Lessons from Georgia O’Keeffe's Art and Life
We will be guided by the approach Georgia O'Keeffe (GOK) learned from her most influential teacher to “fill a space in a beautiful way,” as we focus on shape, color, and line. But you will develop your own creative expression. This course provides an affirming artistic experience for the novice. It is also open to experienced artists who want to try something new and learn about O’Keeffe, her life, and her art.
• Aug. 9: Includes introductions, illustrated talk about O'Keeffe approach and philosophy, an “O’Keeffe exercise” experimenting with composition
• Aug. 16: Color lesson illustrated by GOK's art, complete last week's composition exercise in color, learn about and try GOK's serial approach
• Aug. 23: Another presentation about how GOK worked and further exercises
• Possible 4th week session on Aug. 30 for concluding presentations and celebration
This schedule is subject to change.
• Scissors, Glue Stick, Pencil
• 20 small pieces of paper cut to 1/4 of the size you intent to be working normally (e.g., 9x12-inch art requires 4.5x6-inch small sheets). You can use computer paper for this.
• 6 pieces of colored paper cut into same size as described above; this can be construction paper or magazine pages; at least two colors, contrasting colors preferred
• Small sketch pad or unlined tablet
ART SUPPLIES: If you already own art materials that you like (paint, colored pencils, etc.), use those. Otherwise, purchase materials for this class. Here are pastel supplies as an example:
• Pad of 9x12-inch paper for pastel/charcoal drawing, light-colored paper
• Pastels, set of 12 or more
• General's Tri-Tip Eraser (for charcoal, graphite, and pastel chalk)
• Paint brush, a flat-bristle brush, with nylon bristles, 1/4 or 1/2 inch wide
• Blending stump (buy some or twist a paper towel to use)
This course is designed for beginners. But it is open to experienced artists wanting a fresh approach. Novices will learn the most while enjoying a supportive atmosphere. Advanced artists will try exercises and get information that will help them understand O'Keeffe and her art.
About Instructor Anna Koster
I served as artist O’Keeffe’s weekend companion in 1976, then went on to earn an MFA degree and enjoy a long museum career. Since retiring as Head of Communications at Stanford’s Cantor Arts Center, I have been teaching art at O’Keeffe’s beloved Ghost Ranch in New Mexico (now an education center), the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, and other venues.
See my resume at annakoster.com/resume. Join the conversation at our Facebook group Lessons from Georgia O'Keeffe's Art, Life, Landscape.
More About This Course
I am offering these online sessions as a precursor to the course for Stanford University's Continuing Studies Program in the winter. The description for that course is below:
This course offers an opportunity to learn about the principles that guided the famous artist and use them to create your own unique works. We start with an illustrated lecture explaining the precepts that O’Keeffe followed in her goal to “fill a space in a beautiful way.” A hands-on exploration—inspired by an exercise from O’Keeffe herself—initiates our studio work and helps each student get in touch with their own innate artistic guide.
Lessons and exercises, like those that influenced O’Keeffe, focus on compositional elements of shape, color, line. Lectures illustrated by O’Keeffe’s art include color theory, O’Keeffe’s personal story, and her step-by-step approach before setting brush to canvas. The instructor promises to share life lessons she absorbed through her experience with O’Keeffe long ago.
This course is designed for beginners and focuses on composition, concepts, and principles, with less attention to technique. Emphasis on formal elements spotlights O’Keeffe’s lifelong use of abstraction. All sessions include time for making art. Participants will be encouraged to continue experimenting between classes and given preparation assignments, but little formal homework.
Students must provide their own supplies; the cost of the supplies will depend on students’ individual preferences. This course has no prerequisites or required readings.
Photos: top photo by Amy Hulse, O'Keeffe's pastels on view at MoMA, Anna Koster at Cantor Arts Center