Studying Van Gogh gives children an opportunity to experiment with a very specific “wavy” artistic style. The very well know starry night paintings are good examples of this style and have such wonderful skies that lots of children will want to try them out.
Tate Kids gives an introduction to Van Gogh, opening with a picture of his sunflowers painting and the question Who is Vincent Van Gogh? It mentions that each of the 14 sunflowers are painted differently, showing children, I think, that there are many possible ways to present something.
Ducksters has a children’s biography of Van Gogh with some interesting facts and a few paintings listed available for viewing. This is suitable for younger children.
Coolkidfacts has more detail about his life and death which may only be suitable for older children.
ArtsyCraftsyMom has collected a set of projects for children. She says:
“Van Gogh’s work has a certain child-like simplicity to it, especially in the use of bold colors. A child is bound to be interested in the details in his pictures and this is a great learning opportunity for him too. Art is great for kids and not just in developing a sense of culture. The organization ‘Americans for Arts’ report that children who regularly practice art are four times more likely to do well in academics.”(ArtsyCraftsyMom)
The projects that she has collected are linked from her page and include:
- 3D models of paintings: A 3D model making project for older children.
- Sunflower Collage, A collage based on the famous Van Gogh painting “Sunflowers” using yellow tissue paper to make the flowers. I think this would be great for the younger children.
- Starry Night Ornaments – maybe a great one to do for Christmas! Using the swirling patterns from the original painting to make Christmas cards, room or tree decorations.
- Van Gogh Coloring Pages, though I am not really in favour of simple colouring these could be used to help children understand the style of painting Van Gogh used.
- Chair Pop out card, a simple 3D rendering of the “The Chair and the Pipe” painting.
- Oil Pastel Art Use the bright colours of oil pastels if you have access to them to create art inspired by the “Wheatfield with Crows” painting.
- Field of Poppies – an inspiring colourful painting project based on the painting “A Field of Poppies”
- Oil Pastel Lamp Thinking about light and shadows and getting that lighting effect in art. This is for the older children.
- Room Diorama Craft – Using Van Gogh’s idea to create their own 3D rooms. I have seen this idea work really well in a virtual word such as Minecraft.
ArtyCraftsyMum’s 10th project has disappeared from the web but it is a great idea still: “A homemade Van Gogh costume is a perfect tribute to the great painter who asked us to challenge the voices that hold us down. Make sure the costume includes the telltale red hair on the face, along with a palette and brush – everyone will recognize it!” (ArtsyCraftsyMom)
Studying Van Gogh could give children an opportunity to look at several new techniques in their artwork and create some interesting inspiring pieces.