Thursday, April 29, 2010

Fifth Grade: VanGogh in Perspective

This project, is one of my few original's a twist off of 4th grade project:Van Gogh's Cat Wander's into the Starry Night. This is Van Gogh's Dog Wander's into the Cafe Terrace.

The student's love this project for two reasons. 1. The learn how to draw dogs. 2. It looks good no matter what.

I love this project for two reasons. 1. It has dogs. 2. It looks good no matter what.

Actually, I love it a lot more than those two reasons. This project is a great teaching opportunity for perspective, collage, color, painting techniques (dry brush, wet into wet, premixing). The students get to use their sketchbook to learn perspective, and to practice drawing their dogs. The dogs "pop" out of the picture plane. Also, the project has many different types of steps which takes a few weeks for them to finish, which teaches students that every project shouldn't be finished within 45 minutes.

  • 18x9 paper
  • pencils
  • tempera paint (primary colors + black and white)
  • silver paper or aluminum foil
  • construction paper
  • crayons
  • smal strips of cardboard

Day 1. Walk the students through drawing a simple version of Cafe Terrace at Night. Start with a horizon line and vanishing point. Add the porch, Terrace, store, and skyscrapers.(Don't draw tables yet)

Day 2/3. Paint yellow things (terrace, ground, sky scraperwindows, store window), then orange ( add to store window -dry brush-, doors, a little to the ground, then red on the porch and maybe a little dry brush to the store window to create a "glow". Green to the chandelier over the terrace and maybe some doors and the ground. Paint the sky blue. Next, paint all of the buildings grey and then outline EVERYTHING in black (normally I hate outline in black, but it looks much better outlined), and add "black,tiny rainbows" for the cobblestone. * May take longer than 3 days*

Day3/4. Practice drawing dogs in sketchbook, and start/finish final dog on construction paper and crayon. I always tell them "no floating dog heads, it needs a neck or a full body." I let them add funky details like sunglasses, mohawks, colored spots, brightly colored fur, etc. Cut them out. Add silver stars to the sky. Glue cardboard strip to back of dog, and glue to picture. * This day can be switched with a painting day if the kids get antsy after painting a while, or if cleaning up paint is too much for YOU that day*

That's it!


  1. These are so wonderful! Van Gogh and dogs in one project... what's not to love? The colors and the outlines make them so striking. I plan on giving this a whirl. Thanks for the great post!

  2. These are gorgeous - but personally I'd use cats! :)
    I hope you and your readers will check out my new elementary art teacher blog called There's a Dragon in My Art Room. I'm a beginner and need your comments, critiques and advice. You can find the blog at

  3. Thanks for the encouragement!

    Phyl- I actually do cats in fourth grade with VanGogh's starry night, I actually have some new pictures of them with a funk twist I'm going to post in a few days! you'll have to check them out!