My 2nd graders recently studied some of Van Gogh's sunflower paintings. The students noticed how realistic many of his sunflower paintings are, since he even included details like brownish wilting flowers, and flowers that were still buds. I explained to the students that Van Gogh was able to paint the flowers so accurately because he had the vase right in front of him as a painted (a still life).
Obviously I wasn't able to bring real sunflowers in for my students to paint, but I told them that today we have something that Van Gogh didn't have--color photographs! So, even though we weren't able to look at real sunflowers, my students were able to look at photographs to help them as they designed their own sunflower vases.
I showed the students how Van Gogh always signed his first name, Vincent, on the vase of his sunflower paintings. I asked my students to sign their first name on their vases. Later, I had a student excitedly tell me that her music teacher had one of Van Gogh's sunflower paintings at her house, and she could tell it was really by him because he had signed "Vincent" on the vase!
Below are a few student examples. The kids used markers to draw everything except the flowers, and yellow and brown tempera paint to make the flowers.