Art is one of those things that I always want to do more of in our homeschool but somehow it seems to get pushed to the back burner. I think one reason is my perfectionist tendencies. Ideally I’d love to follow some kind of plan, studying artists by time period or by style or in some kind of logical way. But what that means is we never do it because I never seem to get it planned out. In reality what works for us is to find good books, read them and talk about the artist and their work. It’s kind of haphazard but it works ok for now.
I’m not sure where I heard about Georgia in Hawaii: When Georgia O’Keefe Painted What She Pleased, a newish book by Amy Novesby but it tells about an interesting episode in the life of Georgia O’Keefe when she was invited to Hawaii by The Hawaiian Pineapple Company to paint two paintings for them. O’Keefe was already a well-known artist at this point and the company (which would later become Dole) wanted her to paint a pineapple and provided her with a pineapple picked from the tree. They refused to allow her to go to the pineapple fields to paint in a more natural setting and she became angry. Instead of painting what they wanted she toured the Hawaiian artists, creating beautiful paintings of everything but pineapples.
The story is quirky, and a fun addition to a study on O’Keefe. It’s also a good way to see that she painted more than desert scenes. It definitely gives a particular impression of her personality: strong, independent and slightly stubborn. However, for more of a complete study of the artist you would want to include other books as this one doesn’t really talk much about O’Keefe’s life or show much of the paintings most typical of her style.
We enjoyed several other books to flesh out her life a bit more:
Georgia Rises: A Day in the Life of Georgia O’Keefe by Kathyrn Lasky
My Name is Georgia by Jeanette Winter
Through Georgia’s Eyes by Rachel Victoria Rodriguez
Georgia O’Keefe: Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists by Mike Venezia
We also did an art project to go along with the books. Because O’Keefe is so well known for her flower paintings I chose to have the kids try their hands at something similar. I gave them each a piece of posterboard and instructed them to draw a flower taking up most of the space. We then painted the flowers using liquid watercolors.
Our flower model.
Ruth’s flower painting.
My flower painting.
I don’t have a painting from John because as usual he ended up more interested in “experimenting” with mixing colors. For some reason he was really really determined to figure out a way to get the watercolors to make a dark black. He used a lot of paint and a lot of water and ended up tearing through his posterboard. But he was happy, he sees art as more of a science experiment anyway.
David’s flower painting, which I think turned out really well. The thing I was most impressed with was that he kept doing things that weren’t what he wanted to do but then he’d quickly adapt and figure out how to change it. He thought he was using a red color that ended up being orange, then when he went to wipe it off with a paper towel he smeared it across the page. He decided then that he’d use the paper towel to “paint” the entire background orange and said it was the desert. He then used a brush and different orange and red paint to do the petals.
As we did this project it struck me that in some ways art projects are like science experiments. One of the things I hear homeschoolers say all the time about science experiments is that they don’t like doing them “because they don’t work”. It drives me batty because not working is part of the experiment. If you don’t get the “right” results (meaning the results you expect) part of science is figuring out why. That’s the interesting part for me. I realized though that often I shy away from art projects because “they don’t work”. Meaning that I don’t get the results I expect, or the results that I imagine in my head.
David is our most artistic child and it was interesting to see him do this painting. I think he didn’t mind it not turning out “right” because for him that was when it got fun.
Stop by Hope is the Word for more Read Aloud Thursday.