1. Van Gogh must have used a ton of paint. We read that he sometimes squeezed it directly from the tube onto his canvas, and I believe it. When you look at closely at how his brush strokes look like small furrows in a river of paint, you begin to realize just how much he used.
2. Which makes me understand why he'd likely have no qualms about trading paintings for more paint supplies. There's such sad irony in the fact that Van Gogh never realized much money from any of his artwork, when you consider the millions of dollars an original Van Gogh fetches now. I'd always heard he never sold a painting in his lifetime, and while that's maybe stretching it a bit (at any rate, one book we read indicated that some of his paintings were sold during his lifetime, even if he wasn't the one profiting by the sale) he certainly never received the admiration and acclaim he would later receive. Apparently he traded many paintings for more paint supplies. Given how many hundreds of paintings he did in his lifetime (and the amount of paint he used!) I would guess that was a wise arrangement.
The sweet girl's painting in Van Gogh's style
3. You can thicken acrylic paint with craft glue. I was a tiny bit skeptical when I read this idea in the Usborne Art Treasury, but they were spot on. I used just a dollop of "tacky glue" per puddle of acrylic, and it definitely thickens the paint. Since the glue is very white, it also lightens the paint color a bit.
4. "Glue doesn't belong in paint!" At least not according to my scandalized first grader. "Glue is sticky. We use it to glue things together. We don't put it in paint," she said plaintively. But she grudgingly allowed that it did work to thicken the paint, though she wasn't wild about the mild scent of the glue. She definitely preferred to work with the regular acrylics sans paint. I agreed that regular acrylics were also less messy. (I recommend putting a big sheet down on the floor underneath whatever your painting surface is...we usually do anyway, but given how much paint and glue were involved in this activity, it was doubly necessary!)
5. Van Gogh had a marvelous imagination. Just attempting to paint at all "like him" makes you realize anew what a highly imaginative man he must have been. You also begin to realize how certain simple shapes and lines recur in his paintings, the importance of circles in his work, and the way he used swirls to show movement.
6. I'm still in love with Starry Night.
My Van Gogh homage.
7. One wonders if painting helped keep Van Gogh's depression and sadness at bay. The sweet girl wanted to know why he painted so many paintings, and I told her that was my best guess. "We know he was often sad," I told her. "Perhaps painting made him feel more peaceful." An over-simplified explanation, perhaps, but I'm pretty sure it's still true.