Painting like Van Gogh

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  Today at the Co-op:


Artist Study, Week 3: Vincent Van Gogh


Art rule of the day:

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together” –Van Gogh

Fun Facts:

  1. Van Gogh suffered from many mental problems; in fact, he even cut off his own ear! No one is sure of the reason why, other than he was prone to hallucinations. His masterpiece, Starry Night, was painted while he was living in a mental asylum.
  2. Van Gogh painted things based in reality. His favorite things to paint were fields, Cyprus trees, and himself.  In order to paint these things he spent most of his time sitting in fields, looking at photographs, and looking in the mirror so he could paint things as he saw them. His wavy lines and the surreal appearance of his paintings may be a reflection of how his illness changed his view of the world.
  3. Van Gogh only sold one painting during his life, Red Vineyard at Arles, for 400 francs (about 1000 U.S. dollars in today’s world). Today, Van Gogh’s 900 paintings are some of the most expensive in the world, and the last time the Red Vineyard at Arles was at action, it sold for 82.5 million dollars. Van Gogh painted despite being unable to sell his paintings.


We had a blast painting like Van Gogh! I showed them his tree paintings, and then I had the kids use small, circular strokes with oil pastels to create their own swirly trees. I know that Van Gogh prefered oil paint, but this was much less messy! I tried to remind them that Van Gogh took very small, deliberate steps in order to make a beautiful picture, and we tried to make small, small strokes with our pastels. We then added a watercolor wash, and they turned out awesome if I can brag about these awesome kids!


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  1. I have hopes of teaching an art class next semester at our coop. I would love to have the kids paint the classics. How many classes did it take for your students to create this wonderful piece of art?

    1. Each project shown on this blog was done in a one hour class, including the 10-15 minutes or so it takes to go over the artist and art history. It’s a fantastic, easy project for them to get done in that amount of time! 🙂 I hope your co-op kids enjoy it!

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