• supporting creativity in the classroom and beyond •

• supporting creativity in the classroom and beyond •

Saturday, June 2, 2012

flowers and landscapes inspired by georgia o'keefe

Last week of school.... subbing in a friend's third grade classroom... I want to do some art but not a real formal lesson.... so I decide to show some flowers and landscapes by American artist Georgia O'Keefe and then basically let the students choose which they want to do.

They were pretty intrigued by O'Keefe's work, which precipitated several comments. I followed up the O'Keefe examples with several close-up photos of flowers and several photos of various landscapes, then did a quick demonstration of drawing a quick, light pencil sketch of a landscape and another of a close-up flower. For the landscape, I pointed out how there were several "layers" of mountains, and that trees in the foreground would be larger than trees in the background. That was pretty much it for the lesson. I then transferred one of the sketches to *real* watercolor paper, traced over the pencil lines with crayon, then used a wet-on-wet watercolor technique, focusing on letting colors blend.

I asked students to do two preliminary sketches, one a flower and one a landscape. For these I gave them each one 12x18 sheet of drawing paper. Folded in half, it gave them two "real size" clean surfaces on which to draw the sketches. I gave each student some feedback on each drawing, then asked them to choose which one they wanted to do. Once that was decided, they got a sheet of 9x12 watercolor paper and went to work.

As they worked, I made some suggestions here and there, occasionally spraying their papers with a spritzer water bottle to make them wetter if they were not using enough water (typical for some). Since it was a very hot day (101 in the shade!) a few got spritzed on the head, too.

The whole lesson, from showing the art and photos to finished student products took about two hours. There were no behavior issues during this time, as all students were pretty much engaged right from the beginning.

The results are generally pretty good, although I learned some things which I should know by now. For one, I really need to make a hard and fast rule not to mix orange and violet, since my subtle suggestions ("You really might want to not mix the orange and the violet together") often go largely ignored. Thus, there are a few muddy results, but overall I think they would make a good display. I was happy that landscapes to flower ratio was pretty much 1:1. What was a little disconcerting was that *most* of the flowers were shaped exactly like my example sketch. Note to myself:  Do several models, not just one.