Monday, April 20, 2015

Van Gogh's Sunflowers

Students learned about the famous painter, Vincent van Gogh.  He was not accepted during his lifetime as a great painter, or even a good painter, but he didn't give up.  He felt a drive to create in his own special way that later, after he was gone, was recognized as the work of a genius.  He thought and painted in a way that no one ever had before.
On the first day, I read the story van Gogh and the Sunflowers  by Laurence Anholt.  I lead the students in drawing the line for the table, the vase, and the sunflowers.  They looked carefully at photos of sunflowers and van Gogh's paintings before deciding how many to include and the position of each flower.  Then they outlined with very small brushes in black tempera.  I didn't want everything to perfectly outlined, so that's why we did the back first,  because I knew some of the black would get painted over later.  It worked out very well.  Small brushes are key.
For the second installment of this lesson, I premixed a palette of tempera colors that students shared. Several values of yellow, orange, brown, blue and green were offered and students chose their own background colors and flower colors.  Since I wanted them to paint with visible brush strokes like van Gogh, I decided we would not clean brushes between colors.  Some kids were excited, some were nervous because we ALWAYS clean our brushes when changing colors!  It didn't take long for them to discover the pleasure of colors mixing before their own eyes as yellow blended with blue, and blue with brown.  They loved the results - and so do I!  How could you not?  

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