• 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.



neansai said...

So fortunate that they are receiving such good art lessons!

Renee said...

Thanks Nancy. This wasn't one of my greatest lessons, but I did want to give them a little context, inspiration, and a few ideas. They did pretty well, considering. :-)

Anonymous said...

It can often be discerning when they "copy" your model, but over the years I have come to realize this is where some of them are in their learning. Think about what experiences they have had. It is usually so new to them they are sort of lost and they feel comfortable doing what the teacher did -just as children emulate others as they learn and grow. If they finish "early" I'll often ask them to do another "different" one.

Renee said...

Thanks Jan. You are exactly right, so I don't get too wierded out when they copy me, but I do suggest that they change a shape, or move something to the other side, add another something, etc. And I also take my models away after I show them, so at least they have to rely on their memories rather than truly copy.

The Peanut Gallery said...

I am so glad I found your blog! I love it!