Elementary Van Gogh Paintings

Elementary Art Classes Van Gogh Paintings

We pulled out our easels and brightened up The Studio this week with our Van Gogh style sunflower acrylic paintings.


Art Studio

Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh was born in Holland in 1853. He had two bothers and three sisters.  He was closest to his younger brother, Theo. Vincent loved to draw as a child and by the time he was 27 years old, he devoted his whole life to painting.

When Vincent first began painting, he painted images from his surroundings, which were a bit gloomy. He used dark, sad colors.

When he moved to Paris he noticed the work of the famous Impressionist painters like Renoir and their use of bright, unmixed colors.  Artists were placing opposing colors next to each other to bring out their intensity. Yellow would be painted next to purple, reds next to greens, etc.

Van Gogh started using brighter colors and painting with short brushstrokes.   He was part of a group of painters called Post-Impressionists.

He painted hundreds of pictures, sometimes finishing a single painting in a day. But then he became unwell and he moved into a hospital so others could take care of him.   Van Gogh painted seriously for about 9 years and painted almost 900 paintings. Sadly he only sold one painting before he died at age 37.  He died in 1890.

We looked at Van Gogh’s Sunflowers

Yellow was the color of happiness for Van Gogh.  Sunflowers was painted during a rare period of excited optimism, while Van Gogh awaited the arrival of his hero, the avant-garde painter Paul Gauguin.  The painting was intended to impress Gauguin and was a gesture of friendship.

Sunflowers, 1888, Oil on Canvas, Post-
Impressionism, National Gallery of London

Our Sunflower Paintings in a Van Gogh Style

We started our project last week by drawing our own versions of this famous painting by Van Gogh.  We looked at the painting and at details in some silk sunflowers that decorated our easels. We then transferred our drawings to a stretch canvas and painted our Sunflowers in a Van Gogh style.

Painting Like Van Gogh

Van Gogh used short, choppy brush strokes to apply colors to his canvas. His idea was to place his colors on the canvas and allow the eye to blend the colors.  To do this, scoop up a color you like and paint a few horizontal strokes on the paper. Then, pick a color that closely matches the first color and paint in the same way.  Repeat

By Katie, Age 9
The Gritty Details of our Painting Steps

This was a big project for the kids and pushed most of them out of their comfort zones as we were standing at easels to paint for the first time and this was a very involved painting.   They did great and were very impressed with their accomplishments.  I can’t share all of the images as some were sent home wrapped in paper as Christmas Presents but here is a peak at a few that the kids were happy to share!







More Gritty Details of our Painting Steps:  If you really want to know what was involved read the following!

1.    Paint the background – Dab paintbrushes in white and lemon yellow.  We talked out not mixing the two pigments together and leaving traces of pure pigment in the mixture.  We did this by loading paint onto the brush and painting two horizontal lines and two vertical lines.  Flip and do the same with paint on back of brush.  Fill in the background.
2.    Paint the table – We added burnt sienna to our palette and warm yellow to paint the table.   We painted the table in the same manner adding longer strokes to make it look like wood.
3.    Paint the vase – We added orange to our palette and painted the upper part of the vase using medium yellow and orange, mixing in some burnt sienna toward the edges to make the vase look curved.  We painted the lower part of the vase with lemon yellow, medium yellow, and white again mixing in some burnt sienna toward the edges to make the vase look curved.  We dabbed white highlights on the vase.
4.    Paint large flower-  We added red and burnt umber and painted the petals by dipping paint brush in one color and then into another color.   We painted inside of the petals with medium yellow and lemon yellow, the edges with a dab of red.  We added some burnt sienna to the petal that was closest to the center.  Add a mixture of white and medium yellow highlights with a palette knife.  Center of flowers were painted with burnt umber and medium yellow.  Highlight with white and medium yellow.  Optional to add a dab of cerulean blue.
5.    Paint round flowers:  Using the palette knife we picked up medium yellow and a dab of red and painted in a circular pattern with light strokes pulling outward from the center of each blossom.
6.    Paint the leaves:  We add green and painted the leaves by starting with the outside of the leaves and a dab of burnt umber and green on the brush.  Paint the outside of the leaves then using the same dirty brush, dip into yellow and paint inside of the leaves.  We painted the stems in the same manner.
7.    Optional – we traced over the flower petals of the big flower with burnt sienna.
8.    Lastly we signed our paintings.


Thank you for sharing your student with me and have a very Merry Christmas,




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