One of the most lovely and serene of Vincent van Gogh’s paintings entitled ” The Starry Night”, is perfect to use as the example for a children’s van Gogh art appreciation project.
Many of the now classic master artists, like Vincent van Gogh have a colourful and sometimes difficult personal history. Perhaps that only adds to the depth and character of their works. Great artistic genius often doesn’t fit a perfect mold. It is that rebellious difference that has continually changed and reformed the art world. The battle for the artist to get his or her work accepted has historically been one of shocking the then current art world out if its complacency and closed mindedness. This struggle makes both the critics and the viewers expand their definition of art.
The painting and the troubled life of van Gogh, inspired the touching and lilting song “Vincent”, otherwise known as “Starry Starry Night”, by Don Mclean.
For the information on his life, the most obvious tidbit that people remember and react to, was the severing of his own ear. It was actually the lobe of his ear.
His most famous pieces include the now astronomically priced and Sunflower series, one of which sold in 1989 for 70.9 million dollars.
Again, remember to provide some historical facts, background and art style to the children, and show examples of his work, asking for their feelings about the paintings.
For this project you will need the following supplies:
One or two pieces of black construction paper. (Two if they want to do more than one picture. These are fun and simple to do, and they may feel inspired to create more than one.)
Coloured chalks and/or coloured pencils. ( Either method will work, since either method gives the children a different medium to try. They both work well on black construction paper. You can even use simple sidewalk or school chalks. You do not have to invest in expensive art chalks to do this project. )
Hairspray or setting spray to help keep the chalks from smearing, after the picture is done. You don’t need this if you are just using coloured pencils.
After seeing the ‘Starry Night” by Vincent van Gogh, ask them what they see, how it makes them feel, and point out the textures and shapes used to create this painting. Make sure you leave it set out where they can see and refer back to it. That way they can use it for inspiration.
Some children do not feel they have the ability to do “good” artwork. Assure them there is no good or bad in these art interpretations. Praise them for their work. A little praise could bring them out of themselves a bit, and they may find they enjoy the creation of their own masterpiece. They are expressions and reactions to an artist’s work. In this case they are reacting to and creating an interpretation of Vincent Van Gogh.
Give each child a sheet of black paper.
Put a bucket or box of chalks, or colored pencils of all colours out. for them to use.
Ask them to draw their own starry night scene. Tell them it is o.k. to look at the copy of van Gogh’s “Starry Night” painting.
Mingle with the children and comment on their work, pointing out special features you admire in each.
Encourage them to fill the sheet with the drawing. It they are having difficulty, show them the original van Gogh “Starry Night” again and ask them individually, what components they see that makes up the painting. Then tell them to add some of those in to their work. You might try sitting next to one and creating your own van Gogh “Starry Night” masterpiece, while you talk to them. Sometimes that can help get a child, who is refusing to be involved, to open up and begin to work.
Even young children have ways they express themselves in their art. Some are very bold and free, others very controlled. No matter what style they use to interpret and create, it is an expression of their own self. Encourage that expression while they create their own van Gogh “Starry Night”.
If you use the chalk method, use the setting medium of whichever kind you choose. Lightly spray it on the artwork or in the air and swoosh the painting through it. That will finish and protect their van Gogh “Starry Night” drawing.
Now have the children make a wish upon their very own van Gogh “Starry Night” creation.