Friday, June 6, 2014

Van Gogh

Recently we did a study in the life of Vincent Van Gogh.

This isn't something that's part of a curriculum, but I add it because I likes it. (Mayhaps I like it too much.  Many days I have to resist the urge to throw history and math out the window in favor of doing art projects all day.)

We kept  our study simple.  We used our ever important public library. (ours is just down the street from us!  Jealous?)  I simply picked out a young reader's biography on Van Gogh that was available (we used this one).  For my older daughter, this is pretty easy reading, but still a little challenging.  For the wee-er one - she will not understand or remember everything we read, but I was certainly surprised by how much she DID pick up.  It's really neat to see the different things she holds on to and retains and loves - when i already have a pre-conceived notion that she will only like the paintings of the flowers.

We read it at a rate of two pages a day.  But really pondered the pages, and talked and asked questions about the pictures we saw - so it probably took about 20 minutes of our time.
There was so much we all learned.   I kind of  want to say SO MUCH right here about his life and how I feel about the tragedy of it - and how I yearn for him to have been recognized and loved in his life.  However, I don't want to derail the subject so I'll just say the three of us felt for the guy.  So we did our art project, but it was more than that.  By the time we finished pondering on him for a couple weeks, we had a remembrance of him - and I really got the sense that we were truly honoring him in our own way, and not just doing a super fun art project.  It may be meaningless in practicality, but it had meaning to us.

Firstly, we went outside.  Van Gogh was known for painting outside and using outside colors as his inspiration.  He used mainly blues and yellows towards the end of his life where his more well known work was done.

We put on the bandages.  Teehee.  Of course, the girls didn't like this too much - but I really feel this was an important aspect of the project.  Van Gogh famously cut his ear to give to a (let's say...)lady of the night.  And he wore a bandage like this one after the (let's say...) incident.  This is a harsh reality, true, but also a very prominent part of his life - which is why I chose not to shelter the children from it.  Wearing the bandages made us all think just a little more about what it must have been like to be Vincent.  When people walked by and looked at us oddly, it was only a small portion of what he must have felt.  (Of course, he wasn't two cute girls sitting at a lovely park - he may have endured much more ridicule than an odd look.)

We painted with small strokes.  I told the girls we had to count to 100 strokes (at least).  Van Gogh was known to use small strokes.

And that was pretty much our study of Van Gogh!  We also watched a couple YouTube videos (which I can't find now to give you the links?  Bummer.)

And by the way?  This is my FAVORITE Van Gogh, right up there.  Look at this guy with his happy, curly beard!  I guess it's Van Gogh's mail guy.  Why are there flowers around him?  Get in my closet, navy blue pea coat.   I dunno - I just love it!

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