Starry Night Interpretation

Submitted by: Cara Bailey, Art Teacher at West Jordan Middle School.
Grade level: Grades 8 and 9 (Ages 13 - 15)

Goals for Students:

  • To develop an understanding of Vincent van Gogh’s style.

  • Demonstrate skills in creating a balanced composition.

  • Gain an understanding of what artistic interpretation is and apply that knowledge to create a work of art that has the following elements:

  • Expressive line

  • Texture

  • Movement

  • Personal interests and elements.


  • Students will create a unique interpretation of Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night. by either: Starry Night

    1. Using van Gogh’s composition and then applying a unique painting style to complete the painting - or -

    2. Creating a unique composition and then applying van Gogh’s painting style to that composition.


student pic student pic

student pic student pic

Click on all the images on this page for the full size image.

mona starry night

Mona Lisa on a Starry Night- Painting by Adam Strange

Lesson Overview:

  • After watching the biography. and seeing and discussing several different artistic interpretations of Starry Night students have the chance to create their own interpretation. Students have two choices: They can either copy van Gogh’s composition and apply their own paint application style or they can create an original composition an apply van Gogh’s paint application style.

  • Students begin by making a line drawing of their composition. This along with the PowerPoint takes most kids about 1 class period.

  • Do a short demonstration on how to paint like van Gogh. Emphasize the use of tints, tones, and shades to make the painting look more full and rich.

  • Students check off their line drawing with the teacher before beginning the painting process.

  • This project (including the video) from start to finish takes most students about 7 days in class.



  • Daily reviews

  • Daily check-in with each student individually

  • Peer reviews

  • Grading rubric



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