One of my favourite art projects this time of year is inspired by Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night. Classrooms can be chaotic as we get closer to winter break, but this activity reminds us to look closely while supporting calm, focussed creative expression. It requires very little planning or preparation, and is suitable for kids K-7 (or older!).
First we have a good look at Vincent van Gogh’s Painting. How does he make the stars and moon so shimmery? Can anyone else feel the wind blowing in this painting? Looking closely takes practice, and this painting really draws children in! To tie this art project to the holiday season, we recreate the painting on a holiday styled tree. If you haven’t already played with symmetry in class, this is a great time to introduce the concept! I model, and the kids explore, folding construction paper in half, drawing half the tree along the fold and then cutting out the half tree. When the paper is unfolded, a perfectly symmetrical tree is revealed! With younger students, this alone takes time and patience!
Then we use oil pastels to re create the sense of sparkly motion in the original painting. By looking closely, we can see van Gogh used short strokes to create a feeling a motion. I like to have cardboard art trays on our tables for this project, since oil pastels can be really tough to clean up and this short stroke technique tends to go off the page!
Everything is better with glitter! We add glitter to our completed artwork to really let it shine:
Vincent van Gogh’s life was difficult. Learning about his life can be sensitive with younger students during an artist study. If you are looking for great age-appropriate resources to explore the life and art of Vincent van Gogh, I highly recommend these books:
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