High and Dry


Georgia O'Keeffe's landscapes inspire a study of deserts and creation of detailed desert ecosystem drawings.


1. Look at a variety of topographical maps and desert photographs. Research the meanings of terms and symbols used to describe the world's deserts. Describe similarities and differences between desert environments and the local environment, citing plant and animal life, temperature, and rainfall, for example.

2. Study desert scenes painted by Georgia O'Keeffe. Identify elements of desert landscapes depicted in her art.

3. Cover the work surface with newspaper. Experiment with Crayola® Watercolor Paints to create a sand dune effect that shows various planes of landscape. Dry on a flat surface.

4. When dry, add details with Crayola Colored Pencils.


Safety Guidelines

Adult supervision is required for any arts & crafts project. Observe children closely and intervene as necessary to prevent potential safety problems and ensure appropriate use of arts and crafts materials. Some craft items, particularly beads and buttons, are potential choking hazards for young children. Avoid use of such small parts with children younger than 3 years. Craft items such as scissors, push pins and chenille sticks may have sharp points or edges. Avoid use of materials with sharp points by children younger than 4 years. Read all manufacturers' safety warnings before using arts and craft supplies.

Crayola Washable Paints—Not for use as body/face paint.


  • With secondary students, examine color in Georgia O'Keeffe's work. Observe the effects of light on various surfaces. Discuss the physical properties of light, and expressive use of color to indicate light. Artists often show the effects of light using color values (darkness or lightness) rather than depicting the true color of an object. Light has definite wavelengths and color when separated with a prism.
  • Observe and discuss the similarities of the flow of sand moved by air to create dunes to waves in water. Parallel a boater's use of a rudder (water navigation) to a hawk's tail feathers (air navigation).
  • With younger or special needs students, use sand to create a desert landscape first. Discuss the effects of wind on sand. Compare moving hands on the sand to wind direction.

Related Lesson Plans

Lesson Plans

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crayola supplies
  • Colored Pencils
  • Washable Watercolors
  • Watercolor Brushes with Plastic Handle
  • Giant Marker and Watercolor Pad



  • Pre-K and Kindergarten
  • Grades 1 to 3
  • Grades 4 to 6
  • Grades 7 to 12
  • Special Needs


  • Science
  • Visual Arts


  • 30 to 60 minutes
  • Multiple Sessions


  • Children observe and identify desert topography and visual patterns in Georgia O'Keeffe's art and photographs of desert landscapes.

  • Children analyze desert ecosystems, including plants and animals that are adapted to specific biomes.

  • Students represent the effects of weather on desert ecosystems in detailed drawings.


Research Canada Standards
Research UK Standards
Research U.S. Standards