Kat: Hey Princess Latte. What are you doing today?
Princess Latte: Hey Kat, I’m coloring in some Irises right now.
Kat: Oh, are those Van Gogh’s Irises?
Princess Latte: Yeah, some of the ones he painted while he was hospitalized in France.
Kat: France? I thought Van Gogh was German.
Princess Latte: German? No no no, he’s Dutch.
Kat: Dutch? So...German.
Princess Latte: No, Dutch as in The Netherlands. A lot of famous artists came from the Netherlands, like Rembrant for example.
Kat: Or maybe Vermeer?
Princess Latte: Vermeer too.
Kat: So that's why you have irises today.
Princess Latte: Yeah, I thought they’d help with some of the details.
Kat: But, uhhh...
Princess Latte: Those are purple.
Kat: And those are ummm...not purple.
Princess Latte: And... these are orange.
For Van Gogh’s Irises today you’ll need:
First I’m going to shade in the largest block of color. Let's start with the ground and I’ll know where my Irises are. If you look at the ground in this painting, it’s not really just brown dirt is, it? There’re fallen leaves and flowers that add a kind of orange color. So we’re going to start with our lightest color for this area, orange, because you can cover light with dark but can’t cover dark with light. Here I’ll scatter some bits of green. Then I am going to grab my red-orange and add depth by coloring most of this area, but still having some light orange pop out. If you don’t have red-orange you can use red or even just leave it orange. Now, I am going to add some splotches of brown. These don’t have to be in any particular place, it’s just dirt peeking through the leaves.
Next, we’re going to want to outline our flower leaves in dark green. Impressionists like Van Gogh didn’t really use black because black is a color rarely found in nature. If you look at the shadows on leaves yourself – go outside and check! – it’s not really black or grey, but a darker green. But so we can keep track of our lines, go ahead and trace over the leaves in your darkest green, it’ll help you remember what’s what too. Fill in the leaves with your lightest green. And already it has good shading! What do you think? Don’t forget to get the flower stems with that light green, you can fill in the area between the flowers too. If you look at the picture, what’s behind the flowers you see up front? More flowers! So more green.
Let’s put down our lightest purple on some of the irises themselves. Just color them in! Then, after we’re done coloring in the flowers light purple, we’ll add a dark purple around the edges. Irises are often darker around the edges than in the middle, right? But this isn’t an outline, imagine you’re painting and making lots of big brush strokes because Van Gogh was known for his brush strokes. Color in all the Irises the same way. There sure are a lot of them, aren’t there? Now add some shade around the edges, the same as before. I have a third purple that is even darker than the first two, so I am going to add a little shadow around some of the edges of the Irises. Don’t have a third purple? You can skip this step, they’re already looking pretty good, don’t you think? Same with the green. I have a medium green that I am going to use to add some depth. If you don’t have a medium green, finish filling in the area that was mostly paint dabs with your light green. Near the middle of each flower, I’m going to add some yellow. This is what makes Irises really pop! Then, I’m going to use the yellow for some of the flowers that are behind the Irises, up at the top.
Remember the dark green we used for the outline before? We can use it to add more depth and this will make the lighter leaves appear to jump out at you. Because your eye sees a darker color as being beneath something, it often makes things look further away too. The lighter color stems and leaves become what we call the “foreground” – important objects that you are supposed to look at when you first glance at a painting or drawing. These darker patches will help create a background –the area behind the flowers. Finish coloring in the light green in the corner if you haven’t already and ta-dah! You’re done making some beautiful Irises.
Let’s move on to the garden above to finish this Van Gogh. In this part, you can explore your creativity. I’m filling in the lines that are already on your sheet with orange, but you don’t have to use orange. You can use your favorite color or you can just use every color in your box for a different flower! I love orange for this drawing because it stands out so well next to the purple Irises. I’m alternating shades to make it look more natural. To make it a garden, it needs some green. So we’ll fill in this background with light green first. Then, we’ll take our dark green and add shade like before. But only add a little! I’m just adding a bunch of little dots, not big patches like before. If you have a medium green, that’s best for this, but you can use you dark green if you need.
Then, you can add some really tiny flowers if you want. I’m just adding some dots of pink and purple in the distance. Pink is my favorite color, after all. Then some yellow and red and blue. Now we have ourselves a beautiful garden! And you have a Van Gogh!
Princess Latte: So we finished our first drawing - Van Gogh’s Irises.
Sadie: I like your drawing, can I do it too?
Princess Latte: Yeah!
Princess Latte: Yay!