A Wednesday With Van Gogh

Last Wednesday at the Cohocksink rec center, we had a very fun and colorful art class! Introduced the students to the famous dutch painter Vincent van Gogh! In the beginning of this lesson I asked the students if they were familiar with Van Gogh or any of his works, and to my surprise the students recognized the name and were able to tell me that he was the artist who painted Starry Night! Which was fantastic, and made me even more excited to share the book I brought them. `Vincent’s Colors’ by Vincent Van Gogh and the Metropolitan Museum of Art WIlliam Lach (editor) is a fabulous book that explores the paintings of Van Gogh while pairing then with the descriptions he wrote for them in his letters to his brother Theo. The students really enjoyed the wide variety of brushstrokes and colors in the paintings.

For today’s lesson we focused Specifically on the Sunflower painting. Van Gogh was in love with sunflowers and painted them over and over again he saw them as a sign of Gratitude and was fascinated with their color. One of these paintings is also on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 

Before we began our art making we analyzed this painting counting how many sunflowers he painted (12), how they fill the composition (Not a lot of negative space), and how he used his colors ( Even though he uses a lot of yellow you can still tell the difference between the table, the background and the flowers). We then passed out our materials and began our planning process for our artwork.

We began by drawing our vases making sure to keep them towards the bottom of the page so we had plenty of room for our flowers. Once our vases were complete the students used different patterns to decorate them. Then we created to illusion that our vases were sitting on top of a table by creating a horizon line across the bottom of the page that stops and starts at the side of the vase instead of going straight through. Now it was time to fill our vases the students were required to have at least 5 flowers. I demonstrated two different ways to create petals.

Now that we planned out our work it was time to and color! We wanted these to be bright and vibrant just like Van Gogh’s paintings so we used oil pastels so the students could experience different types of blending (with their fingers or by layering the pastels). During this process i made sure that students were only using the pastels on the vase and flowers because we had a fun idea for the rest of our projects. Once they were finished with the oil pastels, intruded the students to the process of watercolor resist. Which is when using oil based materials such as oil pastels and crayons you can use watercolors and paint right over them and not have to worry about messing up your drawing since the oil in the pastels resists the water. This was a relief to students who worked really hard on their flowers and didn’t want to risk messing them up with paint.

Overall we had a fantastic art class! All students participated and had a great time learning about Van Gogh and creating a work of art inspired by him! I am very excited for our next class this week! 

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