Vincent Van Gogh: Sunflowers

The artist Vincent Van Gogh has provided us art teachers with a wealth of styles and techniques.

I had many great aspirations to have the students create sunflowers with actual seeds, black beans, etc. But when I thought about it, I decided to work with oil pastels because the rich color and texture would mesh well with Van Gogh's Impressionist style.

I went out and bought a big, beautiful sunflower so we would have an actual still-life to work with. And of course, what is a Van Gogh lesson without the students asking if he really cut off his ear..and was he really crazy?

So I always tell them...he only cut off the lobe...and yes, he was really crazy.

How else would be have created such works of art? Surely a sane mind couldn't produce quite the same caliber of work.

We artists, we're crazy! Teehee

  • This is a lesson that takes almost zero preparation, but yields a great result.
  • As always, show students examples of the artists' body of work, so they have a grasp of what the artist is about. I have several large Van Gogh books that were passed down to me by my uncle, who was a modern art lover as well.
  • I set up a still life with the giant sunflower in a humble little vase and handed out a 9 X12 piece of drawing paper or Bristol board.
  • Instruct the students to lightly pencil sketch the still life.
  • When they are ready to start coloring, encourage them to use a little bit of pressure, to release the oil pastel's rich color.
  • I gave students the liberty to be creative with their vases, so they didn't come out the same.
  • As a final touch, I had each student sign their vase, just like Van Gogh did.
  • As always, I was impressed with each students take on the sunflower.
The artwork above was created by a third grader.

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  1. love this , I love Van Gogh and love sunflowers and its perfect for this time of year.

    Love your blog btw we homeschool and I am always looking for fabulous ideas and inspiration to keep us fresh and excited.

  2. Recently I read an article that claimed that he may not have been the one who did the cutting but it may actually have been Gauguin because they were fighting over the girl in question who received the gory gift. Interesting idea since Gauguin took off soon after and Vincent had an almost worshipful relationship with Gauguin so he wouldn't have pressed charges but just covered it up. See even artists beside daVinci get embroiled in conspiracy theories!
    Blessings to you,

  3. Yeah for Van Gogh! I also love!!!! modern art for kids. I commented on your nice art below, but want you to join me if interested at We have very similar ideas...even in our blog name! HA! I have these sunflowers under 3rd grade as well! Enjoy!


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