It seemed a little obvious to me to have the second graders do Van Gogh's Starry Night, but it is a part of their print curriculum, so I went with it anyway. And the more I thought about it- I realized that skipping this one just because it's "overdone" would be like skipping subtraction in math or not mentioning George Washington in social studies. I've decided that if the kids learn nothing else during their time with me, I want them to know enough to at least answer the art questions on Jeopardy. My husband tells me we should know enough about any subject to hold a five minute conversation with anyone. So there you go... if someone mentions Van Gogh in their future, they can rattle off all they know about Starry Night and sound intelligent!
We started off our time together by watching a short video. This is the only video I have shown any of them over five minutes, but when I mentioned Vincent Van Gogh, the kids looked at me like I was speaking a different language. I found a cartoon that put the characters into Van Gogh's paintings. It was very informative and pretty funny, too. Unfortunately, though, the kids weren't having it! They squirmed around the whole time and showed no interest. I was really bummed, but now I know. I think the problem is that they come to art class ready to do something hands on and use materials and tools they haven't used all day (doesn't help, either, that second grade is at the very end of the day).
So after the video I held up some Van Gogh's and I asked them to tell me some recurring things they saw in all of his work. They came up with certain colors like blue and yellow, most of his stuff was of the outdoors, and his paintings didn't look smooth, but bumpy because of his brushstrokes.
To start out project, I gave them a piece of dark blue construction and a white crayon to sketch things out first. I went to the white board and walked through each part of the painting, starting with the horizon line and ending with the village. The village gave them good practice with geometric forms, too.
For the second day, I gave them oil pastels and showed them how to use them to create the same texture as Van Gogh's paintings, emphasizing blending, but not smoothing. Lastly, I wanted to add just a little something original, so we used yarn to create the infamous cypress tree. We drew it with glue then placed the brown yarn on top. This was especially good for my one student that is visually impaired. She struggles to see 2-D media, so having something she could FEEL was really cool for her.
I can't wait to come up with a new way to do this painting each year. I saw some really cool 3D representations after we did this one. Always next year to get it right... Or more right!