Implementation of “We Paint like Vincent Van Gogh” (SOI-GR-409)

Author: Panagiota Bali, Primary School English Teacher

School/Organization: 1st Primary School of Polykastro

The scenario “We Paint like Vincent Van Gogh” (EN-CUR-483), created by Lidija Križanić, offers the opportunity for young students to learn about the life of Vincent van Gogh as well as experiment with his painting technique (impasto) by producing actual paintings imitating the artist’s style.

I worked on the scenario with a group of 10-year-olds who had been asking for a project on art. Since there is no Art teacher in our school this year, I thought it was a great opportunity for my students to paint with tempera and brushes as well as learn about the great artist. Additionally, the scenario was part of their English lesson and hence they practised their English since both the oral and the written production by the students were in English. Finally, we used diverse web 2.0 tools, thus extending the original scenario and promoting computer literacy.

An eager classroom The implementation of the scenario took place in the actual classroom during the English lesson. All activities and presentations were carried out in English in four 45-minute lessons and the pupils worked really hard in four groups of five participants to find the right words to express themselves. One activity required the pupils’ preparation at home (studying three paintings and working on their presentation in class) and one more (expressing feelings on a padlet) was also carried out at home. The scenario was applied to a group of 21 fifth graders (10 years old) which consists of 10 girls and 11 boys. The school is located in a semi-urban area in northern Greece where children have no direct access to Art (museums, art workshops, exhibitions). Although they had Art classes in previous years as part of their curriculum, a large number of pupils had never heard of van Gogh before. All the pupils were familiar with working in groups and collaborating in order to present team results. They were also familiar with the use of certain web 2.0 tools (wordart, searching information and pictures on the internet, answering quizzes and evaluation forms). However, they had no previous knowledge of creating a timeline on Canva or uploading material on a digital board (padlet). They had never heard of digital heritage before and they appreciated the new knowledge they acquired. Some of the pupils wrote poems and made drawings in their free time at home as a way of expressing their feelings about van Gogh. Moreover, the pupils practised the 21st century skills: they collaborated in order to study and present a painting, they communicated since they exchanged views and opinions in English, they applied critical thinking by questioning van Gogh’s life and by making suppositions and they created their own works of art inspired by the artist. Finally, they disseminated the project to the school community as well as to their own families by showing their enthusiasm.

Lesson 1 – Presenting Europeana and van Gogh

a. Introducing the paintings (10’)

First of all, I explained that we were going to learn about van Gogh and his painting technique. We visited the Europeana website and talked about how they felt about the paintings.

b. Who is van Gogh? (25’)

 I used the ppt presentation of the scenario (which I had translated in English) to explore the artist’s life and we watched a relevant video . We also took a virtual tour of the Van Gogh museum.

The van Gogh Museum virtual tour. Photo taken by Panagiota Bali, CC BY

c. Discussion (5’)

The pupils briefly commented on what made the greatest impression on them and expressed opinions about the artist’s life. 

d. Group division (5’)

I divided the pupils into three groups in order for them to study three different paintings (Self-portrait | Europeana , Acacia in Flowers | Europeana, The Cornshocks | Europeana) and present them in class in the next lesson. I explained that they had to focus on the colours and the technique used. The pupils worked on their presentation at home collaborating with their team. The links to the paintings were posted on my blog so that they could be easily accessed.

Lesson 2 – Presentation of the paintings

a. Revision quiz (5’)

We started the second lesson with a quiz I prepared on van Gogh’s life and works of art.

Answering a quiz. Photo taken by Panagiota Bali, CC BY

b. Oral presentation (15’)The three groups of pupils presented what they had studied on the three paintings allocated to them (Self-portrait | Europeana , Acacia in Flowers | Europeana, The Cornshocks | Europeana). They talked about the shades of colour, the impasto technique and the strokes used by the artist.

Presentation of team work. Photo taken by Panagiota Bali, CC BY

c. We study four paintings (20’)

I showed the four paintings and the information about them from the scenario. (Vincent van Gogh: Bademov cvijet, 1890 – Σχέδια Google, Vincent van Gogh: Suncokreti, 1889. – Σχέδια Google

Vincent van Gogh: Žitno polje pod olujnim oblacima, 1890. – Σχέδια Google, Vincent van Gogh: Žitno polje s vranama, 1890. – Σχέδια Google). The information was translated into English. The pupils expressed their feelings and views on what they saw and learned.

d. Preparing to paint (5’)

I asked each pupil to choose one of the paintings previously discussed and explained the task for the next lesson. The pupils who chose these paintings Vincent van Gogh: Bademov cvijet, 1890 – Σχέδια Google, Vincent van Gogh: Suncokreti, 1889. – Σχέδια Google would paint the same motif but with different colours. The pupils who chose these paintings Vincent van Gogh: Žitno polje pod olujnim oblacima, 1890. – Σχέδια Google, Vincent van Gogh: Žitno polje s vranama, 1890. – Σχέδια Google would be inspired by them to create something new. I also asked them to bring tempera, brushes and aquarelle paper.

Lesson 3 – We paint like van Gogh

a. Revision game (2’)

We started the third lesson with the pair-matching game of the scenario

Pair-matching game. Photo taken by Panagiota Bali, CC BY

b. Painting with tempera (40’)

The pupils painted their own paintings following the instructions they got in the previous lesson. The four paintings were constantly projected on the class board.

While painting. Photo taken by Panagiota Bali, CC BY

Lesson 4 – project evaluation

a. Van Gogh’s timeline (20’)The pupils worked on Canva to create Vincent van Gogh’s timeline based on what they learned. They decided on the information they would include by collaboration and discussion.

Van Gogh’s timeline. Photo taken by Panagiota Bali, CC BY

b. Evaluation (15’)

The pupils completed the evaluation form about the project. This part took place in the classroom where there is only one computer and the pupils had to wait for their turn. It would be better if it took place in the school computer room in order to save time. 

Final evaluation. Photo taken by Panagiota Bali, CC BY

c. Presentation of the paintings (10’)

The pupils showed their paintings in class and got feedback from their classmates. The paintings were on display in the classroom for the whole school to see.

Final paintings. Photo taken by Panagiota Bali, CC BY

d. Expressing feelings 

I created a padlet where pupils could post their feelings about van Gogh. The link to the padlet was posted on my blog for easy access since the activity was carried out at home in the pupils’ own time. Some pupils wrote poems, others used wordart and others drew pictures. They all commented on each other’s posts.

A complete success

The learning goals of the project were fully achieved. The pupils practised their English and were fully engaged in the process of learning about art. They got familiar with new web 2.0 tools and expressed their enthusiasm during and after the implementation of the learning scenario. They answered all the quizzes about the artist’s life and works of art correctly and they showed an intense interest in particular aspects of van Gogh’s life. They often talked about his mental illness and showed sympathy and admiration for the artist. They even proposed that we should celebrate van Gogh’s birthday on the 30th of March. They commented on Vincent’s relationship with his brother and asked questions about him. They were so eager to paint that they continued drawing even after the project had finished (their drawings are on the padlet) and they disseminated the project to their families. There were parents requiring information about art lessons in the area for their children after the implementation of the scenario. Both pupils and parents asked for similar projects in the future.

A lot of students expressed the wish to actually visit the van Gogh museum and they all showed an interest in learning about Art in general. As the results of the final evaluation of the project show, the majority of the pupils did not know of van Gogh, but they all learned about him. Also, all of the students answered that they enjoyed the project and the majority was happy with their paintings, which shows that they understood everything we learned about colours, the impasto technique and the strokes while painting.

The scenario requires careful planning so that the pupils are engaged all the time. I needed and took an extra 45-minute lesson, because the final evaluation quiz was mistakenly carried out on one computer and pupils had to wait for their turn to answer. It would be better if we used the computer room for simultaneous access for all the respondents.  Finally, the teacher should carefully look at the material of the scenario, translate it before presenting it in class and make sure that the links are active.

A rich educational source 

The results for me, as an educator, were revealing. The Europeana resources are truly rich and they promote the joy of learning. The site organization is very clear and easy to use. The fact that so much online material is available for educators to use is undoubtedly very important, especially where art projects are concerned. It was made very easy for me to choose the material I wanted and present it clearly to my students. It saved me time and I knew that the material was reliable to use and to teach. However, one has to be careful with the search on the site. Typing the correct key words is very important, otherwise one can easily get lost in all the material offered. On the other hand, I found interesting videos which could also be included in this scenario, but did not want to make it too long for my young learners. Moreover, I realized how important it is to use this reliable website and further the pupils’ knowledge by asking them to produce both digital and actual results. It was an opportunity for me to teach about art in a foreign language and introduce new web 2.0 tools. I learned how much it matters for my pupils to paint and acquire new knowledge about art. The comments I received after the implementation of the scenario both by the pupils and their parents made me feel the importance of European art and digital heritage in the school environment.  The fact that so many people appreciated the project made me look for similar projects which I will implement in the future.

Did you find this story of implementation interesting? Why don’t you read about the related learning scenario? “We Paint like Vincent Van Gogh” (EN-CUR-483), created by Lidija Križanić

Did you find this story of implementation interesting? You might also like: 

Do you want to discover more stories of implementation? Click here.

CC0 1.0: the featured image used to illustrate this article has been found on Europeana and has been provided by the Tartu Art Museum.

Leave a Reply

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial