Friday, November 15, 2013

Painting like Monet and van Gogh

Painting like Van gogh
“Are you going to be Monet...or van Gogh?” This is the question I pose to my students before we start a popular painting project.  I created this project a few years ago for my freshmen because we needed to bump up our Art History knowledge.  I’ve always been fascinated by the turn painting took when the Impressionists came along... 
Claude Monet 

and equally fascinated by how the Post Impressionists took that new idea in so many different directions.  
Vincent van Gogh
(It is so hard for me NOT to capitalize
that V!)  

Some art historians lump van Gogh with the Impressionists, but I tend to agree with the ones who put him more in the Post Impressionist camp.  
And so...a project was born.

Painting like Monet
I start by giving students a little background on what the art world was like before Monet and his crew came along.  We don’t go into great detail, but just talk about how there were “rules” for being a painter according to the French Academy and Claude Monet didn’t want to follow those rules, so he and a group of other painters made up some new ways of painting.  I show this video and we discuss what a big shake up this was, even though they did not get a lot of respect at first (as often happens when someone is trying to do something new.)  We look at a lot of Monet’s paintings and talk about how he used light, brushstrokes, etc...

Then we turn to Vincent van Gogh and I show this video (just the beginning because its long) and this one (just for fun.) 
We talk about how he took what he saw from the Impressionist paintings and did his own thing with it (Post Impressionism.)  We look at several of his works and pay attention (once again) to the way he uses color, brushstrokes, and pattern.
Painting like Monet

Then it is time for students to choose.  Are they going to be Monet...or van Gogh?  I ask them to choose a photo that they are going to reinterpret as an Impressionist or Post Impressionist painting and we begin.

I give a short demo on how to manipulate the paint .......

and after sketching their subject in pencil, off they go! 
 Most students find its much easier than they thought.  
They start to see all of the the colors they can bring in to a subject and are thrilled with the results when they do so. 

Its always fun for me to help them bring their natural abilities to life.  

So which are you going to be...Monet or van Gogh?
Painting like van Gogh

Happy Painting!