6th grade students learn about the artist Georgia O'Keeffe and her style of abstracting flowers by drawing them monumentally. Each student then gets a chance to create their own O'Keeffe inspired artwork focused on observation, abstraction, shading, and color theory.
Students collect various images of flowers during the planning process of this unit. These images are used for observational drawing as students create rough draft versions of their project. We focus extensively on composition, emphasizing overlapping and going off the edge of the page. It is often difficult for students to draw beyond the borders, but in the interest of abstraction, students try their best to push their flowers past the limits of the paper.
After students have had the opportunity to design their composition, we practice shading in their sketchbooks. Using both drawing pencils and colored pencils, students demonstrate their ability to morph one color into another with gradation. These skills are then transferred to their final drawings using oil pastels.
Like many units in sixth grade, we take a moment to discuss color theory before students begin to add color to their artwork. In this case, students are encouraged to think about positive and negative space, in addition to analogous and complementary colors. They must choose several analogous colors to use for their positive space and a contrasting complementary color for their negative space.