Before beginning this craft, discuss Van Gogh and Impressionism art. Explain the Impressionistic style of painting and how Impressionist artists mixed their paints on the canvas, rather than on a separate palette. Show examples of Van Gogh’s masterpieces, as well as his Sunflower paintings, which can be found at the Van Gogh Museum website or the Vincent Van Gogh section of the National Gallery website.
To incorporate writing into this activity, encourage students to describe Van Gogh’s use of color or his technique.
What You Need
- Examples of Van Gogh’s masterpieces, available on the Van Gogh Museum website or The National Gallery website
- 16-inch by 22-inch white construction paper, one sheet per student
- Paper plates for palettes, two per student
- Blue, red, yellow, and white tempera paint
- 6-inch by 4-inch white construction paper, one sheet per student
- Assorted magazines
- Green construction paper in a variety of shades, at least one sheet per student
- Tissue paper in warm colors, such as red, yellow, orange, and brown
- 18-inch by 24-inch black construction paper, one sheet per student
What You Do
Part 1: Creating the Wall, or Background, of the Painting
- Have the students use pencils to draw a horizontal line about two-thirds of the way down the vertically oriented 16-inch by 22-inch piece of white construction paper. This will indicate where the top of the table is.
- For each student, pour small amounts of white, yellow, and blue tempera paint onto a paper plate.
- Have the students dip a paintbrush first in the white paint and then in the yellow, and then paint the construction paper canvas above the pencil line. Encourage your students to use Van Gogh-like strokes: add small dabs of paint.
- While the white and yellow paint is still wet on the paper, have your students dip their paintbrushes in a small amount of blue paint and apply it to the canvas to make green hues.
- The students should repeat steps 3 and 4 until the top half of the canvas is filled in.
Part 2: Adding the Table to the Painting
- The students should wash their paintbrushes from Part 1.
- For each student, pour small amounts of red, yellow, and blue paint on a clean paper plate.
- Have your students dip their paintbrushes in red paint, then in yellow paint, and then in a bit of blue paint. Have them use Van Gogh-like strokes to dab the paint on the bottom third of the canvas, mixing the colors as they go, to create a brown table.
- Once the bottom third of the canvas is filled in, set the canvases aside to dry.
Part 3: Creating the Mosaic Vase
- Have your students use a pencil to draw the outline of a vase on the 6-inch by 4-inch white construction paper. Your students should then turn the paper over so they can see the impressed outline, but not the pencil line. Note: Younger students may need a pattern for this section.
- Have your students flip through the magazines and tear out small pieces of pages that feature browns and yellows.
- Help your students glue the brown and yellow pieces to the 6-inch by 4-inch white construction paper in a scattered, mosaic-like pattern. They should be using the clean side of the construction paper so they do not glue over the pencil outline of the vase.
- When the shape on the white construction paper is covered, set it aside to dry.
- Once the glue is completely dry, have your students turn the paper over again so they can see their pencil outline.
- Have your students cut along the pencil line so they are left with a cutout of the vase shape.
- Help your students glue their vases onto the table in the painted canvas so the brown and yellow mosaic side is visible, as shown.
Part 4: Adding the Sunflowers
- Have your students use scissors to cut stems, leaves, and star-shaped sunflower pods from the green construction paper.
- The students should then cut sunflower shapes from the colored tissue paper in any colors they choose.
- Help your students assemble the sunflowers on their painted canvases by first gluing the stems, leaves, and star-shaped sunflower pods onto the painted canvas.
- Next, the students should glue the tissue paper sunflower shapes to the pods.
- To create centers for the sunflowers, have your students crumple up scraps of tissue paper. They should try to keep the flowers in 3-D, rather than flatten out the tissue paper.
- Set the completed canvases aside to dry.
Part 5: Framing the Masterpiece
You can help your students glue their finished canvases onto the large sheets of black construction paper to create black frames for their paintings.