Visual Arts: Georgia O'Keeffe Barns

Lesson Plan: Georgia O’Keeffe Barns
Grade level: 2-5
Duration: Four-1 hour class periods
Media Type: oil pastel
Subject Integration: science
National Standards for Visual Arts: (see bottom of page)
Objectives: Students will create their own artwork with oil pastels after viewing artwork by Georgia O’Keeffe, as well as work by Duluth artist Lisa Stauffer and Neil Sherman.

(website for help with writing rubrics)


4 - Standards are exceeded
3 - Standards are met
2 - Standards may be met at a very low quality or with some exceptions
1 - Standards are not met or work is not attempted or very poorly done


  • Landscape Color
  • Line
  • Shape
  • Texture Contrast Warm colors Cool colors
  • Impressionism
  • Placement
  • Color wheel Blending Rhythm
  • Light vs. dark
  • Shadow
  • “working on location”
  • Plein air: French for “in the open air” Design
  • Subject
  • Value
  • Perspective
  • Focal point

Materials and Procedure:

  • Drawing paper
  • Oil pastels
  • Pencils
  • Visuals of Georgia O’Keeffe’s work
  • Access to Smartboard/computer to show PlayList videos: Lisa Staffer and Neil Sherman, plein air painters

Day 1:
Present work by artist Georgia O’Keeffe, namely her barn series. Georgia is most known for her flower paintings, however, her barn series are less known, but no less beautiful. Discuss Georgia O’Keeffe’s background: Georgia was born in Wisconsin November 15, 1887, and died on March 6, 1986. She lived to be 99 years old! Georgia spent much of her life in New York City, New York and Northern New Mexico. Georgia’s parents were dairy farmers. Georgia was one of seven children, and decided to become an artist when she was ten years old. Discuss barn artwork by Georgia O’Keeffe. (See Discussion Questions below.) Allow students time to process Georgia’s work. Students often see details that
adults do not. Show PlayList videos by Lisa Stauffer and Neil Sherman. Discuss their work. Ask students to discuss the similarities and differences between these two artists and Georgia O’Keeffe’s work. Discuss Plein Air and how it relates to all of these artists.

Pastel Painter Lisa Stauffer (3:13)
Be Present with The PlayList (3:32)
Plein Air Brush-off (26:45)

Day 2:
Review information given about Georgia’s work, and the work of Duluth Plein Air artists. Students receive paper and pencils and start to sketch out and plan their own interpretation of a barn drawing. If possible, students could complete their work outdoors. When student ideas are sketched, they may add color with oil pastels. Teach method of blending/color mixing with pastels. Discuss light and shadow.

Day 3:
Students continue to work on pastel drawings.

Day 4:
Students complete artwork and share with peers. Class takes time to have “mini art show” to share work with others. If time allows, peers give “glows and grows” about peer work. Students share two “glows” (strong parts of artwork) and one “grow” (kind feedback of improvement) for several peers in the room. This can be done by doing a formative assessment format by having students fill out glows and grows on small slips of paper and placing them near the student artwork of their choice.

Discussion Questions:
“What do you see?” “What was Georgia O’Keeffe trying to express in her paintings?” “What was she trying to show you?” “Why do you think Georgia chose these colors?”
“Is Georgia trying to tell a story? If so, what?” “Where do you think Georgia was when she painted these landscapes? How can you tell?” “What other clues do you see?” “What does Plein Air mean?” “Why do you think artists like to paint outside?”
“Why is light important to artists?”


Georgia O’Keeffe:


  • Georgia O’Keeffe: Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists by Mike Venizia Georgia
  • O’Keeffe and Her Houses: Ghost Ranch and Abiquiu by Barbara B. Lynes
  • Georgia O’Keeffe by Georgia O’Keeffe
  • Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Collection by Barbara B. Lynes
  • Georgia O’Keeffe, DVD, 2009

Lisa Stauffer

Scott Lloyd Anderson

Joi Electra

Matt Kania

Mary Pettis

National Standards for Visual Arts:

Content Standard #1: Understanding and applying media, techniques, and processes
Achievement Standard:
Students know the differences between materials, techniques, and processes. Students describe how different materials, techniques, and processes cause different responses. Students use different media, techniques, and processes to communicate ideas, experiences, and stories. Students use art materials and tools in a safe and responsible manner.

Content Standard #2: Using knowledge of structures and functions
Achievement Standard:
Students know the differences among visual characteristics and purposes of art in order to convey ideas. Students describe how different expressive features and organizational principles cause different responses. Students use visual structures and functions of art to communicate ideas.

Content Standard #3: Choosing and evaluating a range of subject matter, symbols, and ideas
Achievement Standard:
Students explore and understand prospective content for works of art. Students select and use subject matter, symbols, and ideas to communicate meaning.

Content Standard #4: Understanding the visual arts in relation to history and cultures
Achievement Standard:
Students know that the visual arts have both a history and specific relationships to various cultures. Students identify specific works of art as belonging to particular cultures, times, and places. Students demonstrate how history, culture, and the visual arts can influence each other in making and studying works of art.

Content Standard #5: Reflecting upon and assessing the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others
Achievement Standard:
Students understand there are various purposes for creating works of visual art.
Students describe how people's experiences influence the development of specific artworks. Students understand there are different responses to specific artworks.

Content Standard #6: Making connections between visual arts and other disciplines
Achievement Standard:
Students understand and use similarities and differences between characteristics of the visual arts and other arts disciplines. Students identify connections between the visual arts and other disciplines in the curriculum.

Funding for this program is provided by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. Click here for more information or visit the Minnesota Legacy website.

Clean Water, Land & Legacy Amendment