Today we will be introducing you to Vincent Van Gogh, the artistic genius who though not appreciated in his day, is now one of the most famous and recognisable artists in history. We will then create a sunflowers artwork with our preschoolers reminiscent of one of his most famous paintings. We will then end with encouraging you to plant your own sunflowers, giving you some easy tips for you and your children to get planting.
Vincent Van Gogh (Dutch, 1853-1890)
- Though he was not appreciated in his time, he is now one of the most famous Post-Impressionist painters and arguably in history to date.
- Over his lifetime he produced a huge amount of work. 900+ paintings and drawings, not to mention watercolours, lithographs and etchings.
- He did all these in just over one decade!
- Though many claim he only sold one painting in his lifetime, this is actually untrue. The Van Gogh Museum in the Netherlands names a few. He had multiple commissions from his Uncle Cor (who was an art dealer), he sold a painting to Julien Tanguy (a Parisian art dealer), his brother Theo sold one of his paintings to a London gallery and The Red Vineyard, 1888 was purchased by Anna Boch, sister of Eugène Boch (Vincent’s friend).
- So much is known about Van Gogh because of his 800 letters that he wrote over this short life to his friends and family. In particular Theo Van Gogh, his brother.
- His paintings are loved for their emotional and expressive use of colour and lines. The paint is applied thickly, giving more to the viewer’s eye when studying a piece.
- He painted five large sunflower canvases in Arles, in the south of France from 1888-1889. In correspondence he talks of the flower signifying gratitude. When his friend and fellow painter Paul Gaugin came to stay he hung two of these sunflower canvases in his room. Gaugin loved them and described them being, ‘completely Vincent.’
- It is widely accepted that Vincent chopped off the lobe part of his ear after an argument with Gaugin. Another theory has been put forward by two German historians that this was just an elaborate story they both made up from an unfortunate fencing match between the two. Either way, Vincent painted himself with his bandage in, Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear, 1889 Courtauld Gallery, London.
- Becoming one of the most famous painters in history can be attributed to Theo’s wife, Johanna, his sister-in-law who tirelessly pushed his legacy forward after his death by collecting all his paintings.
- Vincent’s most famous paintings were done during his time in the mental asylum in Saint-Remy-de-Provence.
For your sunflower collage
What you will need:
- White card
- Cardboard egg carton
- Yellow paint/crayon/pens
- Chocolate flavoured cereal (we used chocolate hoops)
- Brown tissue paper
- Kraft paper
- Piper cleaners (green)
- Cut your brown packaging kraft paper to fit 1/4 of your page and glue to align with the bottom of the paper.
- Next draw a vase or pot on that kraft paper and stick brown tissue paper to it, making sure to cover it completely.
- Now cut three or four egg carton sections out. Cut the sides vertically down to the bottom circular part. These represent the sunflower petals. Repeat on all egg cartons.
- With your yellow paint/crayon/pens colour the cut egg cartons. Set aside.
- With our pipe cleaners, stick them down to the paper so they touch the top of the vase. Try and make them all different lengths.
- With your glue stick each separate egg carton on to the top of the pipe cleaners.
- Apply some glue to the inside of your egg cartons and sprinkle some of your chocolate cereal on to it.
- Stand back and admire your very own 3D Van Gogh Sunflower artwork!
Planting Sunflowers with your Children
Planting sunflowers with children is an easy and rewarding experience. They will love seeing how tall they grow, some varieties will even grow higher than them! There are hundreds of varieties of sunflower, ranging in height, head size and colour. They should be planted in warm weather and can either be planted straight into prepared soil or into pots. We suggest you plant them into pots as it gives your children a sense of pride of each having their very own sunflowers.
What you will need:
- Medium size pots
- Sunflower seeds
- Watering can
- Put a trowel full of soil into your pot.
- Then place one of two sunflower seeds into the middle. How many will depend on what variety you have chosen. Read the advice on your seed packets.
- Fill your pot will more soil and pat down gently. Put enough soil in so that it covers three-quarters of the pot.
- Water. Enough to make it all moist but not overflowing.
- Leave to grow! Water again when the top layer of soil is dry. This will depend on how hot it is outside.
Grace Selous Bull is an arts education author and freelance blogger. Her book, ‘Potty About Pots: arts and crafts for home and school’ is aimed at children from 5-12 years old and takes them through a journey of ceramics through time. Her blog, The Rainbow Tree, explores all aspects of arts and crafts, and is aimed at children of all ages. She is a full time Mummy of two girls, both of whom love being creative, and is married to her husband, Andrew, who does not. Follow her on twitter.
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