Nature in Art: Nature Study and Georgia O’Keefe

I’m enjoying a break as my family welcomes our new baby. I’ve got some wonderful guest posts lined up to share with you.  Today, I am pleased to welcome my friend Sally Faulkner of With Eager Hands.  – Kara

Summer is a time of expansion, of that long-anticipated out-breath of life, don’t you think? The days are long and free, each sunrise bringing its promise of something fresh and new.  For many, gardening and food preservation are the hallmarks of summer. For others, it is travel and vacations with family and friends. Still others eagerly welcome and embrace the days of poolside respite and relaxation.

We are fairly big homebodies here, so taking a break from our lessons and appointments is what summer is all about.  While as homeschoolers we choose to stop the majority of formal studies, we like to keep the children engaged and learning.

Summer here lends itself to two wonderful learning opportunities: Nature Study and Artist Study. Both activities are kid-magnets, are easy to orchestrate, and best of all — summer months provide us all with a plethora of subjects to study!

The fact that Mom also loves these two studies and desires to make them a larger part of the family’s homeschool experience makes these activities winners all around.

Nature Study and Artist Study

Educator Charlotte Mason was a firm believer in children being surrounded by nature, observing the Creator’s handiwork, and developing a deep appreciation for the world around them.
In our home, we have found the book, Handbook to Nature Study and Mrs. Barb’s blog, Handbook of Nature Study to be two excellent tools. Combining a relaxed summertime nature study with a mind-tickling session of art is a great learning experience, and is a lot of fun!

When it comes to Artist Study, I always find myself visiting , and the various books we have in our library.

Not Just for Homeschoolers

Both Nature Study and Artist Study are easy to facilitate in your home, whether or not you homeschool. As the adult in charge, I had to face my own insecurities about drawing, so that I could present the material, and support my children’s efforts.

I have found the book, Drawing with Children, to be a wonderful asset in our home! With the shackles of judgement broken, I felt ready to jump in to Artist Study.  Nature Study is really about observation and appreciation, and so is Artist Study. It sounds like a perfect pairing to me!

Today I would like to share with you a simple, classic Nature in Art activity we recently did in our home: Nature, and the Art of Georgia O’Keefe. We took a closer look at the art of Georgia O’Keefe, ventured out into hot Virginia heat to the yard and garden to find out focus subject, then used O’Keefe’s intimate, larger-than-life style to recreate those subjects on paper.

It’s so easy to pull together, and such an enjoyable learning and creative experience for all ages — read on to find out what we did.

What you will need:

  • book or website of O’Keefe’s paintings
  • magnifying glass
  • watercolor, or other thicker paper
  • oil pastels
  • watercolors, water cup, paintbrushes

What you can do:

Take some time with your children to enjoy the works of O’Keefe. A beat-the-heat trip to a gallery that features her works might be in order,or a print or online “gallery” might be best suited for your family. Spend time looking at how she paints the primary subject so large and up-close — it fills the entire canvas! Notice, too, her use of color, the way she represents the subject of her painting.
Have the children go outside and find that special summer flower, leaf, garden vegetable or fruit and study it. Feel it ~ smell it ~ consider the variations of color, texture, and more. Use the magnifying glass to look more closely at the plant. You may choose to take the plant inside to study the plant further. You will be drawing this plant on a fairly large scale, so the more they can notice about the plant, the better.

When the children feel they are ready, have each one take an oil pastel (we used darker colors to make a stronger contrast) to draw their subject. Just as O’Keefe painted her pictures large and very close, our budding artists need to draw out their plant to fill the page.
Using the watercolors, fill in the page with color that suits the artists.
Simply let dry, then have each artist sign and date their piece of art, then hang as you see fit.

I guarantee that they will begin to look at those tomato blooms and dandelion faces in a new light after this!

Does your family enjoy Nature Study?  Have you found art a way to connect your children to nature?

Sally keeps the coffee flowing, the knitting needles clicking, and her many lists growing almost as fast as her 4 children, and blogs about it at { with eager hands }

About Kara

Kara Fleck is the editor of Simple Kids. She is a small town mama, writer, knitter, bookworm, and hooligan. Kara lives in Indiana with her husband Christopher and their four children Jillian, Max, Lucy, and Amelia. You can find more of her writing at

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  1. I wish my baby knows how to paint. She is still 4 years old and shes doesn’t know how to use georgia-okeefe.
    Xina´s latest post: angry birds for windows

  2. These are really nice ideas. My daughter loves nature and often draws things and just occasionally is able to persuade her older brother to get involved as well.
    Kira Green´s latest post: Summer Infant Best View Baby Monitor

  3. foxbrooken says:


    You used the word “welcome” and not the word “anticipating” in reference to your baby. Is she in your arms and are you gazing into each other’s eyes now??

  4. Im not yet a father, but reading your post makes me want to have children so i can do with them the things you do with your children. thank you for this wonderful post. hope to use it soon 🙂
    barak´s latest post: Dog loss quotes

  5. We are adding the new (to us) study of nature this year. Great ideas to combine art with nature study. Enjoyed your post.
    MissMOE´s latest post: Why Timelines

  6. Thanks, MissMOE! I look foward to reading your posts about it all!
    Sally´s latest post: 2011-2012 Curriculum Epic


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