Meet the Masters: Learning About Vincent Van Gough

Yesterday we had a busy 4th of July, much of it spent driving to and fro (in between gobbling lots of hot dogs).  So today, we just wanted to relax around the house and work on artistic projects.

Things began smoothly.  I was using some old curriculum that had been ignored on the shelf for far too long.  It’s a progrma called “Meet the Masters.”  It explores the life and work of seven classical painters, starting with Vincent Van Gough.  So, the girls and I read a little bit about his life.  The information from the “Meet the Masters” book provides the basics of Vincent’s biography.  But since the book is geared toward 7 – 10 year olds, it doesn’t go into detail.  So, not being satisfied, I explored further.

YouTube is a great resource, but you want to be mindful of the content that lurks online.  For example, someone has made a crude animated cartoon about Van Gough’s severed ear hopping through an art gallery.  Not appropriate — and not funny.  I screened that one, and of course did not show it to the kids.

However, I didn’t make a slight mistake and I showed them something that I didn’t entirely screen.  YouTube has a ten-minute version of A&E biogrpahy — and I watched the first five minutes, and gaged the material as appropriate for my children.  Then, during the last five minutes, the video talked about Van Gough’s madness as a byproduct of his venereal diseases.  Ooops — too much information!

But I did find a great little clip from a 1956 biographic film starring Kirk Douglas and Anthony Quinn (playing Van Gough and Cesanne respectively.)  It’s just ten minutes, and it shows how enthusiastic Van Gough was about his art. Here’s the link:

After reading and viewing the material, we finally got to the best part: Artwork!

The girls and I used pastels and black construction paper to create our own versions of “Starry, Starry Night.” Sure, they don’t come close to the master — but it’s fun to try!