Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Van Gogh's Irises

Irises (1889)
What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?
              ~ Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh painted a series of irises, including this  well known painting, in the last year of his life. The painting is such a wonderful example of van Gogh's work that I decided to provide my new students with a chance to paint it as we did in our 2017 Summer Art Camp.

To create our paintings, we taped a piece of heavy 12" x 15" watercolor paper to a watercolor board.  Then, we drew our irises using a black crayon and with the help of a drawing guide, How to Draw an Iris in 5 Easy Steps
After adding the stems and leaves to our irises, we began painting using only our fingers! This eliminated the need for water which could dilute the bold, thick colors so prominent in van Gogh's work.  

We double or triple dipped our fingers to mix colors, or we used different fingers for different colors, or we wiped them off to switch to new colors. Easy-peasy!

We started with the background colors using only green, yellow and blue.

Then we added a few tiny flowers using complementary colors. We chose a color for our irises and painted them in various tints, shades, and tones of that color, one petal at a time; and we painted our stems and leaves. 

Finally we added the soil using short strokes of orange, burnt umber, and yellow. The we went back our our irises and added the bright yellow "beard."

Once the paintings were completely dry, we outlined the flowers again while also adding some a few details to the background in black crayon or black oil pastel.

Then we carefully removed the tape from the paintings to reveal a professional-looking white border. 

Our young artists seemed very pleased with their beautiful iris artwork, shown here:

(Note: This piece is unfinished; the artist planned to
complete the final outlining process at home.)

If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.
                                                                                                   ~ Vincent van Gogh

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