Van Gogh studies

We have been learning about Van Gogh this week and studying his painting of the “Bedroom in Arles.”

For his biography, I picked up a great resource at our book fair– Van Gogh: My Sticker Art Gallery. His pieces of art are stickers that can be added to the gallery spread telling about that period of the artist’s life.

Gallery Spread for Van Gogh's early life
Van Gogh Gallery Stickers

I emphasized three facts about Van Gogh this week: he grew up in Holland; his little brother and best friend’s name was Theo; he liked to paint poor, hard workers. We also did a picture study of Van Gogh’s “Potato Eaters” painting. In other words, we looked at the hands of the workers and described them; looked at the room and the lighting and discussed what that told us about the people; looked at their meal and discussed why they were eating potatoes.

For our picture study of the “Bedroom,” I had two main activities. First, the kids colored pictures of the “Bedroom,” noticing colors and details. I had read about the painting earlier in my prep and brought out a few key ideas, like the fact that he painted with colors he liked (rather than the actual colors that he saw), colors that reflected the mood of his room–peaceful and happy.

Four year old's work is on the left; two year old's work is on the right.

They both did an awesome job with this, much better than I even anticipated. My four year old especially enjoyed this activity; it really appealed to his detailed personality.

Our second aspect of the study was from Spot the Differences Art Masterpieces. In this activity, the kids compared the original piece to a “fraud.” I really liked how this activity is subtly training them what to look for in a picture. For instance, the colors of the details and the personality of the artist (simplistic and very orderly vs. messy or disordered)–simple concepts right on their level.

We are really having a blast! Next week, we’ll continue with the study of this painting and an activity to make their own bedroom art.