VanGogh and the Sunflowers by Laurence Anholt is a wonderful story to introduce children to Vincent Van Gogh. The story is supposedly based on an actual encounter the artist had with a boy, Camille, and his family. When Van Gogh moves into town, Camille befriends the artist. Van Gogh paints portraits of each member in the family, but the children at school laugh and tease Vincent (and Camille) about how strange the paintings look. Camille is very saddened by how the children and people of the community treat Vincent. The book is wonderful in opening up conversation about how to treat others. Granted, there is a sad moment or two, but the author ends the book on a positive note. Unfortunately, if you have read much about Van Gogh’s life, you know it was rather tragic. The book, however, does not deal with the those things. In my humble opinion, it is a great introductory book to Vincent Van Gogh. I have only read this book from the series, but there are many others in the Anholt’s Artists Books for Children which are highly recommended as well.
There are many resources on the web to share paintings and other information with your child. The Van Gogh Museum is located in Amsterdam. At the website you can find biographical information to share with your child. My favorite facts to share with children about Van Gogh include that he only painted for ten years and he was not famous during his lifetime.
- Tempera paint
- Texture tools (like a plastic fork, Q-tip, end of the paintbrush, etc.)
1. Share the series of sunflower paintings Vincent Van Gogh created. If you don’t have access to a book with his paintings, you can find some at the Van Gogh Gallery here. Have your child sketch sunflowers (if they are interested) or whatever they choose for their painting.
2. Share with your child that Vincent Van Gogh applied several layers of paint to achieve a thick texture in his paintings. We just did one layer of paint, but we thickened tempera paint by mixing in small amounts of flour until the desired texture was reached.
3. Paint over the sketch. Using a fork and/or the end of the paintbrush, swirl designs into the paint. Allow to dry thoroughly.
When doing art with children (as opposed to crafts — and I do think there is a difference!), I like to step back and let them create however they choose. The girls were so excited with their masterpieces today!