I think it's very important for students to have a well-rounded experience in school. Art is such a big component of that. We learn how to be creative by studying the works of artists and it's also a way to look at trends in history and study the past. Van Gogh is one of my favorite artists (cliche I know!). I really feel for artists that never knew success in their lifetime. Did you know his mother never even embraced his talents and actually burned the paintings he had given her after he died? And it amazes me that they are still uncovering details about his death-that he may not have even killed himself but had covered up for some boys that always gave him a hard time. The historians now think they may have killed him. The reason we even know so much about him is from his letters to his brother Theo-another reason I think letter writing should still be considered an art form.
Anyway, I introduced the kiddos to his paintings-his self-portraits, the flowers, the empty room. Then I showed them Starry Night and asked them to talk with a partner about what it made them feel, what they saw in it. Then we painted our own version of the painting-I gave them yellow, blue and brown paint on their palettes. Now I know we ended up with a lot of green in our version, but the kids are enamored right now with mixing colors and you know me, I tell them they are the artist. After we painted I asked them to imagine life in a Van Gogh painting-what would it feel like, what would you see, hear? What would be good or bad about that life?
Here is what they came up with: