ACTIVITIES THAT GIVE DIFFERENT WAYS OF SEEING THINGS

"Where the telescope ends, the microscope begins. Which of the two has the grander view?"
    —Victor Hugo


A CLOSER VIEW

When you looked at Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings, could you tell right away what they were? It might have been a little hard at first. Sometimes she liked to focus on just a small part of whatever she was painting, and sometimes she made a single object fill the whole frame. A close-up view like that could fool anybody!

Georgia O'Keeffe, Yellow Calla
This is the way I "zoom-in" when I want to make a close-up picture. Do you think I could fool you?

Here's what I do:

1. Get out these supplies:
  • lightweight cardboard (one 6 x 6 inch square)
  • ruler
  • pencil
  • scissors
  • two paper clips
  • drawing paper
  • paintbrush
  • watercolors
  • jar of water
  • rag or paper towel
2. Make a viewfinder.
  • With your pencil and ruler, draw two L-shapes along the edges of your cardboard. The width of your ruler is a good measurement to use.
  • Cut the L-shapes out. Now you have two halves of a frame. You won't need the small square that's left over.
  • Hold the shapes together to make a whole frame. What shapes can it become? What sizes? Experiment!
  • Use your paper clips to join the Ls together in a viewfinder shape you like.
3. Try out different views.
  • Look at this book through your viewfinder. "Zoom out" by moving the viewfinder closer to your eye. What do you see? (Try not to pay attention to anything outside of your frame!) You probably see the whole book and part of the room around it. Now, "zoom in" by moving the viewfinder closer to the page. Do you see much more than a few words?
4. "Focus" your picture.
  • Use your viewfinder to search the room. What would make an interesting picture?
  • "Zoom in"! If you move your viewfinder close enough, you'll only be able to see simple shapes, colors, and patterns.
5. Make your close-up picture.
  • Hold your viewfinder very still.
  • Pretend the viewfinder is the frame of your picture. This means you shouldn't add anything you don't see inside of it.
  • With your pencil and paper, draw the outline of everything you see inside your viewfinder. Fill your paper, and don't forget the details!
  • Use watercolors to make your picture colorful. Be sure to clean your brush with water before you dip it in a new color. (Georgia O'Keeffe was famous for working with a very clean palette, or color-mixing tray. That's why the colors in her paintings are so clear.)
6. Ask a friend to give your picture a title.
  • Could they recognize your close-up view?