“I dream my paintings, then I paint my dreams” – Vincent Van Gogh
Van Gogh’s popular oil painting, Starry Night, is one of his most dream-like paintings – Gogh said himself, “Looking at the stars always makes me dream”. The movement and turbulence of his brushstrokes reflect the fascination he had with the night, which he described as being “much more alive and richly colored than the day.”¹ These elements also make it an interesting painting to recreate for young artists, even toddlers!
Prior to visiting the latest Vincent Van Gogh exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, I thought we’d get hands on with our introduction to this great artist. Here are two simple ways we explored art history by recreating some of his most popular paintings.
Starry Night, Vincent Van Gogh
At our last trip to the NGV (which is never complete without a stroll through the gift shop), I picked up this set of 30 Usborne cards, each of a different famous painting and including interesting details about it. I’m not normally one for “flash cards” as a means of educating but these were hard to go past! We’ve had a lot of fun searching for little details in each painting and, in this project, were able to use the Starry Night card as a reference for our recreation.
Paper plate sunflowers, Vincent Van Gogh
Aren’t bright yellow flowers just the happiest of blooms? No wonder Van Gogh loved them!
Our version of Van Gogh’s sunflowers combine a few of our favourite crafty processes:
- paper collage art,
- scissor practice,
- bubble wrap printing, and
- imaginative paper plate transformations!
Paper collage petals: Simply make cuts around the edge of a paper plate to resemble the petals of a flower, then paste pieces of yellow paper around the edges. Glue or tape the flower onto a green craft stick stem and then you are ready for the fun part!
Bubble wrap printing: Cut a piece of bubble wrap into the shape of a circle, the same size as the centre of your sunflower. paint over the bumpy side with black paint, then press it down onto your sunflower and pop away! We got a little carried away popping bubbles so ours turned out messy, but that was half the fun.
There are so many other well known and wonderful works of art, and distinctive techniques, that would be fun to imitate – think Henri Matisse-inspired paper collages, Jackson Pollock’s drip and splatter paintings, and Picasso’s cubist style portraits. We’re going to try to do one a week so stay tuned as we build up our collection!
¹ Vincent van Gogh, Letter to his brother Theo van Gogh, 8/10/1888, http://vangoghletters.org/vg/letters/let676/letter.html