This summer (2022), I decided to let my students paint a mural on a wall in my art studio. With the war going on in Ukraine, my students thought it would be nice to paint sunflowers. It didn’t take long to go from sunflowers to Vincent van Gogh and his sunflowers. We chose to create a large vase of Van Gogh-inspired sunflowers on a wall near the entrance to my studio.
This project is part of a collection!
If the wall you are painting on isn’t a light color, you’ll need to first prep the wall with a light color that your mural can easily be painted onto. You’ll also want to clean the wall in preparation for painting. Don’t forget to remove outlet covers and get things out of the way. Cover anything important with plastic so you don’t get paint on other things in the room.
To start this Van Gogh mural painting, we had to draw our design on the wall. If the wall color had been a darker color, we would have had to prime it with white paint. However, since it was a light grey color, I was able to have my students work right on top of the paint that was already on the wall.
For more mural projects, you can see how I created this Frida Kahlo mural project (where I did have to prime to space first).
To make this drawing on the wall, we scanned a Van Gogh sunflowers coloring page. I then projected that image using a projector and laptop computer onto the wall where we wanted to make the Van Gogh sunflower mural. I adjusted the size and orientation until I got the design I was looking for—which was that it looked like the pot of sunflowers was sitting on the floor.
Then my students (pictured above) first traced it on the wall with a pencil and then went back over it with black acrylic paint. Since the mural is inside, I didn’t buy outdoor paint for this mural. Instead, I used a variety of acrylic paint that I already had (to help keep the cost down).
Once the black outlines had dried (overnight), my students painted the sunflower mural using acrylic paints. I cut the tops off of our paints and let my students scoop out every last drop of paint (it was a great way to use up older paints I’ve had around for a long time).
I provided my students with a few shades of yellow, orange, green, blue, and brown. I also gave them white and let them mix their colors. They LOVED mixing and making all the shades of yellow for the flowers and other colors for the mural.
Less advanced, or beginner students could paint the sunflowers, vases, etc., using flat colors and not worry about mixing colors and shading. My students just jumped in, started mixing, and loved every minute of it.
My students did almost all the work on this mural. The only thing I did (besides monitor and motivate) was to go back and paint the final black outlines of the mural. I did this step to keep from having to touch-up the sunflowers (the black acrylic paint is very unforgiving—one slip and you have to get the yellows out again).
The final mural turned out absolutely stunning (as you can see in the image above). This mural now welcomes others as they come in the door and hopefully inspires them, too.
Here is a fun time-lapse video of us working on our Vincent van Gogh-inspired sunflower mural.
You can see a video I made of our mural process on Instagram HERE.
Thanks for exploring my Vincent van Gogh sunflower mural idea. If you decide to do this project I’d love to see what you create. Please tag me @artwithjennyk on your favorite social media channels so I can see what you do with this idea!
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