I introduced the 5th graders to the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh. I told the students that we know a lot about Vincent Van Gogh because he wrote letters to his brother, Theo and these letters are a documentation of his life. We focused on his self portraits and compared two of them. We talked about how Vincent was not a very happy person and that for a period of time during his life he lived in a hospital because he had emotional problems. He painted a lot during his time in the hospital and these are two of the portraits that he made while he was there. The one on the left was painted early in his stay when he was not feeling so great and the one on the right was painted later when he was feeling a little better. I asked the students if they could point out some clues in the portraits that tell us these things. They point out the colors and the expression in his eyes and the clothing he is wearing and the brush strokes in the backgrounds. They are very good at identifying them. In the letters to Theo, Vincent explains that he intentionally painted his face with a green tint to it and the background in the painting on the left has very rough, rigid brush strokes to indicate emotional turmoil. Then, in the painting on the right, the brush strokes are smooth and swirly to express a more positive feeling.
The assignment was to draw a self-portrait showing a specific feeling or emotion in the facial expression. The students used mirrors to look at their own faces while drawing.
We worked on the placement of facial features and how to draw specific facial expressions to show emotion.
After the portraits are drawn in pencil they are outlined in Sharpe marker.
The mustache and goatee were an imaginative addition. None of my students have this much facial hair yet!
This girl wanted to show the feeling of being bored so she is doing math in her portrait.
I know, right!?
This one has great detail!