Sunday, May 17, 2009

Inspired by Art: Van Gogh

I just have to share my favorite homeschool activity that we have done so far. This was such a great activity and my 4 year old LOVED it! I am so happy with how it went... we are definately going to continue this activity with other artists.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine (who is a homeschooling mama) called me from an estate sale. There was a set of 16 Time-Life Library of Arts artist books. She knew I would be interested. The price was $40. That's $2.50 a book. Not a bad price but not a steal either (in my opinion). Another problem - I only had a $20 bill and a few singles on me. We were in the car and the sale was in the direction we were headed. My hubby and I had a few minutes to discuss whether or not it was worth the investment. We hemmed and hawed and finally he suggested seeing if they would take $20 for the set. One problem - I hate to dicker. No sooner had I let those words out of my mouth and the phone rang again. Same friend is on the other end and she says, "Because it's raining, they want to shut the sale down. They'll take $20 for the set." I said, "SOLD!" We drove there immedietly and picked up our set of books! I love it when a friend does the shopping AND the dickering for me!!!

For our first lesson using the books, we studied Vincent Van Gogh. She loved looking at the pictures of him when he was a boy and then again as a man. The picture below is of Van Gogh when he was a year older than I. When I told her that, she said, "He looks much older than you! he looks like a grandpa!"

She loved hearing about what his interests were and discussing with me how she was like Van Gogh and how she was different.

Here are a few of the similarities and differences that she noted:


  • Blue eyes
  • Liked collecting beetles
  • Liked looking for bird's nests
  • Was good at inventing games
  • Loved to read
  • Loved to paint
  • Had a flower garden


  • Boy
  • Red hair
  • Freckles
  • Had younger brothers and sisters
  • Painted naked people (this she found very funny)

Finally, we took one of his paintings that already hung on the wall of her playroom and we looked at all the details in it. The piece is called Field With Cypresses - Champ Aux Cypres. We hypothesized why type of medium she thought he might have used. Her responses were much like this, "I don't think he used markers because the colors aren't bright enough." Without much prodding, she came to the conclusion that he used paints. We looked for the brush strokes throughout the painting and guessed at how he might have created the different parts of the piece. Then she collected what she would need to reproduce a similar painting and set to work to create her own Field of Cypresses. She diligently worked on this until she had her completed work. The pink and purple flowers: She said that a yellow field just isn't as pretty! I love that she was willing to make the picture her own by adding those colorful flowers.

This was such a great activity for my little artist. We will definately be doing more activities like this!


  1. Pretty cool. I am sure 4year old loved this as I know how she loves art.

  2. What a great find! I'm a big fan of garage sales, mainly for arts and craft stuff, knickknacks for the house, toys for the kids, and interesting serving peices. Like you, I'm not good at haggling. What I've learned to do is just use one standard line, as politely as possible: Would you consider going lower on this price? It almost always works.