Thursday, September 6, 2012

Van Gogh Sunflowers

Supplies: drawing paper, black sharpies, oil pastels, and if possible, a few sunflowers

Brief Background: Vincent Van Gogh was born in 1853 (over 150 years ago!). He was from the Netherlands, although he spent much of his adult life in France.

Van Gogh originally wanted to be a minister, because he cared much for other people and loved God. But he decided instead to become a painter. When he first started he was not very good and discouraged by his art teachers but he persevered, and worked incredibly hard. He loved painting with thick oil paint and he used bright, vivid colors to express himself -- he felt very deeply about many things. In the last ten years of his life he painted over 2,000 paintings. And although he only sold one painting while he was alive, now he is one of the most famous artists ever and his paintings are worth millions and millions of dollars and in museums all over the world.

{Depending on what grade you teaching this lesson to, you might want to add more to the discussion of Van Gogh. You can find great info here and here. Also, the Smart about Art book about Vincent Van Gogh should be in the art cabinet and if time permits, that's a great way to introduce the kids to the life of Van Gogh.}

Sunflowers: Van Gogh painted many pictures of sunflowers. Here are a few {see slideshare presentation here}. What do you notice about the color? How did Van Gogh apply the paint? Are the colors warm or cool? Do you like them?

If you have sunflowers - hold one up and have the kids help point out its parts: the long stem, the short plentiful petals and their pointy shape, the large dark center which is made up of lots of black seedy things, the green leaves which make a crown around the yellow petals.

On white drawing paper, have the kids draw five or six circles of varying sizes, roughly in the center. Once they've done this have them draw a smaller circle in the middle of each circle, then a simple vase shape, then a horizontal line across to indicate background. (I think it helps to do each step described together. You can do it on the board and they can follow.) Then have them add petals, and color in with oil pastel.

-talk about the idea of warm/cool colors, and challenge the kids to make their flowers warm and backgrounds cool.

-a tissue paper alternative can be found here - I think Melanie's kids' version turned out really great. The picture is a bit fuzzy but those are sequins glued in the middle - which is super fun.

-have the kids cut out their flowers/vase and glue it onto decorative paper

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