Grade Level

9-10, 11-12


12-15 classes, 45 minutes


Surface to paint on (this could be canvas, canvas board, canvas paper, gesso covered board- in these examples it was gessoed paper and they did wrinkle a bit), acrylic paint (your budget- your favorite brand of tube acrylics or bottles), acrylic extender (such as Golden Acrylic Retarder, Liquitex Slow-Dri Blending Fluid (or Gel), and Winsor & Newton Artists’ Acrylic Slow Drying Medium), regular medium, variety of brushes, palette paper (or scraps of clear acrylic sheets, or whatever you prefer).



Lesson Objectives

For the Student to:
1) Learn about the life and work of Georgia O’Keefe (close ups of flowers and bones).
2) Learn about how to work with acrylic paint.
3) Learn about how to mix color (particularly how to create dark values with color, avoiding black)
4) Create an abstraction from life with a focus on composition.

Introductory Activity

Students spend a class period looking at Georgia O’Keefes works, focusing on her abstractions (Abstraction White Rose, Pelvis II) from real life. Student are assigned to bring in an objects from nature to abstract in a similar way as O’Keefe. A flower, a piece of coral, driftwood, leaves, etc.
Students spend some time drawing the image in thumbnails. How might they frame the work. Look at how photographers do this!

Lesson Process

Have students use their sketchbooks to practice thumbnails of the objects chosen. Use a viewfinder to zoom in on areas.
Look at the thumbnails critically considering the elements of art and principals of design. With teacher and peer input, students should select a thumbnail to use.
I have students first create a “mini” version in order to practice using acrylic paints and color mixing. As a general rule, I ask students to mix their own colors (avoiding straight tube colors) and avoiding using significant amounts of black (mixing darker colors together will yield a more accurate, and richer dark).
Students then embark on their larger paintings when a successful mock up is complete.
Students should learn how and why to create an underpainting, how to blend, glaze, how to slow down drying time with product of your choice, such as Golden Acrylic Retarder. Student should work from broad areas of color to details.


abstraction, acrylic paint, medium, glazing


Georgia O’Keeffe: Abstraction | Whitney Museum of American Art
35 Abstract Photography Tips and Ideas
Acrylic painting techniques: Expert tips for artists | Creative Bloq

Author & Website/Blog

Supporting Images