Wednesday, September 13, 2017

"The Starry Night" Simplified Art Lesson

Using Vincent Van Gogh's "The Starry Night" as inspiration students will create their own experimental watercolor version.

My students are learning about Van Gogh this year and I wanted a fun project to get the year started inspired by "The Starry Night" - one of the most famous and well liked paintings in the world.

Using Watercolor washes and wet into wet, oil pastel, alcohol and salt resist students will make their own version of the sky from the painting.

You will need:
Liquid Watercolor in dark blue and purple
Watercolor paper
Water and brushes
Oil Pastels 
Isopropyl alcohol
droppers or Q-tips

I am going to discuss Van Gogh and his work with the students and in particular this painting.
This is a great painting to discuss warm and cool colors, energy in art, an artist's style, post impressionism, active/still, abstract/realistic, mood etc...

I'll demonstrate sketching an easy composition.
They can begin by lightly sketching the moon, stars, clouds and the horizon line.
If they choose to add the cypress or other details that's fine.  I'm just going to let them do what they want - as long as it's inspired by "The Starry Night"
Next add the oil pastel over the sketch and wherever else they want.
After they finish with the oil pastels I'll demonstrate the next step.
Using the dark blue watercolor with lots of water do a wash over the entire painting - so it's quite diluted. 

The Oil pastel resists the watercolor.
Add more of the blue in the painting, but this time don't add any water so it's darker.
Use big brushstrokes in the same style as the oil pastels to reinforce the energy in the painting.
Imagine being Van Gogh - is this how he would do it?
Working quickly so the paper doesn't dry add some purple brushstrokes as well.
Next add the alcohol in the areas you want to lighten.
This is right after I added the alcohol and a little bit of salt.
I want the salt to suggest other smaller stars so just used a little.
I like the way the alcohol makes the stars look like they are glowing in the night sky.

This is primarily an experiment with watercolor.
Students don't need any drawing ability so pretty much any age or ability level will enjoy this lesson.
As the painting dries the salt and the alcohol really react.
It's kind of like magic and a lot of fun, but also you're giving the students a few new tools to add to their art repertoire and the opportunity to simply explore in a loose manner.  
I'm going to have them sign it with their first name followed by Van Gogh : )

1 comment:

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