Lesson 2: Drawing depth

Drawing depth
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Slide 1: Slide

This lesson contains 29 slides, with text slides.

time-iconLesson duration is: 90 min


  • Easel
  • Museum edition ‘The bedroom’
  • Digital blackboard/screen
  • Internet connection
  • For each student;
  • 3 x drawing paper A4 120 grams
  • Pencil gray (already needed in the first lesson)
  • Eraser
  • Black marker
  • Crayons
Approximate timings
  • Start lesson + spot the difference 10 minutes
  • Explore depth in museum edition 10 minutes
  • Draw room in perspective  10 minutes
  • Rearrange bedroom (sketch) 10 minutes
  • Rearrange bedroom (black pen and coloured pencil) 25 minutes
  • Discuss drawings 5 minutes
  • Show drawings of chairs by Vincent 5 minutes
  • Introduce Vincent and Paul’s chairs 5 minutes
  • Assignment: look around you + round off lesson 10 minutes
Total: 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Items in this lesson

Drawing depth

Slide 1 - Slide

This item has no instructions

Slide 2 - Slide

You are now going to give the second lesson about Vincent van Gogh. Start by asking what the kids remember about the last lesson.

They already saw The Bedroom last time, of course, but did they really look closely? We’re going to test whether they did with a game of Spot the Difference. A little warming-up exercise for this lesson.
To make it a bit easier, the kids get to look at the museum edition for 30 seconds. Then drape a sheet over it.

Did you look closely?
Now find the difference!

Slide 3 - Slide

Slide 4 - Slide

To avoid confusion, every modified version is marked with the words,
'What is wrong with this painting?'
You can ask the children to tell you their answers or circle the details on the board using the drawing function.

Answer: The mirror to the left of the window has been switched with the painting to the right of the window.

Slide 5 - Slide

After every modified version, the original painting is shown again on the board. This will make it clear what was different about the previous version. It also allows the class to take another look at the original in preparation for the next version.
Did you look closely?
Now find the difference!

Slide 6 - Slide

Slide 7 - Slide

Answer: The two lower works of art on the right-hand wall are missing.

Slide 8 - Slide

Did you look closely?
Now find the difference!

Slide 9 - Slide

Slide 10 - Slide

Answer: The cloth draped over the end of the bed was originally hanging next to the door on the left.

Slide 11 - Slide

Did you look closely?
Now find the difference!

Slide 12 - Slide

Slide 13 - Slide

Answer: Now there's only one pillow on the bed instead of two.

Slide 14 - Slide

Did you look closely?
Now find the difference!

Slide 15 - Slide

Slide 16 - Slide

Answer: The back of the chair next to the bed has disappeared.

Slide 17 - Slide

Afterwards, you can briefly discuss the game. Was it easy or hard? Which difference was the hardest one to find?
How did Vincent paint depth? 

Slide 18 - Slide

Explain that today you’re going to be looking at depth, or perspective as it is called. A canvas is a flat surface; it only has a height and a width. But Vincent painted what he saw around him showing height, width and depth. Ask the kids if they can see how he did that in The Bedroom.
- Everything that’s further away is smaller
- Things that are further away are also higher up the canvas
You can see this if you compare the two chairs and if you compare the foot of the bed with the head. Point this out on the museum edition.
- If the kids are more advanced: all the lines moving away from the viewer’s position come together at an imaginary vanishing point that you can’t see because of the back wall. Point out how, for example, the lines depicting the floorboards and the walls of the room seem to move towards the same point.


Slide 19 - Slide

The kids might indicate that they feel the perspective in the painting is not quite right. There are several reasons for this:
- Vincent’s room was not square, it had a diagonal wall that came to a point in the back right corner (check the hotspot). That is why the line between the floor and the back wall slopes slightly upwards.
- Vincent painted freehand. The lines creating the perspective are not therefore perfectly straight. But Vincent liked that.
- Vincent liked to exaggerate. In this painting, for example, he exaggerated the size of the bed, which makes a few things look out of proportion and it’s a bit like you’re looking at the room through a fish-eye lens.

Slide 20 - Slide

Let’s have a go ourselves! We’re going to draw a bedroom in perspective.
The kids need:
  • A sheet of paper
  • Pencil
  • Eraser
  • Black pen
  • Coloured pencils

Slide 21 - Slide

Then, on the smartboard, show (1 and 2) a rectangle with another smaller rectangle inside it. Join the points (3).
 This gives you a room with two side walls, a back wall, a floor and a ceiling. 
Have the kids do the same, and help them if necessary. They should draw freehand, just like Vincent, so no rulers. Crooked is cool! Make sure they sketch rather than drawing thick lines which will be difficult to rub out later. 

Slide 22 - Slide

Then show two chairs in the room (4) on the screen. One close, one further away. Now add one or two other elements from the painting. Draw them quickly, don’t worry about the quality. As long as your drawing on the smartboard looks like a bedroom. And then you can play with the size of things.
Assignment: furnish the bedroom 
- 2 chairs
- 1 bed + nightstand
- A few paintings/posters
- 1 window and 1 door
- (optional: something that isn’t in Vincent’s The Bedroom)

Slide 23 - Slide

Now ask the kids to rearrange the furniture in their drawing of Vincent’s bedroom. Putting things in a different place will mean that they have to make them larger or smaller.

They should at any rate include:
- 2 chairs
- 1 bed + nightstand
- A few paintings/posters
- 1 window and 1 door
- (optional: something that isn’t in Vincent’s The Bedroom)

Have the kids sketch these things first.

Slide 24 - Slide

Now have the kids trace over their sketch using a black pen, and colour it in with coloured pencils. The thick outlines and large areas of colour will make the drawing look more like the painting.
The kids can choose their own colours. It might be fun to use entirely different colours from those in the painting.
Share: have the kids check in pairs what colours they chose and why.

Slide 25 - Slide

Complete the drawing..

Vincent didn’t sign The Bedroom. He did put his name on some of his other work though. Sometimes in a place where you really noticed it, and it was sometimes hidden.
Where are you going to sign it?

Did you think the assignment was easy? What did you find difficult?
Who is proud of their drawing, or part of it?

Slide 26 - Slide

Explain: you might have noticed that it’s quite difficult to draw not only the room in perspective, but also the furniture. Vincent found it really difficult too.
What’s wrong with the chairs in the slide? Show that the length of the legs is often wrong.
'I keep on making what I can't do yet in order to learn to be able to do it.'
Vincent wrote:

Slide 27 - Slide

But Vincent kept on practising! He wanted to teach himself how to do it. And you will also practise again next lesson, this time using paint. 

Slide 28 - Slide

Explain: next lesson we’re going to paint chairs, in perspective. These paintings show two very different chairs. Can you say what the differences are? 

- Simple versus elegant
- Straight / rounded
- Armrests / no armrests
- Practical versus nice to look at
- Kitchen chair versus comfy chair
- Different type of wood
- Different things on the chairs
- Painted in different colours
- Daytime/evening
Assignment: Look around you
  • What shape are they?
  • What are they made of?
  • What are they used for?

Slide 29 - Slide

Explain: Look around you the next few days, at the chairs you see.
  • What shape are they?
  • What are they made of?
  • What are they used for?
Then decide which chair you think is the nicest, most beautiful, most interesting, or just one that grabs your attention for some reason. It can be a real chair, or an imagined chair.
You can use these ideas in the next lesson when you’re painting your chair.