Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Painting with Markers (Georgia O’Keeffe-inspired Art)

There is something so bold about Georgia O’Keeffe’s paintings. Her larger than life depictions of flowers, desert hills, and animal skulls are simple, yet stunning. To teach my son a little about her phenomenal work and life, we created our own flower art.

First, we read the book My Name is Georgia by Jeanette Winter. Not only does this book share the story of O’Keeffe’s life, but it also has an underlying message that is so important to convey to kids: it’s okay to be different. An excerpt follows.

I did things other people don’t do.
When my sisters wore sashes – I didn’t.
When my sisters wore stockings – I didn’t.
And when my sisters wore braids –
I let my black hair fly.

This “don’t give in to peer pressure” lesson was such an unexpected (and pleasant) surprise; I planned the activity to be all about art, but it was so much richer thanks to Winter’s portrait of Georgia O'Keeffe.

When we finished reading, we embarked on our own kind of flower paintings. Freehand drawing is a bit of a struggle for my son. To keep him from getting frustrated, we used some homemade stencils. (Print the pattern I used here.)

First, I cut a heavyweight piece of acetate paper (like what you’d use on an overhead projector) that I purchased from the copy service department at OfficeMax into fourths. Then I cut petal shapes out of each section of the paper using an Exacto knife.

Next, my son grabbed his thick Crayola markers in “pretty” colors and a piece of paper.

I had him to draw the center of his flower in the middle of the paper, approximately the size of a quarter.

Then I gave him the acetate sheet petal stencils. He positioned his choice of petals next to the flower’s center and used the marker to draw a thick line around the outside edge of the petal, on top of the stencil.

I gave him a stiff-bristled brush, and told him to brush the marker on the stencil in towards the center, picking up the brush after each swipe. 

The color from the marker was swept into the center of the stencil, creating a wonderful texture!!

When done, he picked up the stencil and was amazed at the effect our "painting" technique had created. 
After repositioning the stencil, reapplying the marker, and brushing it in toward the stencil’s center several more times, he had enough petals to complete the flower.

I couldn’t resist and made one too. Aren't they beautiful?


  1. They turned out beautiful! What a fun art lesson!

  2. Very interesting technique! We also enjoyed this book and painted BIG flower. Daughter discovered that it's harder than she thought originally.

  3. What a pretty technique! The flowers look great!

    Thank you for sharing on Kids Get Crafty!


  4. What a fun way to create art. Very nice looking I'd never guess how you made these. I'm going to have to try this.


  5. Love the way these turned out! What a great idea!

  6. These are so pretty! I love the method you used to make them.

    Thank your for linking to Read.Explore.Learn.

  7. These are awesome!! I love every opportunity to involve my kids in an artist study along with creating our own works of art! We read this book long ago when we painted some flowers, but we'll definitely be checking out the book again to try our hand at these! Thanks for the inspiration!!

  8. Beautiful!! What a great method and I am definitely going to check out the book. Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!

  9. Your pictures came out great! Thank you for linking up to A Pinteresting Party.

  10. Those came out beautiful! I love this idea! Thanks for linking up to the Afterschool Blog Hop!

  11. Gorgeous! Thanks so much for sharing on Craft schooling Sunday! I'd love to try it but am just not 100% sure about what you did. You used the same stencil each time? The marker bled under the stencil? You used acetate to help in positioning the petals as you went around? Thanks so much and would be so happy if you'd email me the answers to my questions! If I try it with my kids I of course will give you full credit for the inspiration.