Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Georgia (O'Keeffe) on our minds! (Part 1)

Kindergartners continued our more modern Mythology Unit with more trickster tales by Gerald McDermott.   We observed the beautiful illustrations in Coyote:  A Trickster Tale from the American Southwest and discovered that "coyote had a nose for trouble and found it."  This, we noticed was a type of creation story and "explained" why coyotes have a black tip on their tails.  We admired the pastel drawings of the landscape of the southwest plains with its jewel tones, sparse plant life, and looming plateaus.  We also discovered that the illustrator used a lot of symbolism (found in each of his books) that mimicked jewelry and clothing designs you might find in Native American collections.  The gorgeous desert scenes  propelled us into a study of another artist- one who knew the desert of the southwest very well and  often included glimpses of it in her own paintings! 

Georgia O' Keeffe, (American) who was very striking but rarely photographed smiling even as a child, was encouraged artistically by her parents.   Kindergartners speculated why she never smiled in her photos with varying opinions.  We also read that Georgia was always one to pursue her own passions and follow her own mind throughout her life.  O'Keeffe was often offended when she was told that her artwork was good for a woman.  She often wondered why her artwork was not "good" because she was a "good" artist.   We then discussed what it was like to be one of few known female artists in the time that she lived.  
We also read that although O'Keeffe was born in Wisconsin and lived  and studied art in New York City, her heart was drawn to Texas then New Mexico where she eventually made permanent residence and died there at the amazing age of 98 years old.    O'Keeffe is best known for her detailed depictions of the close up images of flowers and animal skulls as her subject matter.  She often painted several pictures per day.  Museums (including the one in New Mexico) house her vast collections all over the world.

Kindergartners began our art lesson probably much like Georgia O'Keeffe would.  They prepared charcoal paper with  shaded tones then sketched out compositions of animal skull  shapes using art erasers.   We rotated between erasers and charcoal to create high and low lights, shading, and detail.  We finished with stained sleeves (and faces), a patina on our table surface, and an amazing collection of drawings marveled by all who see them.   Some of us even practiced our solemn O'Keeffe expressions.    


We later introduced a different medium to our O'Keeffe study-digital photography!  One of Georgia O'Keefe's mentors and eventually husband, Albert Stieglitz, a renown photographer, photographed O'Keefe hundreds of times!     Kindergartners, however,  were given an opportunity to capture close ups of our skulls only three times each!  A special thank you  goes out to Manon's family, Lily and Sean's family, and teacher Elaine for loaning us their specimens.   Three times was all it took!  Amazing!

Please visit our Kindergarten O'Keefe Collection and SK Art & Music displays of all grades  on "Reflections Night"

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