Artistic Creations

A place where creativity and education meet

Tribute to Van Gogh

I had a great conversation with my father-in-law this weekend about two artists, one a musician the other a fine artist (painter). The topic we were discussing was a lesser known song called Vincent by the musician Don McLean. Most of you  likely know of Don McLean for his famous song American Pie. In stark contrast this song is not upbeat rather its more like a folk song walking you through a painters life. The painter that Don McLean speaks of the painter Vincent Van Gogh and the challenging life he had not being accepted as an artist. Well at the end of this discussion I mentioned to my father-in-law Bill I want to create an experiment where students listen to the song and try to pick up on who the singer is describing.

So, during Monday’s 6th grade Art Class I decided to test my students brains and see how well of a picture Don McLean “painted” for them through his words sung. I prefaced the song by saying to the students, to either close their eyes, put their heads down.. or just sit up and be silent.

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As you can see the students were extremely focused, a pin drop could be heard throughout the song’s entirety! Post song we discussed who they thought McLean was  talking about. A few students said..Van Gogh, I was super proud that they had listened intently to the thoughtful words in the song. We then began our discussion about what paintings where mentioned and what else Don McLean spoke of  regarding Van Gogh. The discussion was wonderful, fun and the students spoke of how beautiful the world looked through Vincent’s eyes. I was floored! Lastly I showed students the Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night and briefly explained his style and how critics looked down upon him because his paintings were in stark contrast to works at the time. I  used the image from an incredible art site developed by Google called The Google Art Project : Link to Starry Night  . This site gives you street view tours of the world’s best museum’s and super high resolution images of  world famous  paintings.

I found this discussion to be motivating to me as a teacher showing that even in the information overload era that students like a quiet song and time to think, one student actually thanked me for helping to relax her. This type of moment cannot be planned but when it happens you just think.. man I’m sure thankful for wonderful teaching opportunities like this! If you decide to try out this experiment in your class let me know how it works out for you and good luck.

Starry Night:

Lastly Here is the Song “Vincent” by Don McLean

 

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5 Comments

  1. Great activity idea! I have shared this YouTube link with my students too. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dipFMJckZOM

  2. Doris Blais

    Steven,

    What a wonderful idea you had to help your students listen and hear what a famous artist went through in his life. It is a beautiful connection between art and music. You are definitely gifted from God and we are so pleased that you touch people’s lives in such a special way. YOU are and awesome teacher and we are happy to be your parents.

    Love Mom and Dad

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