Transforming Van Gogh’s The Starry Night on Paper

Olly Liu

Inspired by Van Gogh’s Starry Night, the student began a journey of making their own Starry Night with paints on paper. This project is a three week long exercise, focusing on helping the students to understand the basic elements of a painting and the techniques of making a better image. 

During the first class, we first briefly discussed the techniques and compositions that Van Gogh used in his work, with a focus on different layers of depth with different objects, contrast between the colors and the focus on the subject. Students learned the idea of rule of thirds, in which you can divide the image into three layers, such as mountain, sea and sky, and vertically, such as tower, houses and stars. We follow that idea in compositing our paintings. 

Followed by an example done on the board, students quickly gets their hands dirty on the job. During the process students also learned to use of implied lines, to help clarify between different parts of the painting. While some younger students found it hard to grasp the idea of implied lines, the oldest quickly get the gist of it and find very helpful in their work.

  Student’s work after the first class 

From the second class, students began to experiment with colors. We started by toning each section with different colors to represent light and depth. This part was a little challenging, mainly because some of the younger students does not follow clear directions and started mixing paints. Nonetheless, most of the work were a good work in progress, but the end of the class they start to look like their own version of the Starry Night, with a personal touch on each of their work. 

For the next class we are going to finish the details(stars, houses, wind, etc) and hopefully a masterpiece will be produced!