The Little Artist Guide to Van Gogh 1853-1890 Post- Impressionistic Painter

The Little Artist Guide to Van Gogh 1853-1890 Post-Impressionistic Painter

The First Thing We Should Know About Van Gogh

He and his brother Theo had a very close relationship. They wrote many letters back and forth to each other and that is how we know his personal feelings throughout his life.

Vincent van Gogh Self-Portrait Painting Courtesy Musée d'Orsay via Wikimedia Commons

Vincent van Gogh died at the age of 37 due to mental illness. His brother Theo died six months later due to illness and a broken heart.

Early life of van Gogh:

Van Gogh went to work at the age of 15 at his Uncle’s art dealership to help support his family financially. As a young man, he fell in love with women who rejected him and the art community did not accept his painting style and ability, which caused him to suffer a mental breakdown. As a result, he studied to be a minister and devoted his life to god.

Vincent failed at his studies in the School of Theology in Amsterdam and at the Church of Belgium. He volunteered to preach to an impoverished coal mining community south of Belgium. He painted the people and their lifestyle. Evangelists did not agree with his ministry and his miserable demeanor and asked him to leave the profession.

Life As An Artist

This took place in the last 10 years of his life (1880-1890). Vincent asked his brother if he could move to Paris with him and to help him become connected with other important artists of his time. His brother linked him with artist like Camille Pissarro, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Gauguin and many other impressionistic artists. They used each other as sources of criticism, models, and support. Many artists became tired of his character and disassociated themselves from him.

In ten years van Gogh painted 2,100 paintings and sold one during his lifetime. His physical and mental health plagued him so badly that after being hospitalized several times the people of Arles France petitioned that he should remain in the custody of the hospital due to his unstable disposition. Vincent’s friend Paul Gauguin had stayed with him for a short period of time to help with his care and he was unable to properly watch over him. At this time, van Gogh would check into an institution for care.


At this institution of Saint-Rémy, France, in 1888, Vincent would paint “Starry Night” and "Irises", in addition to four other paintings.

“Sunflowers” was another notable painting during this time where van Gogh painted four versions of it. They did not sell during his lifetime but today are displayed in museums in London, Paris, New York and Amsterdam. His paintings today sell for millions of dollars. “Irises” sold for 52 million and the "Portrait of Dr. Gachet" sold for 82 Million. Wikipedia

From the collection of

The J. Paul Getty Museum

After the death of Vincent and his brother Theo, his sister in-law Joanna created a legacy for his work. She collected as many works as she could and helped to restore his acclaim as an artist. In 1901, Vincent’s work would be displayed in a show in France where he was hailed as a genius artist. His family was proud to see him admired by so many in the artist community.

Today in Amsterdam, the Van Gogh Museum holds more than 200 paintings, 500 drawings and 750 written documents and is open to the public. He is considered the finest Dutch painter since Rembrandt.

“Vincent Van Gogh.”, A&E Networks Television, 14 Aug. 2017,

Our Little Artists

The last two weeks we talked about van Gogh and his life followed by a guided drawing lesson. I thought it would be fun to recreate the "Starry Night" piece “Alaska Style” for our 4th-6thgraders!

We drew polar bears the first week and finished off the lesson with acrylic and chalk pastel starry skies. Some kiddos decided to morph their bears into dogs, walrus’s, & wolves! They really enjoyed the freedom to create! Here are some samples of the final works…

Wikipedia Image "Olive Trees"

Our K-3rd kiddo’s learned about Van Gogh’s painting the “Olive Trees” .

We constructed this piece using chalk pastels in the background using short choppy strokes then added a paper cut out olive tree and fall leaves! This was very fun. The kids turned out beautiful artwork and I especially loved how different and unique each piece of artwork is.

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