Saturday, January 28, 2012

Bible in Art ~ Primer Picture Study Series: Part 1 Vincent Van Gogh

This marks the first segment of my "Bible in Art Series of Studies" for children. These are meant to incorporate basic knowledge of the Scriptures along with a taste of art through picture study. Try one of these lessons a week (one painting a week) with your children and watch as they gently teach them a variety of information in just a few minutes or if you aren't a homeschooler, you can see if you can glean anything yourself! Who says we stop learning once we leave "school"?

Still Life with Bible by Vincent Van Gogh

Have your children study the painting above by Vincent Van Gogh and discuss the following:
  • Tell them the title and name of the artist of the painting.
  • Ask your children if the Bible looks well read? Does it look important to the painter? What colors do they notice are being used? Does this look like a happy or serious painting? What kind of mood does it put them in? Besides the Bible, what else do they notice in the picture?
  • Did you know that Bible is from the Greek word meaning book? The reason you see the word Holy in front of it is to show that it is a special book, a Holy Book.
  • Did you know that Scripture simply means writings and that the Bible is often referred to as Scripture?
  • Did you know that the word Gospel simply means good news?
  • Can your children name the writer's of the Gospels? Can the children find them in their Bible?
  • Quiz them orally on this information at the dinner table for the next few days.
Memorize the following Scripture and discuss what it means:

"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet,
and a light unto my path." 
~ Psalm 119:105

The Church at Auvers by Vincent Van Gogh

Continue with the discussion using the information below:
  • This painting above, by the same artist, Vincent Van Gogh, is more typical of what his work looks like. 
  • Ask the children if they like the picture? How does it make them feel? Does it resemble their church?
  • What do they notice in the painting? What colors are being used? 
  • Show your students one of his most famous paintings called "Starry Night".
  • Discuss the style of his paintings with swirly strokes along with bright and bold colors. What else do they notice about it?
  • Van Gogh wrote of his painting: "My brush goes between my fingers as a bow on a violin." Can your children imagine that? Do they think that is a good description?
  • Regarding the painting above, it is a good time to discuss what Scripture says about church attendance. Share the following verse with your children and discuss the meaning:
    "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together,
    as the manner of some is;
    but exhorting one another: and so much the more,
    as ye see the day approaching."
    ~ Hebrews 10:25

    The Prayer by Vincent Van Gogh

    Discuss some information about the artist with your students:
    • Vincent Van Gogh was born in the Netherlands. Do they know where to find that on the map or globe? 
    • Explain to them that no one appreciated his art work while he was alive and therefore he was very poor. He only sold one painting in his lifetime and he had painting over 1,700 works of art! After he died his paintings gained popularity and they now sell for millions today. Isn't that sad!
    • Van Gogh actually wanted to be a preacher like his father, however, it was not to last long as he ended up becoming a painter who wanted to paint in God's service for he wrote his object was " try to understand the real significance of what the great artists, the serious masters, tell us in their masterpieces, that leads to God; one man wrote or told it in a book; another in a picture."
    • He died a tragic death at the age of 37 which was basically due to bouts of mental illness that he suffered for much of his life. 

    "Everything that is really good and beautiful,
    of inward moral, spiritual and sublime beauty in human beings
    and in their works comes from God."
    ~ Vincent Van Gogh
    Recommended resource book of Van Gogh for your children is Van Gogh (Art for Children) by Ernest Raboff. There is some mature content in the life of Van Gogh (as with many painters!) and this author sticks with the wholesome part of his life for the sake of the young audience which I appreciate!

    Picture of Vincent Van Gogh's Bible

    The Excellency of the Bible ~ A Poem by Isaac Watts for Children

    Great God, with wonder and with praise 
    On all thy works I look: 
    But still thy wisdom, power, and grace 
    Shine brighter in thy Book. 

    The stars that in their courses roll 
    Have much instruction given; 
    But thy good Word informs my soul 
    How I may climb to heaven. 

    The fields provide me food, and show 
    The goodness of the Lord; 
    But fruits of life and glory grow 
    In thy most holy Word. 

    Here are my choicest treasures hid; 
    Here my best comfort lies; 
    Here my desires are satisfied; 
    And hence my joys arise. 

    Lord, make me understand thy law: 
    Show what my faults have been; 
    And from thy Gospel let me draw 
    Pardon for all my sin. 

    Here would I learn how Christ has died 
    To save my soul
    Not all the books on earth beside 
    Such heavenly wonders tell. 

    Then let me love my Bible more; 
    And take a fresh delight 
    By day to read these wonders o’er, 
    And meditate by night. 

    By~ Isaac Watts

    Final Review Activities
    • You can finish up this study by reading the poem by Isaac Watts to your dear students.
    • Review the information above through a few minutes of oral quizzes.
    • Have your children repeat their memory verse.
    • It might be fun to show a variety of paintings to the children and see if they can point out the ones that they think belong to Van Gogh based on his special style.
    • Bring out some paints and have your children do their own bold, bright, and swirly paintings.

    Bible in Art ~ Part Two: Featuring Rembrandt is here.

    All the fine print. This post may be shared with some or all of the following link-ups: The Art of Home-Making MondaysModest Mom Monday'sMonday's MusingsMake Your Home Sing MondayGood Morning Mondays,  The ScoopTitus 2 TuesdaysTuesdays with a TwistRaising HomemakersWise Woman Link UpHomestead Blog Hop Wow Us Wednesdays,  Coffee and ConversationHomemaking ThursdaysHome Sweet HomeOur Simple HomesteadFrom the Farm Blog HopFront Porch Friday Blog HopAwesome Life Friday Link UpFive Star Frou Frou FridayShabbilicious FridaySimply Natural Saturdays and Clever Chicks Blog Hop. Thank you lovely ladies for hosting these. This post may contain affiliate links (which are merchant links that help to support this site at no additional cost to you if you purchase an item through them).


    1. This is a tremendous idea! I love the concept of having the children study a picture for it's story rather than just look at it. Thank you so much for taking the time to link up this week. I hope to see you back again!