Art Lesson Plan: Flowers a la O'Keeffe - Watercolors

Torn Paper Collage Portrait

Submitted by: a TeacherArt Exchange list member
Unit: Painting
Project: Flowers a 'La O'Keeffe
Grade: 7th (upper elementary through middle school - See High School Lesson)
Length: 3 class periods
Alternate Lesson: Tempera Painting by Bunki Kramer | Foil tooling Lesson below



Given tools, teacher demonstrations, three class periods, examples, discussion, and visuals, the students will create a watercolor using Georgia O'Keeffe's watercolor paintings as inspiration.



Value - Shape - Space - Color - Rhythm - Emphasis - Unity

Internet Resources:

Georgia O'Keeffe - She loved to roller-skate in an old school gym near her place in the southwest and when she got too old to skate herself, her assistant would carry her on his back and roller skate her around the gym (according to sculptor, Jesus Bautista Morales). Ellen's Place: Georgia O'Keeffe - Personal web site designed by J. Ellen Cotton. Has biography and images. Learn more about Georgia O'Keeffe (Archive) from this page created by Kansas teacher, Woody Duncan. Also see the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum.




Supplies/ Tools/ Equipment

Contour - Viewfinder - One arrangement of flowers per table - Drawing Pencils. - Paper - Grid - Large piece of Watercolor Paper. - Set of Watercolor Paint. - Sable Brushes. - Georgia O'Keeffe reproductions (See below)



Red Canna by Georgia O'Keeffe
Red Hills with White Shell
Poppy, 1927 by Georgia O'Keeffe
Grey Line by Georgia O'Keeffe.



Georgia O'Keeffe. - This star-studded movie is about the artist's life. Celebrated photographer and art impresario Alfred Steiglitz is shocked to learn that the extraordinary drawings he has recently discovered were rendered by a woman. Deciding to display the work of then-unknown artist Georgia O’Keeffe in his gallery without her knowledge, the fiercely private artist orders him to remove the collection.

Georgia O'Keeffe. - This is the documentary of O'Keeffe by Lifetime television.

Great Women Artists: Georgia O'Keefe. - The program provides an in-depth look into her life, and includes numerous examples of her works while examining her style which made her unique in the world of art. This original program also features spectacular imagery and many rare historical photographs.



Georgia O'Keeffe Museum Collections. - Georgia O'Keeffe has been the subject of many fine art books, but this generously designed volume is a standout. Published to mark the tenth anniversary of the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico, it showcases 335 works.

Georgia O'Keeffe and New Mexico: A Sense of Place. - This book catalogues O’Keeffe’s work in side-by-side comparisons of 20 paintings with recent, commissioned, full-color photos of their actual sites, which pinpoint the exact perspective of the paintings.


Motivational Strategies

I introduce O'Keeffe with examples and worksheet.

Demonstrations of procedures

Student Activities/ Procedures:

Warm Up Day One:

The students will be instructed to do five drawings of flowers from the arrangement on their table. They should choose an area that is visually interesting and they should fill their paper.


Warm Up Day Two:

For the students warm-ups they will be instructed to do 5 contour line drawings. (This will help improve their eye hand coordination and improve their drawing skills). Contour Line Drawings are done by not looking at the paper as they draw. They draw as they look at the object. They follow a line with their eye as their hand draws the same line.


Day 1:

Students will be introduced to watercolor painting. They will paint 2 spheres. One using warm colors and one using cool colors. It will be a teacher led demonstration. The students should complete theirs as the teacher completes hers. The students will be told what color to use. They will be directed to show a light source, shading, blending, etc. They should use the techniques they use in the teacher led demonstration to complete their watercolor drawing.


Day 2:

The students will be introduced to Georgia O’Keefe. They will be shown various flower paintings of Georgia O’Keefe and will be directed to observe the non objective qualities of her work. The students will be instructed in the use of viewfinders. They should find a section within their flower and look for the P&E's. They should focus on a section without showing too much of the edge... in fact, maybe not showing the edge at all. They should try to look more for the abstract/non-objective quality than having it remain a "flower" per se.


After they find their view they should use the skills from their warm up to do a contour line drawing of their section of the flower.


After they complete their contour drawing they should transfer this to watercolor paper.


Day 3:

The process for successful watercolor painting, is to avoid the areas to be left white and apply the lightest washes first, gradually working towards darker washes. Try to cover large areas fairly loosely in the early stages of the painting, applying tighter detail towards the end.



  1. Did students show an appreciation and understanding of the work of Georgia O'Keeffe?

  2. Did students focus down on floral arrangement/photograph to make an interesting composition?

  3. Did students effectively use the elements and principles of design?

  4. Did students exhibit craftsmanship in painting?



Alternate Assignment: Georgia O'Keeffe Foil Tooling
Submitted by: Dawn Stienecker, Texas
Grade level: Upper Elementary - Middle School
Time: Three class periods


1 2



Photographs of flowers - real flowers - and silk flowers.. 6" (15 cm) squareNewsprint. - 6" (15 cm) square Tooling Foil. (or any desired size). Masking Tape.- Ball point pens - Clay Modeling Tools. - newspaper pads - Permanent Markers. - Images of Georgia O'Keeffe's floral paintings.



  1. Study photograph of flower (or real flower/silk flower). Focus down on an interesting part. Draw on 6" (15 cm) square of newsprint (or whatever size determined)

  2. Tape drawing to 6" (15 cm) square of tooling foil (Aluminum, Copper Tooling Foil. or brass).

  3. Lay on pad of newspaper (or Foamboard. if available).

  4. Trace over all lines with a ball point pen - Remove drawing from foil.

  5. Tool flower in relief from back side - repoussee.

  6. Turn back over to front side and refine edges of flower.

  7. Add any textural effects desired.

  8. Color with permanent markers.

  9. Frame with Mat board. for gift giving (Dawn used these as a Mother's Day gift)



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