Video Librarian: For centuries in Western art, students copied the masters to learn from them. Artist Larry Withers leads would-be painters to recreate, step-by-step, one of Vincent van Gogh’s well-known “Sunflowers” paintings (“Still Life: Vase with Twelve Sunflowers,” 1889, which now hangs in the Philadelphia Museum of Art). Using a technique called “projection,” Withers shows how to first transfer the elements of the original to a blank canvas by using a grid, then transform it into a template that works as a more complex version of the “paint-by-numbers” approach. Van Gogh was known for his use of brilliant color, and Withers shows how some colors were mixed on a palette, while others came directly from paint tubes. He discusses how matching colors and techniques can be difficult, because of the differences between paint materials in the 1800s and those of today. Finally, Withers notes that van Gogh painted with enthusiasm, and although this is the most difficult quality to imitate, Withers encourages students to paint with abandon. This DVD has a rich extras package—including a mini-poster reproduction of the original painting, a schematic of color swatches, and PDF files of reference materials. Recommended. 3 stars (out of 4)
Midwest Book Review: Paint Like Van Gogh is an instructional DVD that demonstrates the painting techniques of legendary Dutch painter Vincent Van Gogh. Host Larry Withers walks the viewer through step-by-step as he copies Van Gogh’s widely beloved work “Sunflowers”. To gain full benefit, viewers will need to acquire some simple tools (stretched linen canvas, filbert brushes, oil paint, wooden pallet, pallet knife an cup, mineral spirits and latex gloves) to follow the primer. Bonus features include a two-sided color insert with a photo of the painting and schematic with color swatches, as well as PDF files of the reference materials. Paint Like Van Gogh unquestionably lives up to its title, and is enthusiastically recommended for any aspiring painter interested in hands on learning.
Practical Homeschooling Magazine. Ever marveled at impressionist paintings like those by Monet and Van Gogh, but were convinced you could never paint like that? Then this DVD is perfect for you and the aspiring artist in your family. Larry Withers is an enjoyable host as explains how for centuries people have learned to paint by copying the masters. Then the host outlines some history of the famous painter and Vincent Van Gogh’s painting “Sunflowers.” From there he explains the materials you will need to successfully copy “Sunflowers.” As he does that, he also outlines the history of the art supplies and why some colors that Van Gogh used are no longer available. Next comes the explanation of how to break the painting into pieces that can be transferred to your canvas to be painted. The DVD includes the projections for the project in PDF form, so they are easy to print off. All you have to do is create the grid and pencil in the outline. If you’ve ever worked with oil paints, you know there can be a lot of mixing to reach the perfect shade. Instead of telling you to mix until it looks right, Larry demonstrates how to do that and provides tips for making the color just right. Finally, he shows you how to block out the main shapes, filling them in with the right colors and then layering in the details that make an impressionist piece like Van Gogh’s look right. A card inside the DVD packaging has a full color print of “Sunflowers,” both as the first layer of paint and the flip side with the details added. My two oldest (ages 8 and 5) took art lesson this summer and caught the painting bug. My daughter can’t wait to watch the video and try to recreate “Sunflowers.” With the instruction provided with this DVD, I think she might accomplish it and learn the skills along the way that can be applied to other art.
Arts and Activities. There are many ways to learn to paint, and copying the accomplishments of the art masters is a time-tested method. This video presents a very well-organized, step-by-step demonstration of how that learning process can be completed by students, along with providing an appreciation of the featured artist, in this case Vincent van Gogh. Larry Withers, the narrator and presenter, has organized this demonstration with the intent of viewers being able to follow along through the entire painting process. He begins with a well thought out introduction to the various techniques required, and includes a very concise and meaningful biography about van Gogh, which is embellished throughout the presentation. In an effort t maintain a realistic approach to accomplishing the detailed task, Withers uses the same materials van Gogh would have used whenever possible, and explains substitutions when necessary. The demonstration is done using oil paints and introduces the basic materials and tools needed to work in that medium. There is a lot to be learned from this DVD from just watching the transferring technique and grid work demonstration to actually following along. Certainly other painting materials can be substituted as the ages of students dictate and budgets allow. Several add-ons are included with the purchase price, including a special features list that can be used as reference material, and a small print of the painting in question, along with a color key and the information needed to download PDF files of the materials seen in the presentation.
NAEA News: This DVD follows the time-honored tradition of copying a masterwork. Targeted for the adult who wants to learn and apply the very specific methods of Vincent van Gogh, you will re-create one of his quintessential works, a sunflower painting. The program is designed for the viewer to follow along throughout the process of transferring the drawing to the canvas, laying down preliminary colors, building up layers of paint and adding finishing details. Staying faithful to van Gogh’s methods and materials, similar paint, palette, brushes, and even canvas are recommended. The case comes with a reference insert of van Gogh’s sunflower painting and color swatches chart. The DVD’s menu allows you to play the entire program, specific chapters, and view the On Air catalogue of videos. The Special Features section includes numerous reference materials, such as Projection, Painting Details, Materials & Tools, Self-Portraits, and a van Gogh Gallery that features high quality images of a variety of his works. You can also download and print PDF’s from your computer. A history of van Gogh follows his life and influences along with background information about the sunflower series. The painting used in the DVD is from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The host also explains the history and compositional elements of the painting. Detailed instruction with tips on transferring the drawing of the painting using projection or grid, mixing paint color, and an almost stroke-by-stroke demonstration of painting techniques are shown. Dispersed throughout are interesting tidbits. For instance, did you know that Rose Lake is termed a “fugitive color” because it will fade over time? As you view the video and create your own sunflower masterpiece, you will experience a renewed appreciation for the genius of van Gogh.
Step into the clogs of famous Dutch artist, Vincent Van Gogh as we demonstrate his painting techniques while copying one of his well-known “Sunflowers” compositions. In this program we’ll look at Van Gogh’s life and legacy. We'll review the tools and materials he used — his paint pallet, the brushes he used, his canvas, etc. Finally, follow a step-by-step demonstration of his painting methods.This program includes numerous reference materials including a printed reproduction of Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers,” downloadable PDF files, and a Special Features section with transfer grid and painting details images.
Host: Larry Withers
Running time: 66 minutes
Artist Figure Drawing Resource