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O’Keeffe’s Organic Shapes

Study the many organic shapes of flowers through the eyes of Georgia O’Keeffe. Create a drawing inspired by local plant life, your observations and her work.

  • Grade 3
    Grade 4
    Grade 5
  • 60 to 90 Minutes
  • Directions

    1. During a study of the regions of the United States, invite students to investigate well-known American artists from the various regions. For example, Georgia O’Keeffe was born in Wisconsin, a state in the mid-western region of the United States. Direct students to O'Keeffe's paintings of flowers. What types of lines and shapes are represented in these paintings? How do organic shapes differ from the shapes of man-made items? Discuss the differences. Allow time for students to investigate O'Keeffe's work further using teacher-approved Internet resources.
    2. Georgia O'Keeffe said, "If you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment." What does O'Keeffe mean by this statement? Take a walk around the school grounds to look at flowers and plants. Students sketch different shapes of petals and leaves observed on a piece of paper.
    3. On a piece of construction paper students use a crayon to sketch some organic shapes. Use loose, overlapping strokes to build-up the shapes in your drawing to create a flower. Refer to personal sketches, live plants or O’Keeffe’s work for inspiration.
    4. Flowers and plants have multi-tonal color variations. Create unique colors to reflect the beauty of natural objects by gently overlaying light coats of crayon on top of each other.
    5. Once artwork is complete, ask students to write a summary paragraph explaining how their work reflects their learning about the artist Georgia O'Keeffe and her style of painting.
    6. Display artwork, accompanied by student writing, on a classroom bulletin board for easy viewing.
  • Standards

    LA: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

    LA: Integrate information from several texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.

    LA: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Report on a topic or text, tell a story, or recount an experience with appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details, speaking clearly at an understandable pace.

    SS: Describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in a particular culture.

    SS: Use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools to generate, manipulate, and interpret information.

    SS: Identify and describe ways family, groups, and community influence the individual's daily life and personal choices.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.

    VA: Select and use the qualities of structures and functions of art to improve communication of ideas.

    VA: Identify specific works of art as belonging to particular cultures, times, and places.

  • Adaptations

    Possible classroom resources include: Georgia O'Keeffe by Mike Venezia; My Name Is Georgia: A Portrait by Jeanette Winter; Georgia in Hawaii: When Georgia O'Keeffe Painted What She Pleased by Amy Novesky; How Georgia Became O'Keeffe: Lessons on the Art of Living by Karen Karbo

    Prior to entering into this lesson plan, have students look at O'Keeffe's work from Georgia O'Keeffe Museum Collections by Barbara Buhler Lynes. Discuss the different styles of art that spanned her lifetime.

    O'Keeffe spent a large portion of her life in New Mexico. Study her art from this period in her life. How does the art produced during this time differ from the art she created while living in New York?

    In small groups, have students participate in a virtual field trip to Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, located at Learn about her life, are, and browse the exhibits online.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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