Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986)
Ranchos Church, New Mexico, 1930–31
Oil on canvas
Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas


Georgia O’Keeffe (1887–1986), Ranchos Church, New Mexico, 1930-31, oil on canvas, Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas, 1971.16






Looking and Discussing
Grade: 4–5; 6–8; 9–12
Subject: Visual Art, Language Arts

Discussing Ranchos Church, New Mexico

  • Describe what you see in Georgia O’Keeffe’s painting Ranchos Church, New Mexico. Be sure to include the entire setting.

  • Describe how the artist uses color, shape, line, and texture to express mood, insights, feelings, and ideas.

  • What colors did O’Keeffe use in this work of art? Describe each color (be as specific as possible: bright or dull, warm or cold, harsh or soft).

  • What mood does O’Keeffe create by using these colors?

  • Often when people first see this image, they think it looks like something other than a church. What does this look like to you? How did O’Keeffe make the church look like it had volume? (Students' answers may vary widely, ranging from a mountain to an upside-down paper bag.)

  • How did O’Keeffe use abstraction to create this image? Does it look real?

Grade: 4–5
Subject: Visual Art, Language Arts

See Student Activity: Looking at Art Through Cinquain Poetry

  • Daniel Catton Rich said that O’Keeffe “has always believed that a long poem could be said in a few intense words and that a painting could likewise be stripped down to its essential form and meaning.” Using the cinquain poem instructions in the appendix, have students write a poem using a “few intense words” that describe this work of art.

Grade: 6–8; 9–12
Subject: Visual Art

The Process of Abstraction

  • Select an object, such as a piece of fruit or a plant.

  • Make a series of four drawings. The first drawing should have as many details as you can incorporate. In the second drawing, eliminate some of the unessential details. In the third, incorporate fewer details, and in the fourth, the least details. By the time you are drawing the object for the fourth time, incorporate only the most essential details. The fourth drawing should give the viewer a sense of the object but not a realistic image of it.

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