Family Activity: Traveling Above, Looking Below

Learn about Georgia O'Keeffe's unique perspective in Sky Above Clouds IV and create your own bird's eye view. Includes discussion questions and an art-making activity.


Introduction:

Artist Georgia O’Keeffe lived to be almost 100 years old. She grew up in the wide-open spaces of the Wisconsin prairies, but as an adult, Georgia worked in crowded New York City. In her later life, she returned to open spaces, this time in New Mexico, where she painted flowers and bones from the desert.

In her 70s, O’Keeffe took her first trip by airplane. She was fascinated by the extraordinary view of the earth with the clouds below her. She made Sky Above Clouds IV, 1965, after this flight. The painting is 24 feet wide by 8 feet tall. To make the painting, she stretched the canvas across the end of her double garage and had to climb a ladder to reach the top.

Look carefully at O'Keeffe's painting Sky Above Clouds IV.

Discussion Questions:

  • Is the picture full or empty? What takes up the most space?
  • What shapes do you see? Are they repeated?
  • If you were to jump from cloud to cloud, what path would you take? How long would it take you to get to the horizon?

Activity:

Make a painting in the style of O’Keeffe’s Sky above Clouds IV.

Materials Needed:

  • Paper
  • Pencil
  • Watercolors
  • Paintbrush
  • Water

Steps:

  1. Choose a bird’s-eye view: above your shoes, above your toys, or above your house, for example. Pay attention to how objects look from that perspective.
  2. Look for shapes. Consider the ways that shapes, lines, and colors repeat themselves in regular or irregular patterns.
  3. Make a light pencil sketch, filling your page with these shapes.
  4. Use paint to add color.

Glossary

bird's-eye view (n)
a view from above, as though a bird were looking down while in flight

style (n)
a distinctive manner of expression (as in writing, speech, or art)



Art Access