Friday, June 7, 2013

Super-Speedy Sunflower Still Lifes

My super student teacher (now a proud graduate--congrats, LC!) started this Vincent van Gogh project with the third graders. I have done Vincent's sunflowers before, but it was nice to see how Miss Caruso approached it, particularly in a time crunch, as it was May and our classes were numbered. I like to do this project at the end of the school year 'cause sunflowers just scream SUMMER, HERE I COME!

After talking about VVG and his passion for fashion sunflowers, Miss Caruso had the kids prep their paper, drawing a border around their 9 x 12" white sheet, Phyl style! (Bless you, Phyl, you practical genius.) Then they painted the background using two colors, one on either side of their pre-drawn horizon line.

(This was great timing for our first day of this project--a few minutes were spent to introduce the project, kiddos glossed their coil pots, and then did this background portion.)

On the second day, students entered the art room to find some lovely (fake) sunflowers decorating their tables. These flowers served as inspiration for adding vases and flowers. Miss Caruso did a great demo showing how to twist and turn the brush to manipulate the paint into petals and leaves. Kiddos painted in this order:

1. Paint a vase and give it two values, VVG style:

2. Use a pencil to draw the brown centers of each flower you intend to paint:

3. Use the penciled centers as a guide to show where to paint the petals:

4. Once petals are done, go back and paint those centers (doing it in this order prevents a lot of "AHHH MY PETALS TURNED BROWN" panic attacks on the part of the 9-year-olds)

5. Go to town adding leaves, values, details, and the like!

6. Sit back and admire your work whilst telling your art teacher and student teacher how beautiful they look today amidst the field of sunflowers in the art room:

7. Clean up your mess, wash yo' hands, and tell your art teacher to stop using her iPhone to take pictures of your awesome artwork 'cause the lighting is all kinds of funky with this neon paint.

Anyway, there are 57698234 ways (I counted) to teach about van Gogh's sunflowers--for a quickie, I highly recommend this method. The timeline is fast but the results are fab!


  1. They're beautiful! Thanks for sharing the lesson! :)

  2. Thanks for the shout-out! I'm always glad to know when my oddball hints may be of some help to someone. But wait, did you chop off all those white borders? Where did they go on the finished pieces?

    The sunflowers look great, by the way!

    1. Oooo don't get mad! Yes, I cut them off this time. Most of my kids finished this as part of their last art class so we didn't have time to jazz up the borders at all. And since this was our first time using this method, many of them were quite messy and I felt better cutting them off. I have ideas on how to use them for the future!