I was Invited to Teach Kids about Vincent Van Gogh and I Absolutely Loved it

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From being a budding actor to a trained lawyer, and then moving to social media management, blogging and finally finding my calling with features journalism, I’ve had an interesting professional journey so far. Yet, I am still creatively evolving. So, when the team behind Kidpreneurs Inc. reached out to me to conduct a curated walkthrough for children at the ongoing Van Gogh 360 immersive art experience in Delhi, I said yes in a heartbeat.

Kidpreneurs Inc., as its name suggests, is a Delhi-based group that teaches and encourages entrepreneurial skills to children, with the ultimate aim of imparting life skills like the art of fostering healthy competition, understanding business and finance, gaining confidence in interacting with people and dealing with failure. To this end, they organise exclusive pop-ups twice a year where children run their own stalls for any business of their choice. The rest of the year, they organise workshops and informative sessions around different subjects to impart knowledge that children may not have exposure to at school and home.

Previously I have taught their kids the basics of creative writing. I didn’t expect to be asked to conduct an art walkthrough, but the idea definitely appealed to me. As an art and culture writer and avid art lover, I took my 7-year-old son to see Van Gogh 360’s digital art experience soon after it came to Delhi. We both loved it immensely, and I even wrote about the Dutch artist for JStor Daily. Hence, I had done the research, I had visited the exhibit, and I was looking forward to teaching other children about it. Fortunately, after the walkthrough, I received some lovely feedback from children and their parents alike!

Today, I’d like to share my notes – perhaps you can use them to teach your kids about this famous artist. Though I spoke freely on the spot, these were pointers I noted to make sure I covered all the important topics. The biggest challenge was teaching young and impressionable minds about sensitive subjects like mental health problems and suicide. We collectively decided not to mention Van Gogh’s suicide, but I did introduce the children to his mental health issues as I feel it’s an important subject. So, here are my curatorial notes / rough script. Bear in mind that it’s written in a conversational style for children!

Van Gogh 360:

TALK ABOUT IMMERSIVE ART

Who loves art? Do you? But have you ever walked inside a painting? That’s what we are going to do today. Today, we’re here to see an immersive art experience – which is just a fancy way of saying that you are inside the art 🙂 You’ll see the paintings go over you, inside you and you can even sit, run or jump on them!

INTRODUCTION TO VAN GOGH AND WHEN HE LIVED

But do you know the artist that we’re here to see? His name is Vincent Van Gogh, and he lived around 150 years ago.

LOCATION

Where do you think he was from? He was Dutch, so he was from a country in Europe called the Netherlands. But that’s not where he became famous – he became famous in France – that was where most famous artists of the world lived at that time.

POST-IMPRESSIONISM

What is so special about Vincent Van Gogh? He belonged to a group of artists called the ‘post-impressionists’. That’s a pretty fancy term too but it’s actually really simple. It means that they liked to paint things that they could see in front of them – it could be a garden, a person, or a toy. But they would change how that person or garden or toy would look – they would paint them in slightly strange shapes or make them more colourful so that the person who was seeing it could see it was based on something real but wasn’t quite real.

BRIGHT COLOURS AND BOLD BRUSH STROKES

Van Gogh changed things by using very bright colours and very bold brush strokes. So, he would take a paintbrush and use many different colours to create one thing. Here’s an example of this technique in his self-portrait – you wouldn’t imagine a person’s face being orange and blue, but he used these colours so beautifully to make his own face, and that’s what he became famous for.

MATERIAL

He painted with oil-based paints which is why they look so thick and bright. Water-based paints were too thin and wouldn’t have this effect.

HIS FORAY INTO ART

There are a couple of things you should know about Van Gogh. The first was that he became an artist later in life – when he was 27. He started out as a priest, then became a teacher and he also sold art. But he loved seeing other artists in France and he wanted to practice it himself. So, he decided to learn from other famous artists such as Paul Gauguin.

POVERTY

The other important fact about his life was that he was very poor. Many artists don’t make money by selling their art till much later in life, and Van Gogh didn’t make much money. He had a brother whom he was very close to called Theo Van Gogh who sent him money, but it wasn’t enough for all his needs. So instead of buying food, he would use the money to buy paints. And to save on paying models, he painted things that were available freely like flowers and the night sky. He was so poor that sometimes he used really cheap paints. In one painting, the cheap paints have made the colour of red roses fade over the years to become white. His earlier works showed many scenes of poor people like ‘The Potato Farmers’, but later he started painting bright and vibrant scenes of nature instead.

MENTAL HEALTH

But because he wasn’t eating and he wasn’t earning much money, he became a very sad man. And he started having mental health problems. This meant that he would get very very sad and very very angry and would do silly things. One day, he had a fight with the famous artist Mr Gauguin and in his anger, he cut off his own ear!

And then later in life when the sadness got too much, he killed himself (eventually I didn’t mention this part).

CONCLUSION

But most of his paintings, especially the famous ones, are so bright and beautiful that one would never guess how sad he was inside.

Now let’s go inside the hall to have a look at his beautiful and unique paintings. And afterwards I would love to know which one was your favourite.

Immersive art at its best

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This walkthrough was conducted in the area outside the actual immersive art experience. Once inside, the kids were left to their own devices and they absolutely loved it! I was amazed at the kind of engaging and insightful questions they asked me – far from being bored, I could see how much value this walkthrough added to their experience of Van Gogh 360. Plus, I was approached by a marketing team on the premises to conduct a walkthrough for their clients too! A positive sign for sure 🙂

That’s it from me for now, but here’s a glimpse of my first visit to Van Gogh 360 as shared on Instagram.

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This blog post is part of the blog challenge ‘Blogaberry Dazzle’ hosted by Cindy D’Silva and Noor Anand Chawla in collaboration with Zariya Healings.

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*This is not a sponsored post.

**Copyright in pictures and content belongs to nooranandchawla.com and cannot be republished or repurposed without express permission of the author. As I am a copyright lawyer by profession, infringement of any kind will invite strict legal action.

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38 comments

  1. Von Gogh is such an internationally celebrated artist, that it makes sense to have him as the subject of this iconic immersive art event. You not only did a great job but also took care to simplify the introduction to suit the age groups attending.

  2. Wow! Not only did you taught the children but shared with us the knowledge and information as well! Helping children understand more about artists as great as Van Gogh would surely help pave more interest for kids not only to appreciate art more but to become artists themselves.

  3. Thats was quite an interesting professional journey. I felt u were perfect to teach the kids about Van Gogh. It was nice to read tru how you categorized and made it easy to read and understand.

  4. What a wonderful opportunity Noor! It truly is an experience to share your knowledge with kids and get them interested in the masters. And that’s one exhibition on my list, i hope it stays long enough for me to go.

  5. Van Gogh is one of those artists whose some photographic collection was there with my father. The large sunflowers in a pot was that painting who photograph or better to say postcard size photo grabbed by attention. I found it very vibrant and appealing… I will not shy to say that my childish mind made an effort to replicate the same on her drawing book…..how was it lets keep the story aside 🙂 as no one can be Van Gogh. Noor you are talented and also lucky to get a chance to teach kids about this brilliant artist and the way you shared it with us …. MY God i felt like as if i am right there at the event listening to you. Thank you so much for this post.

  6. Wow, Noor, your professional journey is a real rollercoaster of fascinating experiences! It’s heartwarming to see organizations like Kidpreneurs Inc. go the extra mile in providing workshops and informative sessions, exposing children to subjects they may not encounter in school or at home. The impact they’re making is immeasurable, and I do not doubt that their efforts will shape the future leaders and innovators of our world.
    And I am sure it was not tough for you to talk about Van Gogh.

  7. It is quite difficult to get kids interested in Van Gogh but they are very smart these days. I also see a lot of grow-ups in the session. It sure must have been quite an experience.

  8. It seems like quite an experience. I had been following it on your stories and reels. Making it interesting for kids must have been challenging.

  9. What lovely assignment! And I love the way you have written & the language. So simple and appropriate for children to understand. It is indeed very sad that an artist whose paintings are so full of life and colour was not alright. By just looking at his work one would never guess the mental health issues. Starry Night remains one of my favourites and I wonder that he saw such beauty from his cell.

  10. Wow! It must be beautiful to explain to children what Van Gogh was like! Mental Health is a crucial issue that’s gaining importance these days. You must be proud to be a contributor to the bucket. Loved your coverage of the event on Instagram 🙂

  11. Thanks Noor for simplying so many concepts and sharing about Vincent Gogh. This experience of looks so much exciting and glad to know the kids enjoyed it so much.

  12. I like that you write on different subjects instead of sticking to one genre. That makes every article of yours a delight to read. I didn’t know that we had a museum like this in India. Recently, my sister’s family had visited it in the UK and they said that the experience was surreal. I’m sure the kids had a great time. Your notes are so simple yet engaging. I knew about van Gogh but it was a pleasure to go over it one more time.

  13. The Van Gogh 360 experience offers a visually captivating and immersive environment that sparks the imagination and curiosity of the children. Through the vibrant world of Van Gogh’s paintings, children develop an appreciation for art, creativity, and the power of self-expression. It’s a truly enriching experience for young minds and I’m glad groups like Kidpreneurs Inc took this initiative and you made it interesting for them.

  14. I’m sure the kids must’ve thoroughly enjoyed learning about Van Gogh in such an interactive manner. I know I did. This is an amazing initiative. Introducing kids to artists around them world at an early age definitely gives them perspective and makes them curious for more.

  15. wonderful the way you told the life story of the artist and depicted the idea that his paintings had no clue of sadness and poverty shows that painting and creativity could be the source of inspiration to anyone irrespective of their condition in life.

  16. This looks so magical! I spotted someone’s stories and then went down the rabbit hole of watching everyone’s coverage.Gurgaon is really far and I am sad that I missed it.

  17. Oh this is epic, Noor. As you know I was really thrilled for you when I saw the videos on Instagram with little snippets of you conducting the tour. What an experience it might have been. Only onwards and upwards! <3

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