Keeffe

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.


Watch the 4 minute video demonstration above 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.



Student Artwork

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 Lesson Plan.

2. Arrange your art supplies and work space.

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.


Download my Georgia O’Keeffe Lesson Plan for more resources including books and movies about Georgia O’Keeffe, plus art supplies and more inspiration.

Nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small it takes time – we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.  – Georgia O’Keeffe