Open to Interpretation

It is all in how you see the world. That is one of the things Trident Academy art teacher Will Hegler hopes his students will get from a unit on American artist Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986).


All Trident Academy students from kindergarten to 12th grade are learning about O’Keeffe’s style and replicating it in their own way. Upper School students studied live cut flowers under magnifying glasses and then sketched them on paper. They then worked in teams to transfer the sketches to large 24” x 36” canvas and paint them with acrylics. Middle School students are following a similar process on a smaller scale and working in pairs. Lower School students will work individually to sketch and paint flowers on a small canvas.


“I have been very impressed with what the students have done, and with what they have learned,” Hegler says. “O’Keeffe really had a unique way of seeing the world and I’ve tried to emphasize this to the students in hopes they will embrace their unique ways of viewing the world. O’Keeffe took a common subject and interpreted it in a whole new way – an area in which our students excel.”


O’Keeffe’s style is to enlarge and abstract her subject – flowers. They are painted so large that they extend beyond the edge of the canvas and to the point that the viewer might not recognize it as being a part of a flower – just shapes and colors. One art reviewer said that her large canvases were “…as if we humans were butterflies.”


Hegler says the students are gaining many valuable skills from this assignment that even go beyond art. The students are understanding the importance of paying attention to detail and sketching from life. They are learning to plan both a composition (the layout or design of a painting) and the colors they want to use. Finally, they are learning to work together and divide tasks to accomplish a goal.


For more information, contact Will Hegler at 843-884-7046.

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