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Beginners: Find Your Inner O’Keeffe and Find Yourself – G190515

Workshop ID: G190515
Dates: May 15 - May 19
Price: $0.00

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This workshop is full. Please select another Ghost Ranch workshop. Ms. Koster teaches again in the fall. O’Keeffe was once a beginner herself. Join us for this workshop—beginners, amateurs and those looking for a new start for their work—based on O’Keeffe’s dictum to “fill a space in a beautiful way.” Choose your medium: pastels, paint, collage. Experience lessons that O’Keeffe got from her most influential teacher (Arthur Wesley Dow) and the lessons she, herself, gave novices. This class opens up the making of art with a view toward O’Keeffe’s own perspective and practices. There is so much to consider when approaching a blank page or canvas: What to paint or draw, the composition or placement of subject matter, how to get the forms right, combining color for effect or going monochromatic, plus technique for applying the chosen media. Get started or get further guidance from an instructor who worked for O’Keeffe in 1976 and went on to study art and a museum career.


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Anna Koster

Anna Koster had the opportunity to serve as Georgia O’Keeffe’s weekend companion in 1976. Since then, Anna has enjoyed a life and career focused on art. She earned a Master of Fine Arts degree at


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Workshop ID: G190515      

Start date: Wednesday, May 15, 2019 (check-in after 3 p.m.)

End date: Sunday, May 19, 2019 (check-out by 10 a.m.)

I look forward to our days together. You will learn about Georgia O’Keeffe and her approach to art, get inspiration from the landscape that she loved, and create your own works.

Learning Objectives

We will be guided by the approach O’Keeffe learned (from her most influential teacher) to “fill a space in a beautiful way,” as we focus on line, color, and shape — while in the landscape that inspired O’Keeffe. But you will develop your own creative expression. This course provides an affirming artistic experience for the novice. This course is also open to experienced artists who want to try something new and learn about O’Keeffe, her life, and her art.

Itinerary and Topics Covered (please note that this is subject to change)

Wednesday, May 15      Check-in begins at 3:00 p.m. Dinner is 5:30-6:30. We meet at 7–8:30 p.m. in the Art Center (studio) for welcome, orientation, introductions, and a course overview.

Thursday, May 16         9 a.m.–noon in studio for an “O’Keeffe exercise” experimenting with composition; 3 pm O’Keeffe Landscape Tour (by van); 7–8:30 p.m. studio session, complete composition exercise with color

Friday, May 16                9 a.m.–noon in studio, complete color works from initial exercise and start a new project; afternoon (1:30-5 p.m.) or evening (7-8:30) in studio, participants decide which time is free, which is in studio

Saturday, May 17                      9 a.m.–noon continue works in studio or outdoors; 1:30-5 p.m. complete works and prepare evening art display; free time after dinner

Sunday, May 18              Checkout by 10 a.m.

General Workshop Hours

Sessions mornings (9 a.m.–noon) and afternoons (1:30-5 p.m.) plus evenings free or in class (7-8:30). Meals served 5:30-6:30 a.m., noon, and 5:30 p.m. The studio will be open all hours for those who want to work during free times.

Schedule Options

You can stay later on Sunday, after emptying your room by 10 a.m. And you can also arrange to pay for lunch and dinner, or even an additional day’s stay before or after the workshop.

Materials to Bring with You

If you already own art materials that you like to use (paint, colored pencils, etc.), bring those. Otherwise, purchase materials for this class. I suggest:

  • Pad of 9×12-inch paper for pastel/charcoal drawing paper
  • Kneaded eraser (also called a kneadable eraser, used with charcoal and pastel media)
  • Medium-hard pastels, set of 12, Prismacolor Nupastels or equivalent
  • Paintbrush, a flat-bristle brush, with nylon bristles, 1/4 or 1-1/2 inches wide
  • Glue stick
  • Please bring a pair of scissors, if possible (If you only have carry-on luggage, you can’t)
  • Optional: Additional individual pastel colors as desired to enhance your palette. Or you can purchase a larger box.

Also bring comfortable walking shoes, a brimmed hat, sunscreen, clothes for changeable weather (hot/cool, rain/sun), a water bottle, and a camera if you have one (on a phone is fine)

Materials That Will Be Supplied

Participants need to bring their own basic supplies listed above. I will bring fixative and blending stumps (also called tortillons) for working in pastels and a variety of other materials for experimentation.

All Skill Levels Welcome

This course is ideal for beginners and amateurs. It is open to experienced artists wanting a fresh approach. Novices will learn the most while enjoying a supportive atmosphere. Advanced artists will try exercises and get information to help them understand O’Keeffe and her art.

Optional Reading

There is no required reading. Past participants have said that they would have appreciated an advance reading list. If you are of like mind, here it is:

  • For its accuracy and detail, I like Roxana Robinson’s biography Georgia O’Keeffe, first published by Harper & Row in 1989. Also, Portrait of an Artist: A Biography of Georgia O’Keeffe by Laurie Lisle, from Washington Square Press, is respected and is easier to read (fewer details).
  • If you want to hear what others who worked for O’Keeffe have to say about their experience, you could read Weekends with O’Keeffe by C. S. Merrill*, published by La Alameda Press, or Remembering Miss O’Keeffe by Margaret Wood, published by Museum of New Mexico Press. *Carol Merrill briefly mentions me twice in her book.
  • You can browse online or visit your local library to view illustrated books of O’Keeffe’s art to get an idea of the range of her work, well beyond flowers and New Mexico landscapes.
  • If you have little or no experience drawing, that’s perfectly OK. But if you want to get a head start before coming to Ghost Ranch, I suggest visiting your local library for a basic book on drawing for beginners. Avoid books where the authors appear to be showing off their skills rather than giving easy instructions. The only book that looked OK when I visited the store was Drawing Nature for the Absolute Beginner: A Clear & Easy Guide to Drawing Landscapes & Nature by Mark and Mary Willenbrink, published by F&W Publications Inc.

NOTE: No reading is required. This list is only for those who want to do something extra before or after their week at Ghost Ranch.

About Anna Koster

I first taught at Ghost Ranch in the 1970s, and then returned in 2014 to lead annual O’Keeffe-related courses. I have also taught at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum (Santa Fe), Palo Alto (CA) Art Center, and San Jose (CA) Museum of Art. I have two art degrees (BA and MFA) and worked at art museums for 35 years, including 15 years at Stanford University’s Cantor Arts Center. Learn about me at my website: Visit our Facebook group “Lessons from Georgia O’Keeffe’s Art, Life, Landscape” at (“OK” must be upper case, the rest lower case); you can view posts or join the group to share there.

Contact: If you have questions, feel free to email me.

I look forward to meeting you and to our experience at Ghost Ranch!

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