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Red Canna by Georgia O'Keeffe

Red Canna by Georgia O'Keeffe

Georgia O'Keeffe was born near Sun Prairie, Wisconsin 1887. O'Keeffe was a major figure in American art from the 1920s. She received widespread recognition for her technical contributions, as well as for challenging the boundaries of modern American artistic style. She made her home in New Mexico, where she was inspired by the natural beauty of the area. She is chiefly known for paintings of flowers, rocks, shells, animal bones, and landscapes. Her paintings present crisply contoured forms and she often transformed her subject matter into powerful abstract image. She is most famous for her paintings of giant flowers. She wanted people to notice the beauty of the flower. Because they are so small, and sometimes are unnoticed, she decided to paint them big so people would see them, to take a moment to smell the flowers.

Questions to Ask

What is the first thing that you see? This is the focal point. The focal point is what first draws your eye, something that stands out.

Do you think this is an abstract painting or is it a painting or something? Hint — are the shapes in this painting organic or geometric? Organic shapes are found in nature while geometric shapes are man-made.

How would you describe the colors? What specific color names describe the different shades? How would you describe the texture?

How would you describe the mood or feeling of the painting? Does it feel peaceful, exciting, dangerous, or soothing?

Why do you think the artist choose to paint the flower from such a close up view? How would you have felt if it showed the whole flower from a distance?

O'Keeffe spent much of her life in the southwest, specifically New Mexico, whose stunning vistas and stark landscape configurations had inspired her work. What is the temperature in the desert? What kind of plants and animals live in the desert? Do you think this flower came from the desert?

Activities for the Classroom

An additional kid friendly resource at the AHML is "Georgia O'Keeffe" by Mike Venezia.

Can you think of other things that would look very different up close? Form a little frame by holding your hands perpendicular to each other with you thumbs sticking out. Now peer though your frame with one eye at objects around you-your neighbor's ear, part of your shoe, etc. Do you see things differently?

Bring in several different (size, color, texture, etc.) flowers. Ask the students to draw them from the perspective used in this print. Provide vibrant colors, paints, colored pencils, crayon, etc.

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