Marcia Beckett

Flower Paintings by First Grade: Learn about Van Gogh and Hundertwasser

I’m proud of this lesson and how colorful and unique each of these pictures turned out! I like to introduce a bit of art history to the younger kids, but I didn’t want the kids to copy a famous painting.

Artistic Behaviors:

  • Artists develop their own style.
  • Artists create art that honors someone or something.

Skills & Concepts:

  • Discuss the differences and similarities between two artworks of a similar theme.
  • Develop hand/eye coordination through painting and collage.
  • Learn various techniques for painting.

Artist Connections:

  • Freidensreich Hundertwasser
  • Vincent Van Gogh

In the past, I have taught about Vincent Van Gogh’s beautiful sunflower paintings and I have approached the art making in a couple different ways: planting flowers and creating observational paintings (which turned out lovely also) and a more step-by-step painted sunflower collage. This time, I wanted the kids to be inspired by Van Gogh’s flowers, but also understand that each artist has their own style.

While I was on the internet looking at Van Gogh’s sunflowers, I came across this fantastic painting by Hundertwasser which is titled “Hommage a Van Gogh.” We first talked about what is an homage. An homage is

  • respect or honor

  • something that is done to honor someone or something

I showed my first graders both of these paintings and they noticed the similarities and differences. How are they both similar? Obvious answer: they are both a vase of sunflowers. How are they different? They both are painted in their own unique styles. Van Gogh uses thick, bold brushstrokes. Hundertwasser also uses bright, bold colors, but he incorporates a lot of spirals and lines (which is typical of his style). If you want to learn more about Hundertwasser, check out this previous blog post.

These pictures were a multi-step process. I encouraged them throughout the process that they could create sunflowers like the pictures they saw or they could make any flowers they wanted to make.

Flower #1:

I demonstrated the first flower and talked about how I was creating it similar to Hundertwasser’s style with the spirals. Many of the kids used this style, but some used their own. Start by drawing with Crayola Oil Pastels

and then add color with paint daubers

Flower #2:

I saw this technique for stamping petals with a toilet paper tube on Pinterest. I loved the idea of stamping the flower! So, the kids stamped flowers in variety of colors. Then, they painted them in with paint colors of their choice.

Flower #3: One class got ahead of the other and I showed them another way to make flowers, by drawing with washable markers and painting water on top to blend the colors.

Some of the kids made multiples using these different techniques, so when it came time to assemble the flowers they could choose which ones they wanted to use.

The final steps were to create a vase, stems and leaves from construction paper. I didn’t really give them any instruction on how to make the vase or stems, so they just did their own thing. I pre-cut strips of painted papers (painted previously) and they glued those for a border.

We had one “catch-up” day for some of the students to finish assembling everything. The students who were done had the option of adding additional painted designs (mostly dots were chosen.)

Now it’s your turn. Please share in the comments below how you have taught young kids about how artists have different styles. Have you ever taught about Van Gogh or Hundertwasser?

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