This Week's Party in the Art Room: Sunflowers and Van Gogh

My classes have still been studying Vincent van Gogh. We've had some interruptions (fourth grade play practice, fifth grade paper-making artist visit, etc.). All good interruptions, but we are still trying to finish up the van Gogh study.

You can read the first post of This Week's Party in the Art Room about our van Gogh unit.

This week I'd like to share some of second grade's sunflowers. Normally, I would teach van Gogh's Sunflowers using one of these popular works.

These are easily some of van Gogh's most recognizable works. I'm pretty sure I bought a poster of the middle one at Wal-Mart when I was in fifth grade. If you can get it at Wal-Mart, it must be popular! 

Anyway, I had a baby at the end of August and missed three months of school. So, I have not been teaching my second graders as long as the other students. For instance, because I teach students from second through fifth grade at my school, I end up teaching them for four years by the time they leave fifth grade. This year, though, I've only had my second graders for about three months. So, I decided to focus on this lesser known sunflower work by van Gogh.

It is a bit darker. We discussed the differences in the more popular sunflowers and this one. I wanted them to focus on one flower for the art-making. I felt that, on the whole, we weren't yet ready for all of the overlapping it would take to create a vase with several.

We decided to use brighter colors than van Gogh's single sunflower. Their favorite part has been the bit of silver glitter tempera they layer into the background. Kids love anything with glitter. We used the double-loading brush technique that Deep Space Sparkle has made popular.  I modeled how to paint with dashes, instead of the long brush strokes they are used to. This is hard for them. I'm asking them to do something that is just about the complete opposite of what they have been taught previously. So, it takes a lot of encouragement on my end. And modeling. I've modeled this in every format that I can think of. I've use the marker board to draw the dashes that would represent the brush strokes. I've done it on paper with small groups. I've videoed myself doing it. I've shown the Deep Space Sparkle video. On and on and on.

Yes, lots of modeling. It is totally worth it though. I love how these are turning out!

So, without further delay, here are some of the sunflowers we've painted so far.

Now, last year, I needed something for my fourth graders to do that we would be able to finish quickly. We did this same lesson. I definitely like this lesson for second graders better than for fourth graders. However, it did work well as something that could be finished quickly for the fourth graders. I thought I'd show some of the fourth graders' work here too. You can see a difference in the skill level, I think. When I did this with fourth grade, I used a video from Art with Joy. I only showed the very first part on how to draw the sunflower. I think I'd like to make my own "how to draw" video for this lesson in the near future (or at least by the next time I teach this). Oh, and I have a word of advice for drawing these: Let the students practice on scratch paper first. They probably have preconceived ideas about how to draw flowers. You will have to give them time to move past those!