North American artist, Georgie O’Keeffe, was 99 years old when she died. She was most famous for her love of nature which she consistently combined with her art. Her creative ideas can be easily applied in lessons or home-based activities to inspire children in their artistic endeavours. It’s not necessary to have any kind of formal artistic experience to lead children through the following project ideas and the best thing about them is that adults can join in the fun too.
Georgia O’Keeffe was inspired by many aspects of nature, but particularly shells, flowers and leaves. A simple but fun project for children using just pencil and paper is to represent these objects of nature in large format. Working with huge pieces of paper can be really liberating for children and a real artistic challenge too. Find some interesting shells, collect some fallen leaves from outside, or buy a bunch of flowers for inspiration and share them with the children. Encourage the children to look at the objects from different angles and to then copy that object, covering the whole of their paper, in pencil. Shine a lamp on the object to create light and shade and help the children to shade in the darker areas of their drawing with layers and layers of pencil to generate varying intensities.
Working with colour
Using the same natural resources as inspiration, encourage children to represent the flower, leaf or shell the drew previously in colour. Introduce the children to a wide range of colour materials, including watercolour paints, acrylic paints, crayons, felt-tip pens, ink and coloured pencils. Georgia O’Keeffe focused on capturing minute details in her paintings. Encourage the children to describe their flower, shell or leaf in lots of detail before they begin to put colour on paper. When they eventually start to copy what they see, make sure they are focusing on capturing the details of the object that they noticed during the preparatory period.
Fallen leaves during the autumn can provide wonderful, natural resources for children’s art projects inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe. O’Keeffe created many paintings which featured layers and layers of autumn leaves of varying colours. With some glue, lots of leaves and a large piece of cardboard, children can make their own version of Georgia O’Keeffe’s leaf paintings as a collage. The process can be incredibly positive for children who want to join in with artistic projects but who don’t feel confident when drawing.
The great outdoors
Georgia O’Keeffe spent her entire life combining art with nature. Encourage children to do the same by taking them outside to participate in artistic projects as a group. Take them for a walk in the countryside and let them paint the natural world around them. Spend an afternoon in search of natural objects which can be brought back to the house or the classroom to inspire the artistic projects which will follow indoors. If possible, head out into the natural world at different times of the day. Sunrise or sunset is bound to inspire children in different ways to the kind of experiences they will have when exploring at midday.