Starry Night Ornaments

Starry Night Ornaments lesson plan

Get inspired by the impasto technique used by Vincent van Gogh to make this sculptural keepsake! Roll Model Magic® coils to cover a foam ball in the style of a great masterpiece.

  • 1.

    Research images and information about Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh. Van Gogh’s mental illnesses and inner-ear issues made him feel dizzy much of the time. These medical challenges most likely led him to use the thick swirling blobs of paint found on many of his most famous masterpieces.

  • 2.

    Van Gogh died a pauper, but his more 700 drawings and paintings are worth millions today. One of his most famous paintings is "Starry Night." In this painting the sky is deep, dark blues and yellows swirling around stars and a moon. Van Gogh’s paint was very thick, and he used a technique called impasto. You can do something similar with varying coils of Crayola Model Magic® compound! It is a wonderful way to interpret this technique.

  • 3.

    Begin by poking both ends of a short ribbon into a foam ball with a paperclip. Use a thin layer of Model Magic background color to cover the entire ball. Model Magic air-dries to the touch overnight and dries completely in 2 to 3 days so you have plenty of time to create!

  • 4.

    Roll several coils in colors of objects you’d like to start with. Gently press these coils on the ball to outline each one. Fill the space with different colored coils of Model Magic. Van Gogh loved to use yellow to express happiness and often added unexpected colors within others. For example, white, yellow, and orange swirls are incorporated into the blues, some very dark, of his sky. Feel free to add bits of extra colors and leave them swirled in the coils. After your first layer is filled, add extra layers of coils on these objects until you are pleased with the ornament.

  • 5.

    You may want to make a series of ornaments for each masterpiece you admire!


  • Students become familiar with the impasto painting techniques of Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh.
  • Students study one masterpiece and interpret it in a sculptural manner around a 3-dimensional geometric shape.
  • Students practice a coil-building technique to create a relief sculpture on a 3-dimensional geometric shape.


  • Culminate an entire unit of study about one artist with this project, with each student inspired by a different artwork.
  • Incorporate this project into an independent study of different artists and display the ornaments together.
  • Ask a group of students to all work from one masterpiece, but have each focus only on one object in the art. Display together to somewhat reconstruct the original scene.
  • Assessment: Students will be successful if they depict some of the major objects from a masterpiece on their ornaments.