Loving Vincent -Living paintings

Loving Vincent:

living paintings

1 / 22
Slide 1: Slide
Art and designFilmUpper Secondary (Key Stage 4)Higher Education (degree)

This lesson contains 22 slides, with interactive quizzes, text slides and 4 videos.

time-iconLesson duration is: 60 min


This lesson is about the relationship between several of Vincent's paintings and the film Loving Vincent, into which they were incorporated. The lesson can be used in preparation for watching the film 'Loving Vincent'.


General learning objectives:
  • The students will learn about the work of Vincent van Gogh.  The students will be introduced to the film Loving Vincent.
  • They will see the connections between the film Loving Vincent and several of Vincent van Gogh's paintings. 
  • They will learn to recognise and identify the difference between Vincent's early and late painting styles.
  • They will write short fictional stories inspired by three of Vincent's paintings. 
Materials required
Students can use their mobile phones for the quiz. The lesson can also be completed without mobiles.

Optional variations
To save time, you can leave out some of the questions. Alternatively, you can spread the lesson over two or more class sessions.

Background information
Click on this link for more information about Loving Vincent.

Items in this lesson

Loving Vincent:

living paintings

Slide 1 - Slide

Tell the class: More than 125 years after his death, Vincent van Gogh is still an inspiration to many people. That includes the makers of the film Loving Vincent, who took his paintings as the basis for a painted movie. You may think it sounds easy to make an animated movie based on paintings that already exist (Vincent made more than 850 paintings).But nothing could be further from the truth. Every painting used in the film had to be adapted. On top of that, the film consists of 65,000 frames (12 per second). An enormous job!

Vincent van Gogh

Slide 2 - Mind map

Continue: Our image of Vincent is all the more colourful thanks to the many stories that have been told about him, in films, documentaries, museums, books, graphic novels, songs, games, and of course, his own art and letters. So before we watch the preview of Loving Vincent, the question is: What's your image of Vincent van Gogh?

Instructions for the quiz: Students can use their mobile phones to answer the questions. The class can also do the quiz without mobiles, and their answers can be written on the digital whiteboard (click on the pencil icon for this option).

Slide 3 - Video

Summarise the class responses and go on to the next slide.

Now you can play the preview (length: 2 minutes, 2 seconds).

Afterwards, discuss the preview with the class. Did it confirm their image of Vincent or not?
Loving Vincent has more than 65,000 frames, painted by 125 artists. They came from all over the world to work in the Loving Vincent studios in Poland and Greece.

Slide 4 - Slide

Tell the class: Loving Vincent is the first feature film in the world to be fully hand-painted. 
Here you can see a few painters at work.

Slide 5 - Video

In this video (length: 2 minutes, 23 seconds), a few of the artists explain why they took part in the project. 

1885, Nuenen
Title: The Potato Eaters
Date: 1885
Collection: Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
1886, Antwerp
Title: Head of a Skeleton with a Burning Cigarette
Date: 1886
Collection: Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
Arles, 1888
Title: The Yellow House
Date: 1888
Collection: Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
Saint-Rémy, 1889
Title: The Starry Night
Date: 1889
Collection: Museum of Modern Art, New York
Auvers, 1890
Title: Wheatfield with Crows
Date: 1890
Collection: Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
Paris, 1886
Title: View of Paris
Date: 1886
Collection: Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Slide 6 - Slide

Tell the class: Like the artists who worked on the film, Vincent travelled a lot. He spent time in four countries: the Netherlands, England, Belgium, and France.

Loving Vincent is based mostly on paintings from Vincent's most creative period, in France.

Click on the pushpins for examples of Vincent's early and late paintings These illustrate the differences in style between Vincent's early work (in the Netherlands and Belgium) and his late work (in France).

Why do you think the filmmakers based the film on Vincent's late style?

Slide 7 - Open question

Continue: The 125 artists who painted the frames of the film had all been trained in Vincent's late style, which involves dots and dashes of paint, bright, intense colours, and a swirling brushstroke.

Summarise the class responses and go on to the next slide.


Slide 8 - Slide

Tell the class: Vincent's style is part of the fabric of the film. And besides that, the subjects of paintings like View of Paris, The Yellow House, Wheatfield with Crows and The Starry Night are also part of the film.

Click on the pushpins to compare Vincent's paintings to the versions from Loving Vincent.

Slide 9 - Video

The opening scene of Loving Vincent is based on at least six of Vincent's late works, including The Starry Night and The Yellow House. Vincent made those paintings in different places in Saint-Remy and Arles, but in the film they form a fluid whole.

Vincent van Gogh
Title: The Starry Night
Date: 1889
Collection: Museum of Modern Art, New York
Loving Vincent

Slide 10 - Slide

Tell the class: The paintings by Vincent used in the film had to be adapted. For example, The Starry Night is closer to portrait than to landscape format. But by panning from the top to the bottom of the painting, you can show the entire work, bit by bit.

What changes were made to 'The Yellow House' for the film?

Slide 11 - Open question

Continue: Other changes were made so that the story could be told properly. For example, The Yellow House was changed in the opening scene of the film.

Wiktor Jackowski
Title: The Yellow House by Night
Vincent van Gogh
Title: The Yellow House
Date: 1888
Collection: Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam

Slide 12 - Slide

Continue: In the opening scene, you see The Yellow House not in the daytime, but at night. That's because the scene takes place at night.
Ask the class: How do you make a change like this to the original painting? Here's one possibility: You could go to the Yellow House in Arles to paint there after dark.

Slide 13 - Map

Continue: And here's what you would find there, in the spot where the Yellow House once stood. It was destroyed by bombing during the Second World War. Another house in the painting, behind the Yellow House, is still there. So is the railway bridge in the background. To find inspiration for the night version, the artist Wiktor Jackowski looked at other paintings by Vincent. Going to Arles wouldn't have helped much!

Slide 14 - Slide

Continue: By drawing on The Starry Night (MoMa, New York) and Starry Night Over the Rhone (Musée d'Orsay, Parijs), Wiktor Jackowski was able to paint The Yellow House by night.

Slide 15 - Slide

Tell the class: Take a close look at this scene. In a moment, Armand Roulin (the man in the yellow jacket, who is the main character in the film) will see the view on the next slide.

Vincent van Gogh
Title: View op Paris
Date: 1886
Collection: Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam
Loving Vincent

Slide 16 - Slide

In the film, Armand sees the view on the right. It's based on the view on the left, which Vincent painted in Paris in 1886.

The two versions differ in colour.

Why do you think the filmmakers changed the colours?

Slide 17 - Open question

See the next slide for the answer.

Slide 18 - Slide

Tell the class: The view that Vincent painted in Paris in 1886 was a little too cool and grey in tone to combine with Armand's yellow jacket. Armand is based on a painting that Vincent made in Arles (southern France) in 1888. In Arles, Vincent used much warmer colours than in Paris. That explains why the original colour scheme of this painting did not match Armand's jacket. Since Armand is the main character and appears many times in the film, changes were made not to his jacket, but to the view.

Slide 19 - Video

Tell the class: Wheatfield with Crows is used in the film many times. Sometimes all you see are a few crows; sometimes part of the field appears; and sometimes you see the entire painting. Vincent painted it in Auvers near the end of his life. That's also the context in which we see it in the film.

Slide 20 - Slide

Continue: Unlike the first three examples we saw, this painting did not have to be changed very much. That's partly because it's already in landscape format.

Click on the hotspot to see Vincent's version.

Slide 21 - Map

Continue: The wheat field looks a bit different in the real world than it does in the film and in Vincent's painting. You can still visit this spot. If you click on the photo in Google Maps, you'll see the difference. It's close to the graves of Vincent and his brother Theo (in the cemetery to the right of the field). Many other places painted by Vincent can be seen in Google Maps. Optional: If you have time, you can take a virtual tour of Auvers with the class. You can examine a number of locations in detail, including:

  • Wheatfield with Crows; zoom in on Van Gogh -  Le Champ De Ble Aux Corbeaux 
  • Ravoux, the inn where Vincent lived and where he died; zoom in on 'Auberge Ravoux'
  • Auvers City Hall, another place that Vincent painted; zoom in on 'Stadhuis Mairie d’Auvers-sur-Oise'.
  • The church that Vincent painted, which appears in the film; zoom in on the Eglise Notre-Dame-de-l'Assomption. 

Vincent & you
In groups of three, make up a short story about Vincent based on three of his paintings..

Here's how it works:
  1. Each of you picks one painting by Vincent from the Van Gogh Museum collection.
  2. Use one painting for the start of the story, one for the middle and one for the end. 
  3. Write the story together. It should be about 400 words long.

Slide 22 - Slide

Finally, ask a few students to read their stories to the class.
As they read, display the relevant paintings on the board.