Tints and Shades with Van Gogh’s Sunflowers

by Meghan

Sharing is caring!

Things have slowed down around here as we continue to dig out of boxes from our big move, and as I enter the last month of my pregnancy and sheer exhaustion has set in!  But, we are still managing to do a few fun activities each week, continuing with our Art for Preschoolers series.  Today, marks a truly special project – the first project the Ms completed in their new playroom, on their new craft table.  The Grandmas bought it for them for Christmas last year, and finally, 8+ month later, we have assembled it!  The girls were so excited… today’s project featured one of the 13 Artists Children Should KnowVincent van Gogh.  We reproduced his Sunflowers paintings, using yellow, white and black paint to explore tints and shades of color.

Tints and Shades with Van Gogh's Sunflowers

Tints and Shades of Yellow

We continued our exploration of Art History for Preschool with the Van Gogh, one of the late Impressionist artists, who is also considered the forefather of Expressionism.  Van Gogh, like other Impressionists, did not paint objects exactly as they appeared.  Instead, he exaggerated colors, and even changed them, to express his own point of view. Last week, Auntie Lisa sent us a beautiful yellow bouquet, including sunflowers, as a housewarming gift.  It was also the perfect inspiration, alongside pictures of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers painting in varying shades of vibrant yellow, to introduce the girls to the concept of tints and shades.

To reproduce Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, you only need a few basic supplies:


Yellow, white and black tempera paint
Small canvas (or painting paper)
Paper plate
Cupcake wrappers
Paint brush
Q-Tips (optional)
Dollar Store Table Cloth

Cost: Less than $5
Prep Time: Less than 5 minutes
Clean-Up Time: Less than 5 minutes

I set the girls up with a make-shift paint palette, using a paper plate and cupcake wrappers, one each for yellow, white and black.  When I set the plates down, on the plate, I showed them how you can mix color with white to make the color lighting, creating a tint, or with a little black to make the color darker, creating a shade.  Tints and Shades Color Palette

The girls were a little aggressive with the black, which overpowered the yellow.  If I did this again, I would give them Q-tips to create their tints and shades, making for more gradual color adjustments.  But they had fun, either way!

We talked about the different tints and shades of yellow in Van Gogh’s painting, as well as in our real life flower bouquet… and then I left them to their own devices, as they painted away.  They were so excited to be painting on their new table (thank you Grandmas!!!). For those interested, it is the Pottery Barn Kids Large Carolina Table and Chairs. For easy clean-up, I kept a pack of WaterWipes on the table to get their hands before they left the table, and laid down 1/4 of a Dollar Store table cloth to catch any drips.  Gotta keep the new house looking new for as long as we possibly can! In case you missed it, I am now a brand ambassador for WaterWipes, chemical free wipes expanding in the U.S. from Europe.  To learn more, check out our Clean Kids Chemical Free post from earlier this week.

Tints and Shades of Yellow with Van Gogh Sunflowers

About Sunflowers

Sunflowers with the subject of two different series Van Gogh painted in the late 1880s.  He prepared them to decorate the guest room of his home, to welcome fellow artist, Paul Gauguin, who was coming to stay with him.

About Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh (1853 – 1890) was a Dutch painter, and contributor to the late Impressionism movement.  He painted portraits, self portraits, landscapes and still lifes, producing more than 2,100 works of art.   While he drew as a child, he did not begin painting until his late 20s, with many of his best and most well-known works completed in the final years of his short life.  This is likely attributable to his move to Paris in 1886, where he discovered the French Impressionists, and his subsequent move to the south of France, where his work became more vivid and brighter. Sadly, van Gogh was plagued by mental illness and ultimate took his own life.  Among his most notable works are his Sunflowers series and Starry Night.

This is definitely an art exploration we will be doing again, with different colors and different paintings.  Do you have a favorite van Gogh painting?  If you are a van Gogh fan, you might also enjoy our friend Clarissa’s Starry Night sensory bin at Munchkins and Moms.

Exploring Tints and Shades with Van Gogh's Sunflowers

To learn more about Impressionism, be sure to visit our Art History for Preschool series landing page.  You can also see our other projects inspired by the Impressionists, including Monet Water Lily Sensory Bin and  Degas Dancers: A Study of Models and Pastels.  You can find all the posts in our series, along with our other favorite finds from around the web, on our Art for Kids board on Pinterest.

Stay tuned for the next post in our Art for Kids series, as move on from Impressionism to Expressionism and Kandinsky!

Sharing is caring!


More to love on Playground Parkbench


25 Art Projects Inspired by Famous Artists: Post-Impressionism October 6, 2016 - 1:54 pm

[…] Tints and Shades with Van Gogh’s Sunflowers – Playground and Park Bench […]

Jennifer Tammy September 9, 2015 - 11:25 pm

I love this! And what a beautiful set-up you created for them 🙂 Our art room is in the basement, but I’m trying to figure out how to move that because as you’ve shown, the natural light really enhances the experience.

PGPBMeghan September 10, 2015 - 7:47 am

Ever since we picked the floor plan for the new house, we knew the sunroom would be the perfect playroom – I don’t think I’ve actually ever turned the lights on in there so far because the natural light is so spectacular. Makes for great photos too 🙂 Throw down part of a Dollar Store table cloth and turn any table into a great, easy to clean painting set up!


Leave a Comment

* By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website.