5 captivating facts about Georgia O’Keeffe

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Who is Georgia O’Keeffe?

Best known for her paintings of colored flowers, New York Skyscrapers, and New Mexico landscapes, Georgia O’Keeffe was an influential American Artist. One of Art in Action’s 4th Grade lessons highlights O’Keeffe’s Poppies masterpiece and explores her contribution to modern art. Included in this article are student art pieces inspired by O’Keeffe. 



At the start of the twentieth century, Georgia O’Keeffe was at the forefront and became a leading figure in the cultural and artistic movement — American Modernism. During Art in Action’s lesson, students learn about her realistic flower paintings, her artistic style, and her inspiration to create art. Through examining O’Keeffe’s work, students engage in group discussion questions that focus on key cultural and artistic concepts. Here are five more inspiring facts about Georgia O’Keeffe.

1. She always wanted to be an artist since she was a child
Like all dreamers, O’Keeffe’s ambition had no bounds. Following her dream to become an artist, O’Keeffe started her journey at the young age of 10. She attended the school of Art Institute of Chicago in 1905 and 1906 and later on won the still-life prize for her work,
Dead Rabbit with Copper Pot, at the Art Students League in 1908.



2. She loved to draw nature from the backseat of a Model-A Ford
O’Keeffe often painted in her Model-A Ford when she explored nature. The backseat of her car allowed her to stay out of the unrelenting New-Mexico desert sun. O’Keeffe endured the region’s hottest, most stifling conditions in order to capture its most vivid colors. When O’Keeffe was not in her Model-A, she often camped and hiked the surrounding terrain to keep close to the landscapes that inspired her.

3. She created more than 200 paintings of flowers
Although O’Keeffe is most famous for her eloquent, realistic paintings of flowers — like
Oriental Poppies and Jimson Weed — they only totaled about 200 of her 2,000 plus paintings. The other paintings, like Black Mesa Landscape, primarily depict landscapes or cityscapes.



4. She quit painting three times
Riddled with financial troubles, nervous breakdowns, and crippling eyesight, the famed artist set aside her brushes multiple times. Despite having numerous setbacks, O’Keeffe’s passion for painting never ended. O’Keeffe’s desire to create and design motivated her to never give up. In the years prior to her death, failing eyesight made painting impossible. With the help of a friend, O’Keeffe moved onto a new medium and began experimenting with clay sculpting. She created many clay sculptures, including making flower bowls.

5. She was 98 years old when she passed away
On March 6, 1986, at the age of 98, Georgia O’Keeffe passed away and left an everlasting legacy. Her contributions sparked a cultural shift in 20th-century American art and changed America’s feminist perspective with her unique artistic style. Although faced with many setbacks, O’Keeffe was determined to keep painting. At the end, O’Keeffe’s life attests to one core value: never give up what you love.

I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life — and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a thing I wanted to do.
– Georgia O’Keeffe

Want to learn more about Georgia O’Keeffe? Check out Google’s Cultural Institute exhibit on the renowned “Mother of American modernism.”

Looking for art curriculum to use at home? Check out our newest product perfect for homeschool, distance learning, or just fun with kids at home: The Art in Action Studio Series. 

Interested in arts education for your school? Reach out today: info@artinaction.org