Letter to Participants
Beginners: Find Your Inner O’Keeffe and Find Yourself
Course # G200526
I look forward to our days together. You will learn about O’Keeffe and her approach to art, get inspiration from the subjects and landscape that she loved, and create your own works.
Itinerary and Topics Covered (please note that this is subject to change)
Wednesday, May 13 -- Check-in begins at 3:00 p.m. at the Welcome Center. Ranch Orientation at 6:45 p.m. (after dinner); then we meet for introductions and a course overview.
Thursday, May 14 -- 9 a.m.–noon in studio for an “O’Keeffe exercise” experimenting with composition; meet at Welcome Center at 2:45 for 3 p.m. O’Keeffe Landscape Tour (free with course); 7–8:30 p.m. studio session continues
Friday, May 15 — Make bag lunch at breakfast; morning and afternoon we have an off-site trip to O’Keeffe’s “White Place”; evening free (unless there is demand for a session in the studio)
Saturday, May 16 — 9 a.m.–noon complete works in studio or outside, prepare work for display, discuss work; afternoon free; evening all-ranch Celebration
Sunday, May 17 — Clear out room by 10 a.m. (It is OK to stay and hike or relax but must pay for additional meals and arrange overnight housing.)
Materials to Bring
• Glue stick
• Please bring a pair of scissors, if you can (If you fly with only carry-on luggage, you can’t)
• Optional: Small sketch pad and pencils or pens
• If you already own art materials that you like to use (paint, colored pencils, etc.), bring those.
If you DON’T, please purchase materials of your choice for this class. If you have no preference, I suggest:
• A set (20 or more) of water-solubile oil pastels. DickBlick.com sells two brands: Cretacolor AquaStics (20 assorted colors, under $40) and Portfolio brand (student quality, 24 assorted colors, under $10) plus tax and shipping charges.
• Pad of 9x12-inch, 140-pound, hot-press watercolor paper
• Paint brushes, 2 or 3 medium sizes (not very small nor really large), pointed and/or flat
Also Bring comfortable walking shoes, a brimmed hat, sunscreen, clothes for changeable weather (warm/cool, sun/rain), and a water bottle.
Participants need to bring their own basic supplies listed above. I will bring a variety of other materials for experimentation.
All Skill Levels Welcome
This course is ideal for beginners, amateurs, and artists wanting a fresh approach. Novices will learn the most. Advanced artists will experience exercises and get information that will help them understand O'Keeffe and her art.
About the Instructor, Anna Koster
I first taught at Ghost Ranch in the 1970s, then returned in 2014 to lead annual O’Keeffe-related courses. I have also taught at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum (Santa Fe), Palo Alto (CA) Art Center, and San Jose (CA) Museum of Art. I have two art degrees (BA and MFA) and worked at art museums for 35 years, including 15 years at Stanford University’s Cantor Arts Center. See my art and learn about me at my website: www.annakoster.com. My resume is online at annakoster.com/resume. Visit my Facebook page at facebook.com/AnnaKosterArt. Visit our Facebook group “Lessons from Georgia O'Keeffe's Art, Life, Landscape” at facebook.com/groups/GOK.Lessons; you can view posts or join the group and share there.
If you have questions, you can email me through the "Contact" page of this website.
There is no required reading. Past participants have said that they would have appreciated an advance reading list. If you are of like mind, here it is:
• For its accuracy and detail, I like Roxana Robinson's biography Georgia O'Keeffe, first published by Harper & Row in 1989. Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O'Keeffeby Laurie Lisle, from Washington Square Press, is also respected and is easier to read (fewer details).
• If you want to hear what others who worked for O'Keeffe have to say about their experience, you could read Weekends with O'Keeffeby C. S. Merrill, published by La Alameda Press, or Remembering Miss O'Keeffeby Margaret Wood, published by Museum of New Mexico Press. (Carol Merrill briefly mentions me twice in her book.)
• You could visit your local library (or browse online) and view illustrated books of O’Keeffe’s art to get an idea of the range of her work, well beyond flowers and New Mexico landscapes.
• If you have little or no experience drawing, that's perfectly OK. But if you want to get a head start before coming to Ghost Ranch, I suggest visiting your local library for a basic book on drawing for beginners. Avoid books where the authors appear to be showing off their skills rather than giving easy instructions. The only book that looked OK when I visited the store was Drawing Nature for the Absolute Beginner: A Clear & Easy Guide to Drawing Landscapes & Nature by Mark and Mary Willenbrink, published by F&W Publications Inc.
No reading is required. This list is only for those who want to do something extra before or after their week at Ghost Ranch.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: What kind of art supplies should I bring?
Answer: Bring the materials that you already own or that you prefer to use. See the welcome letter for details.
Q: Can I buy art supplies at Ghost Ranch?
A: No, the Ghost Ranch shop does not sell art supplies.
Q: Will we be depicting the same scenes as O’Keeffe and going to places where O’Keeffe painted?
A: Ghost Ranch is the epicenter of the New Mexico landscape that O’Keeffe made famous in her paintings. The subjects of her work surround us at Ghost Ranch. In addition, we will be going off-site to a place she particularly loved: The White Place (as she called it) or Plaza Blanca, as it is more commonly known.
Q: Will we be working outdoors or inside?
A: Although we will frequently work in the studio, there will be ample opportunity to sketch, draw, and paint in the open air. One off-site trip to Plaza Blanca (GOK called it the “White Place”) will be a good opportunity to make studies and sketches to use back in the studio and for taking reference photos. Transportation is provided; the walk from the parking lot to the Plaza Blanca canyon is about half a mile. Evenings will be spent in the art studio, which will be available for use at all hours for those who want to use it.
Q: Will we tour Georgia O’Keeffe’s houses during the week?
A: No, that is not part of our workshop. However, individuals can make plans on their own to visit Georgia O’Keeffe’s Abiquiu house; arrangements can be made at https://www.okeeffemuseum.org/tickets-and-tours/. Both of Georgia O’Keeffe’s houses are owned by the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. If you want to visit, the afternoons of Wednesday and Thursday are open for that or other free-time activities.
Note: Ghost Ranch Foundation and Education Center have no of control Georgia O’Keeffe’s house on the 7 acres carved out from the former dude ranch. That house is called Rancho de los Burros. The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum does not offer public tours of Rancho de los Burros. There is a Georgia O’Keeffe Landscape Tour (by van) that stops on the road by Rancho de los Burros. That landscape tour is included as part of our course on Monday, April 20.
Q: How much time each day will be spent in the workshop? Will there be free time?
A: A typical day will include 4.5 hours of organized activity (morning and evenings), with afternoons free. (One or two days may vary due to special activities; see the welcome letter for an itinerary.) Participants can paint/draw/create in their free time or take advantage of the many activities available at Ghost Ranch, including hiking, horse-back riding, viewing archeology and history exhibits, a variety of tours, and more.
Q: Will we visit the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum as part of the workshop?
A: No. Visiting the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum before (or after) the workshop is recommended if you have the time to do that. It is an hour’s drive to Santa Fe from Ghost Ranch; so if you have a private vehicle with you, it is possible to make an afternoon visit during the workshop. The afternoons of Wednesday and Thursday are open for that or other free-time activities.
Q: Will Anna Koster tell us about Georgia O’Keeffe and share personal stories about her?
A: Yes. In addition to illustrated talks about the famous artist’s life and work, Anna will share personal insights and answer questions about Georgia O’Keeffe.
Q: Can I extend my stay at Ghost Ranch beyond the course?
A: Yes. You can arrange for an additional one- or two-night stay with Ghost Ranch staff: 505-685-1000 or 877-804-4678. If you have your own transportation, you could also stay some hours on the last day of the course after you clear out your room for the 10 am check-out. You’d need to pay for additional meals if you want to eat lunch or dinner at Ghost Ranch on check-out day.
Q: I am flying to New Mexico. How can I get to Ghost Ranch?
A: Most people who fly to NM for Ghost Ranch programs arrive at the Albuquerque airport. Many people use the Sandia Shuttle to go back-and-forth from the Albuquerque airport and Santa Fe: 888-775-5696, http://sandiashuttle.com.
Santa Fe also has an airport on the outskirts of town. Lyft and Uber can provide transportation from the Santa Fe airport into town.
Ghost Ranch (GR) provides limited shuttle service (on the first and last days of class) between Ghost Ranch and the Sage Inn, 725 Cerrillos Rd, Santa Fe, NM 87505. The shuttle cost is $35 one way, $70 round trip (spring 2020 prices). Reservations are needed if you want to use this service: Call GR staffer Gina Maestas at 505-685-1017 to reserve a space and confirm pick-up times. (Spring 2019 info: On the first day of the course, the pick-up time at Sage Inn is 4 pm. On the last day of the course, the van leaves Ghost Ranch at 9 am.) But check with Gina to be sure of times and cost!
If GR shuttle times don't work for you, you can look into the expensive ($150 one-way!) White Buffalo Specialty Shuttle service at http://whitebuffaloshuttle.us. And cars can be rented in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
“My week with Anna was transformative. I took the class because of her background and credentials, however what I received was so much more. Her sincere interest in us as artists, coupled with the majesty of landscape transported me to a place of grounding, confidence and passion for the power of creativity.” – Susan Thompson, high school principal
“I enjoyed Anna’s class tremendously. Her artistic guidance and all of the opportunities that she provided during the class gave all of us a comprehensive experience related to the world of art.” – Jenny Pursell, artist, Juneau, Alaska
“The week at Ghost Ranch was, for me, an extraordinary experience with a truly spiritual dimension; quite unique: the setting, the company, the artistic endeavor all came together to make it very special.” – Alice Godfrey, retired physician, Aptos, California
“Ghost Ranch and your class were amazing. I hope you could tell how much I was enjoying the entire experience. As we all agreed, the people in the class made it even better. The rocks, the sky, the silence – amazing. Even my iPhone photos are spectacular. For many years, I have been fascinated by Georgia O’Keeffe. Beyond her art, I think she led an amazing life and was a real trailblazer. The more I learn about her, the more I want to know. Thank you for helping to fuel my obsession.” – Bobbi Baumgartner, retired from Stanford University