Abstract Expressionism Workshop – Focus on Helen Frankenthaler

30 Mar

Last week the girls painted freely in this abstract expressionist workshop. I asked them to first draw “happy lines”, “sad lines”, and “silly lines” to give them an idea of how to express emotion through shapes and line rather than literal figures and symbols. Then the girls were given cardstock and paint and I asked them to paint any emotion or a mixture of emotions trying to use only line and shape rather than words, symbols, or figures. Helen Frankenthaler’s stunning work was the inspiration for this particular lesson.


Mary Cassatt Workshop – Mar 2, 2011: K-3rd

5 Mar

Mary Cassatt was an American Impressionist Painter and Printmaker. She
lived most of her life in France. Cassatt often created images of the
social and private lives of women, with particular emphasis on the
intimate bonds between mothers and children. She created most of her work
using pastels. She tended to use more detail in her paintings than most
impressionists, and she enjoyed using bold colors to get her vision
across. Much of her later, and most popular work of paintings of mother
and child, was highly influenced by the simplicity and clarity of Japanese

I asked the girls to create their own paintings featuring relationships
between Mother, daughter, friend, or just an image of a woman alone if
they preferred. They first outlined their drawing with colored pencil,
then filled in the painting using bold colors and an impressionistic style
of painting using pastels. For an exciting twist to the painting and an
added lesson on the complexities of texture in artwork, I asked them to
add tissue paper to their paintings. They could add as much or as little
tissue as they wanted to the work.

Georgia O’Keefe Workshop – Feb 23, 2011: K-3rd Grade

4 Mar

Week One: Georgia O’Keefe (November 15, 1887 – March 6, 1986)

Georgia O’Keefe was an American artist. In my Girls Inc/Unleash HeART lesson, I focused on teaching the girls about the period in her career when she painted close-ups of flowers in bright, bold colors. No one had ever painted close-ups of flowers before. O’Keefe always painted subjects using strong colors. She simplified her subjects so that nothing remained except the most important parts. Her work was described as American Modernism. She combined abstraction and representation in her art to create not just an interpretation of a flower, but a visual poem of how a flower made her feel, through a painting.

After I taught the girls about who Georgia was, and what she painted in this period of her life, I asked them to create their own visual poems of how flowers made them feel. I encouraged them to draw an outline of a flower (or flowers) up close, so they could really examine the details that go into a flower’s design. Then I asked them to paint with watercolor inside the outline of the flower to give it some texture.