Expressing ourselves with Van Gogh's "Sunflowers" Year 1/2 Art Club

Lesson: Art and design

The Year 1/2 Art Club enjoyed finding out about Van Gogh and his iconic work the "Sunflowers" in an Epressionist style," they enjoyed using textured paint to recreate their own versions.  We hope you like them!

  • Occupation: Artist, Painter
  • Born: March 30, 1853 in Zundert, Netherlands
  • Died: July 29, 1890 in Auvers-sur-Oise, France age 37
  • Famous works: Starry Night, The Bedroom, Irises, Sunflowers
  • Style/Period: Post-impressionist, Modern Art


Where did Vincent van Gogh grow up?

Vincent van Gogh was born in the Netherlands in 1853. His father and grandfather were ministers, but others in his family worked in the art world. Vincent had two brothers and three sisters. He was closest to his younger brother Theo.

Although he enjoyed drawing from the time he was a young boy, Vincent had a number of other jobs before he decided to work as an artist full time. He worked as a teacher in London and then as a minister. He also worked in a book store, an art gallery, and as a missionary. At around the age of 27, van Gogh decided to devote himself completely to art.

Early Years

When Vincent first started drawing he sketched pictures using pencils or charcoal sticks. He used some watercolours as well. He liked to draw pictures of poor hardworking people. Eventually he began to paint using oil paints.

In this early part of his career, van Gogh used a lot of dark colours such as browns and dark greens. His pictures were often sombre or sad. His most famous early painting was called The Potato Eaters. It was a dark picture of a peasant family eating potatoes for dinner.

Van Gogh's Potato Eaters Early Painting
The Potato Eaters - Click for larger view

Letters to His Brother

Much of what we know about van Gogh comes from letters he wrote to his brother Theo. Theo worked in an art gallery in Paris and supported Vincent's art career. He sent Vincent money and encouraged him. Theo tried to sell Vincent's paintings, but no one wanted to buy them.

Years in Paris

Theo wrote to Vincent to tell him about a new style of painting in Paris called Impressionism. In 1886 Vincent moved to Paris to learn from these new painters. His art became influenced by painters such as Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and Camille Pissarro. He also became good friends with artist Paul Gauguin.

During this time van Gogh began to use brighter colours. His brushwork also became more broken. He painted subjects from the streets and cafes of Paris as well as the countryside. Van Gogh also became interested in painting portraits of people. When he couldn't find models, he would paint himself for practice. He painted over twenty self portraits during this time.

Small portrait of Van Gogh
Self Portrait of van Gogh - click to enlarge

Arles, France

In 1888 van Gogh moved south to Arles, France to start up an artist's commune. He rented out a yellow house to live in and invited artist Paul Gauguin to join him. He loved the vibrant colours and the bright sun of Arles.

Van Gogh began painting with intensity and emotion. The colours in his paintings became more vibrant and bright. He would sometimes apply the paint directly onto the canvas from the tubes leaving the paint thick with rough brush strokes. Sometimes it would take weeks for his paintings to dry because the paint was so thick.

Try this film link for more information:

About Van Gogh






St Margaret Mary's R.C. Primary School

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