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art class ~ van gogh

“If you hear a voice within you say, ‘You cannot paint,’
then by all means paint and that voice in your head will be silenced.”
Vincent Van Gogh

Because yesterday was Star Wars Day, I decided to take the day off from History and do something a little different.  I decided to do an art class.

I was inspired by Star Wars to do a lesson on Van Gogh, particularly his ‘Starry Night’ piece.  Vincent Van Gogh is a post-impressionist (1886-1914) painter.  His early paintings were mostly based on a dark colour palette, while his later works, following his introduction to the paintings of impressionist artists (1867-1886), were brighter.

Impressionism is just what it implies.  It is not meant to be a realistic reproduction of an image, but a general impression or interpretation of a scene or object using primary colours (usually unmixed) and small, quick strokes or dots to develop light, colour, movement and texture.

We watched this mesmerizing video.

We then learned a little about his often troubled background and looked at a few of his other pieces of art.  We talked about the movement and texture of Van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’ and his use of short strokes to achieve this.  We discussed ways of incorporating pop culture (Star Wars) into this historic piece and whether we would mimic the original or just use it as inspiration.

Pinterest had all kinds of artwork in the same vein as our vision, so we looked at various approaches taken by others.  My df girl decided to more closely follow Van Gogh’s form and style, while my cl boy was not wanting to paint so much as draw.  I convinced him to try.  He and I had a similar thought in that we would use Darth Vader as a replacement for the dark object in the foreground of ‘Starry Night’ and the Death Star in place of the moon.  He kept his simple, (mostly because impressionism is time consuming, I’m sure) adding colour to the black and later painting the background grey.  Unlike Van Gogh, he much prefers drawing to painting.  This activity really took him out of his comfort zone, and it took him probably twenty minutes to get started.  My df girl loved this project and was very pleased with the vibe of her finished product.

We used a few basic acrylic colours with basic round brushes on an inexpensive hardboard canvas from the dollar store.  It was a fun diversion from our regular history lesson!


I’ve truly missed our unit study and lap book days where I’d put together a lesson on a subject with a variety of materials.  Anything, even a just-for-fun day like Star Wars Day can be a springboard to learning something new! Just have fun with it!  As my last two hit homeschool milestones, I am reminded that the days may indeed be long, but the years are short!

Are you interested in doing your own Van Gogh art lesson?  Do you need more ideas?  Here are some links, a few of which I incorporated into my lesson.  There are, of course, a plethora of useful sites and books on Van Gogh and impressionism.  Make your lesson as simple as you’d like, or take a whole week (month?) to study Van Gogh or impressionism.



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#breakthrulinkup 35 at Breakthrough Homeschooling


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