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Vincent Van Gogh Lesson for Kids: Facts & Biography

Instructor: Shelly Merrell

Shelly has a Master's of Education. Most recent professional experience is an educational diagnostician. Prior, she taught for 8 years.

Teacher, minister and missionary, Vincent van Gogh was an interesting man who in the end devoted his life to art. In this lesson, we will learn about some people who inspired him, his art style and some famous paintings.

The Life of Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh was born in Holland in 1853. His father and grandfather were Dutch ministers. The rest of his family worked in the art world. He had three sisters and two brothers. He was especially close to his brother, Theo.

Initially, Vincent was a teacher. Later he was employed as a minister, then worked in a book store, and was a missionary. For a period of time he was an art dealer with his brother Theo. All of these jobs took him to several places to live. During this time, he taught himself how to paint and draw. On occasion he took art lessons.

When he was a missionary he lived among people who did not have a lot of money. His early paintings were dark, using blacks, greens and browns. During this time, some people would describe his art work as sad.

The Potato Eaters by Vincent van Gogh
Potato Eaters

Vincent would write letters to Theo telling him about his journey and current art works. (These letters are what historians use to learn about the life of Vincent van Gogh.) Theo would encourage Vincent to continue his art career. Theo still worked in an art gallery and would try to sell some of Vincent's paintings. He did not have success.

Paris, France

In 1866, Vincent decided to move to Paris with Theo. He wanted to learn about a new art movement called 'Impressionism.' Impressionism was about painting everyday life such as landscapes, walking, cooking and sleeping. This art wasn't exact images of what the artists' saw; rather it was a portrait of their impression of what they saw. This appealed to Vincent.

His art work began to look more like Impressionism and was not so dark in color. He began creating masterpieces of flowers and country side, and he started using lighter colors and different brush strokes. Eventually, he mastered painting Paris's culture, painting canvases of beautiful streets and cafes. He wanted to learn more about painting portraits, but couldn't find any models. So he painted a self portrait, a picture of himself.

Self-Portrait in Front of the Easel by Vincent van Gogh
Self-Portrait

It's reported that he created over twenty of these images, during this time.

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